Livestreaming: Twitch, Hitbox, and the massive opportunity in eSports


By Kiki Schirr, {grow} Contributing Columnist

One of the fastest growing Internet communities is the world of eSports. Twitch, the largest eSports livestreaming platform, commands more than 100 million unique viewers a month.

But let me slow down a little — do you know what eSports are? Many people don’t. eSports are video game competitions broadcast as entertainment, much like football or baseball. Hence their name, e(lectronic)Sports. Basically, millions of people are tuning in to watch people play video games … and more.

Twitch, which is owned by Amazon, is big, bad and growing like crazy so you need to consider this as a mainstream marketing channel.

Competition is fierce, and prize pools for major games such as DotA 2 (Steam’s sequel to Defense of the Ancients) have been more than $10 million the last two years. Even ‘doping‘ has been borrowed from baseball –and the Electronics Sports League is cracking down.

If your business’ goal is to reach men between 18-24 years of age, you should be considering if eSports streaming could be a match for you.

How to Get Started in eSports Livestreaming

There are a few ways to promote your brand on channels like Twitch, and its smaller, friendlier competitor Hitbox. The first, and lowest effort option, is to contact the channels directly. Both have programs to insert ads into streams. If you’re looking to get a quick start and have a decent budget, this could be an excellent option for you. You can contact Twitch here, or Hitbox here.

Another way is to sponsor gamers. Mike “Hawkeye” Chapman, Head of Community at Hitbox, had this piece of advice:

Counterintuitively, sometimes it’s better to reach out to streamers with smaller communities. If you want to reach 5,000 people, consider sponsoring 50 streamers with 100 followers each, instead of one streamer with 5,000. The conversion rates are higher because the smaller communities are so tightly knit.

The younger generation prefers product placement to having to watch a 30-second commercial. And while older generations might see product placement as manipulative, Hitbox users tend to like seeing big brands support the content they love.

In fact, it’s seen as almost philanthropic.

The final choice is the most effort, but also the most potential for reward: stream something yourself! Hitbox is a gaming community only, but Twitch is branching out to include creative activities such as painting, writing, and sculpting, and channels like YouTube’s live stream will accept any content. It might be that one of these channels is the right place for your brand. But Hawkeye warns:

If your brand wants to start with a bang, find someone to help you through the process. Hitbox has people who can help you, but if you want to break into Twitch, consider hiring a consultant.

You want to begin with quality content, and that means putting in thought and planning.

Twitch vs. Hitbox

If you’re ready to sign up now, you might want to take a moment to consider your platform options.

Twitch is the larger of the two platforms, with more traffic, but discovery –the process of finding new talent such as yourself– can be difficult. Also, the trolls on Twitch can be notoriously mean.

Hitbox boasts IP banning, a measure to block trolls, and encourages interaction by having the lowest lag time (time from the event’s occurrance until the viewer sees it) so that chat back and forth feels more natural. Also, being small-time on Hitbox can be a friendlier experience, as the community is welcoming and discovery is easier. However, it is still a considerably smaller pool of viewers, and that should be taken into account.

What some streamers have begun doing is cross-streaming. Using a service called Restream, players can push their content to Twitch, Hitbox, and even YouTube simultaneously. It even combines the chat boxes from all three channels for you –though it can be too daunting to keep up.

Examples of Twitch and Hitbox Livestreamers

If you’re looking for a few quality channels to emulate, check out: Sodapoppin, KaceyTron, UnexpectedBanana, FJS717, or KelseyLioness (on Twitch) or Goldenfanggaming,  TieTuesdayLucyfuurNationFusion, or DeliciousCinnamonOfficial (on Hitbox).

But overall, if you want to start building a popular channel, Hawkeye has three key pieces of advice.

  1. Choose 3-5 times a week to stream
  2. Post your schedule
  3. Be consistent

Well, that should sound familiar to us social media marketers! Maybe this eSports livestreaming thing won’t be so hard to pick up!

Feel free to comment with any advice or questions you might have about eSports, livestreaming, or any of the platforms I’ve mentioned!

KikiSchirrKiki Schirr is a cofounder of the fitness app Fittr, and also does the company’s marketing. Her latest project is a lifestyle magazine for women in STEM called Valley Girl — she would love for you to check it out! Kiki is also the author of Tech Doodles, and can be reached easily through Twitter.

Image found on Pexels.


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