How Streaming Helps Gaming & Esports Businesses Scale

How Streaming Helps Gaming & Esports Businesses Scale

By Trent Knox: June 28th, 2021 @ 3:00 PM CST

Statistics show that in 2020, Gaming was the fastest-growing segment of the entertainment industry in the world. Studies showed that young people are increasingly interested in pursuing careers in online media, such as YouTube, TikTok, Instagram, Twitch, and Snap.

For those of you that are new to the industry, streaming is a popular term to describe live video broadcasting over an online content distribution network such as Facebook, YouTube, and Twitch. The performer(s), commonly known as the streamer(s), broadcast to a live audience who engage through listening, watching, and chatting. So why is streaming growing rapidly in popularity and being coveted as one of the most highly sought-after careers? The answer is simple, some of the top streamers online are pulling in million-dollar salaries year over year. 

The Current State of Streaming

There are several different avenues to pursue when building a business through streaming. Here are the main three:

  • Player
  • Team
  • Tournament Organizer

The main obstacle in building a brand in Gaming & Esports is getting your name out there. In what seems to be an endless stream of content for a viewer’s attention to be captured, how do content creators stick out in the crowd?

The first impression is often the most important activation factor that a streamer has to retain the attention of a prospective viewer, follower, donator, or subscriber. The challenge is that the first impression is often outside of the control of the streamer. Currently, of the big three streaming platforms, Twitch is the only platform that has a sophisticated directory. Facebook has a simplified directory, however difficult to navigate, causing friction between the viewer and potential streamer. Therefore, Twitch offers the highest chance to be randomly discovered by a viewer. However, Twitch doesn’t offer the streamer the ability to customize their thumbnail—rather, thumbnails are auto-generated by the platform. Therefore, it is the goal of the streamer to strategically design their stream in order for the algorithm to select the most attractive thumbnail. A compelling thumbnail may be the difference between hundreds & thousands of viewers. In the event that the streamer has successfully captured the attention of the prospective viewer, it is said that the streamer has 15 seconds to convert that viewer into a follower, statistically, followers are more likely to return and participate in future streams.

From an individual streamer perspective, the process of building a brand through streaming can be a monumental challenge. Therefore many streamers join what is called creator communities, stream teams,  or esports organizations. Lately, the lines between these three groups have become more blurred. Originally, these groups were separated by the purpose of their goals. Creator communities were more of a casual approach to sharing the benefits of streaming to other streamers through hosting, raiding, and collaboration. Stream teams were more organized as legitimate businesses providing facilities, amenities, and services to streamers that could be seen as complicated for the individual streamers. Esports Organizations were modeled after traditional sports organizations and served to elevate the level of performance in games for competitive players. However, nowadays, these three groups serve more or less the same purpose to build community, sell the lifestyle, and provide entertainment.

The benefit for the individual streamer to join one of these organizations is that they become a part of a community-focused company that aims to increase monetization opportunities. The idea is that these organizations provide agency to the streamers to broker affiliate, partner, and sponsorship opportunities that would be otherwise difficult for the individual streamer. The organization would be able to negotiate with advertisers that could sell based on the bulk of their audience rather than that of any individual streamer.

The process of building a brand in Esports through streaming begins by deciding where you fall within these three categories. If you’re a player, your goal is to use streaming to be discovered by teams. If you’re a team, your goal is to win tournaments regularly. If you’re a tournament organizer, your goal is to form partnerships with sponsors & provide unmatched user experiences.

As a player, you are the face of all operations and may find it difficult to get your name out there. There are a few ways to gain exposure while streaming:

  • Tournaments
  • Collaborations
  • Clips

As a team, you are responsible for getting players organized and competing in tournaments. These are a few ways to be discovered:

  • Original Content
  • Tournaments
  • Players

As organizers, you are hosting tournaments for teams and players to gain exposure and win prize pools. Here are a few ways to monetize your efforts:

  • Sponsors
  • Shoutcasters
  • Analyst
  • Takeovers
  • Ticket Sales

Players can use streaming to sell merchandise, subscriptions, receive tips, premium digital goods, and unique offline experiences. Essentially, streaming is the #1 way to build your brand following. Teams are also able to use players collectively to promote and sell team branding. Tournament Organizers working with successful teams raise prize pools and attract more teams to participate in their events.

It should go without mentioning that streaming alone does not generate attention—players, teams, and tournament organizers must also be producing original creative content as a byproduct of the streaming content. This can be in the form of clips, segments, memes, screenshots, etc. The value is that the remixed & repurposed content can be used as a marketing tool to attract viewers to your streaming events.

Why Influencers Build their Brand through Streaming

You may be wondering why streamers choose Gaming & Esports rather than creating content in a traditional media format, such as Traditional Sports, Music, Dance, Visual Media, etc. The answer is that the content creators who choose to stream their gameplay to a live online audience truly have a passion for playing video games. They believe that gamers and video games are the tribe and community that represents them.

However, streamers are not all the same—some choose to create casual gameplay content, some focus on gameplay that engages their live audience, and some play in tournaments that showcase a high level of competition. No matter the case, streamers have many reasons why they stream. Some find it an emotional outlet outside of their day jobs and others, who take the business much more seriously, stream their gameplay for financial gain.

Often, performers make money streaming through:

  • Tips/Donations
  • Subscriptions
  • Merchandise
  • Sponsors/Affiliations
  • Advertising 

More specifically, teams are building monetization through these top categories:

  • Prize Pools
  • Influencer/Affiliate Marketing
  • Merchandise

Scaling Your Business through Streaming

Building your business through streaming is a complex process, but it can be simplified into three categories:

  • Networking
  • Creating
  • Marketing

Networking can be the most powerful tool in scaling a brand in gaming through streaming. The process can be as simple as selecting which streaming platform is best for the streamer to stream to connecting with upcoming streamers to collaborating on creating content.

Creative is quintessential to the success of building a brand through streaming. Without content that is entertaining, informative, or interesting, the process of gaining attention is often an incredibly difficult task.

Marketing is added value as you’re taking the creative and redistributing that content over channels that will draw potential fans to your main platforms. Examples may include posting to social media, creating a website, or branching out into other forms of media.

The value of streaming is measured by the engagement of the audience on streaming platforms. If you’re a company that targets a niche audience, it may be a good idea to work with streamers in your niche to create live video content for your target audience.

Twitch is the preferred live video platform for live video consumers—however, YouTube holds the lion’s share of gaming video consumers. If you’re a game developer, tournament organizer, or consumer packaged goods company aiming to reach an audience of gamers, you may consider split testing your influencer marketing campaign by working with streamers on both platforms.

It’s also possible to develop a platform utilizing the existing infrastructure of Facebook, YouTube, and Twitch, working with streamers to promote products and embedding their streams directly into the company website. A campaign may include a call to action by the streamer to funnel their audience to the company website where they can view the stream while engaging with your website directly.

The Future of Streaming

Players, Teams, and Organizers are beginning to adopt the subscription service model to their own first-party websites. The value is building a one on one relationship with their fans.

Sponsorships in streaming are a relatively new form of advertising for consumer packaged goods. An activation might be as simple as a streamer mentioning the product & providing their viewers with a referral code or as advanced as an API integration that overlays during the streamers live—activating new leads via the streaming platform form in tandem with the talent promoting the product.

For many businesses, streaming maximizes the time and frequency in which streamers are activating with an online audience. This process of growing followers, subscribers, sponsors, viewers, and chatters amplifies the awareness of a streamer’s brand and increases the value of your business through monetization & partnerships. 

It’s evident that streamers have a lot of revenue channels to keep track of—but luckily, there are Payables Automation solutions out there that are simplifying how streamers are being paid. When businesses use an automated global payables platform like Tipalti, streamers can be rest assured that they will get paid on time, wherever they are in the world. Whether it’s new subscribers joining streaming channels such as Twitch or through new sponsors joining the ever-growing gaming industry, the future is certainly bright for the monetization of Gaming and Esports streamers. Reach out to Tipalti to learn more about automating your payables today.