Why Should Taiwan Watch Out for Live Gameplay Streaming Platform Twitch?
Raiford Cockfield III, Director of Asia-Pacific for Twitch starts off by sharing some impressive statistics about Taiwan. Did you know that more than 10 million people in Taiwan are engaged in eSports in some form or another, and that Taiwan tops the Asia list when it comes to watch times and active users on Twitch in 2016? As watch times continue to grow at a staggering rate of 34% annually, it turns out that already more than two thirds of the Taiwan population have seen Twitch.
Renowned for being a high tech island, eSports has never been more at home here, with Taiwan brands such as Asus and Acer launching gaming laptops targeting eSports players, and Gigabyte and MSI all have various hardware products targeted at the lucrative gaming market. Game developers such as Gamania, Wayi, and Garena (now re-named Sea) all want to grow aggressively within Taiwan’s booming eSports market. Twitch, the vertical network platform is of course, a gaming industry heavyweight in its’ own right.
The gaming community that Twitch has grown, consists of a very specific demographic, which is also a very sticky audience. The average time a Twitch.tv user spends on Twitch is double the amount of time spent on Facebook, and also 1.5 times the time spent on Youtube. With managing “communities” becoming the focal point for e-commerce businesses, we all want to know how Twitch does it. What is the key to building up such a loyal community?
“Vertical” Approach to Building Community Foundations, Where Phone Calls Are Still a Thing
Back in 2011, Justin Kan and Emmett Shear, the two founders of Justin.tv, decided to spin off the gaming content of Justin.tv as Twitch.tv. With an impressive traffic of 30 to 40 million hits in the beginning, the popularity of Twitch brought the potential and needs of the gaming community to light. With no signs of slowing down, Twitch.tv has continuously engaged with eSport players and gaming communities in tweaking the site’s relevant functions, going so far as to even hold phone and Skype conversations with users, in hopes of servicing their needs and meeting expectations.
Twitch’s Director of Asia-Pacific, Raiford Cockfield III also mentions that, apart from “competing with competitors,” Twitch spends more time in listening to what “streamers” voice out. These streamers are very important content creators for Twitch, and only by ensuring that their needs are catered to, and that they have an excellent platform to broadcast on, will the passion and excitement of the community be constantly fed. As long as the streamers are popular, Twitch can ensure its own success as well.
With building communities at the forefront of their strategy, along with processing speeds and the advancements of personal computers and the internet now ripe for the rise of gaming and eSports, the gaming industry has launched blockbuster after blockbuster games over the years. This roster of games, including League of Legends, Starcraft 2, and CS:GO, has inevitably led to the booming trend of “watching other people play games via digital video” and “playing video games for an audience.” In 2014, Twitch even trailed Netflix, Apple, and Google to become the 4th largest source of U.S. internet traffic. At this stage of substantial growth, Twitch did not forget its roots, and always listened to their users. In 2014, Amazon put down 9.7 billion USD for the burgeoning firm. So in just 4 years, Twitch managed to achieve a mind-blowing 300 billion NTD in company value.
Best Marketing Practice is to Bring the Most Relevant Content to Gamers
Twitch.tv started out with a revenue model not unlike traditional tv channels, with ad intervals every 30 minutes. Advertisers were gaming-related businesses, whether hardware or software, they all came to Twitch not just for the high traffic and view counts, but also to promote their products to their target gamer demographic.
But as Twitch’s Director of Asia-Pacific, Raiford Cockfield III tells us, Twitch has always put their users first. Twitch’s solution in reaching a win-win situation for all three parties — including the advertiser, streamer and audience — was to put the decision to play advertising or not into the hands of the streamer. This was crucial for the audience, so that moments of exciting gameplay would not be abruptly cut off by advertisements. Meanwhile, the advertisers would also work on creating compelling ads to entice streamers to air them multiple times.
Though this may seem like a minor adjustment, it was an important change that focused on enhancing user experience, and proved to create mutual benefits for the advertisers, streamers and the audience.
Bringing it back to those who see community building as their main strategy goals, it may be quite a stretch in launching their own platform. But the takeaway from how Twitch.tv has managed to grow their community is to continuously understand the users and their needs, and constantly enhance the user experience. This creates a bond between the users and the platform, and results in the gathering of a community onsite. As the face of this network becomes more defined, targeted marketing and sales efforts will be more effective.
Twitch’s Director of Asia-Pacific Raiford Cockfield III will share the trials and tribulations of building Twitch’s dedicated gaming community at the 2017 DATE SUMMIT, setting a great example for e-commerce businesses looking to build sustainable social networks.
Raiford Cockfield III is Twitch’s Director of Asia-Pacific. Prior to joining Twitch in 2015, Rai spent nearly a decade living in East Asia, primarily Hong Kong and China, where he was an investor and entrepreneur focusing on the Asia-Pacific region. He holds an MBA from Stanford University and a BA from Wesleyan University.
He will be sharing the know-how of building Twitch’s successful “community”, for those of you who want to create and manage online communities.