Twitch TV. © 2016 Twitch Interactive

The eSports are now a fully fledged gambling market, with bookmakers including video games on their betting offer. Twitch is one of the platforms broadcasting many of the matches in real-time for those who want to make an informed decision when betting. Unlike other channels used for live streaming, this one has quite an impressive history and made a significant contribution to the rising popularity of eSports.

Few know, but Twitch was actually just one of the channels available on Justin TV, before growing into a standalone platform. Justin Kan’s startup was so popular, that users started to broadcast their own streams on his platform, with Twitch.TV emerging as the dedicated channel for video games. In a matter of years, it outshined all the other Justin TV channels which prompted the owners to spin it off into a standalone company, with its own features.

Twitch galvanized the community of gamers

The streaming platform was immediately adopted by the gaming community, thanks to its solid infrastructure and user-friendly features. Players of all skill level were presented with the way of broadcasting their games to friends and fans. The ease of setting up a streaming channel and the free service were a catalyst for gamers, who soon realized that streaming could also be a source of revenue.

Professional gamers already had an impressive number of followers and Twitch presented them with the perfect environment to watch the competitive games. Counter Strike Condition Zero, Dota 2 and later on Heroes of the Storm were broadcasted in real-time, with viewers enjoying unlimited freedom in choosing one channel or the other. For the average gamer, watching the matches live has a two-pronged effect, honing their skills and providing top quality and inexpensive entertainment.

eSports owe much of their success to Twitch

StarCraft was always a big deal in Korea and the best players enjoy superstar status within national borders. Koreans had the advantage of TV stations broadcasting the games live, but until Twitch came around foreigners had few options for watching the matches as they unfolded. The best matches of Starcraft 2 Wings of Liberty and the other two games in the trilogy however, were made available worldwide over Internet.

Riot also took advantage of the fast rise of eSports and quickly made League of Legends one of the most popular MOBA video games worldwide. The company now has its own channels where players can watch the official matches played in major tournaments they sponsor. Regular gamers and many professionals are still very active on Twitch and make a decent income by showcasing their skills.

Some of those broadcasting games live are actually relying more on their social skills, humor and ability to keep players hooked for long hours every day. ESports are no longer a sideshow in the gaming industry and many developers create the new games with multiplayer in mind. Since the arrival of Twitch, an increasingly high number of gamers are spending more time watching the matches, then playing the games themselves.

Twitch has a commanding lead over competitors

Twitch came a long way from being a regular channel on Justin TV and has the merit of taking advantage of all the favorable circumstances. The streaming video service now acts as a platform for all major video game tournaments and has signed lucrative deals with major developers. Many companies chose to integrate the channel directly into their software, so by the time the new games hit the stores, players can already watch the matches live.

The attention paid to consoles helps them consolidate the advantage over competitors, as now PlayStation 4 and Xbox One games are streamed live as well. Not surprisingly, the traffic figures are growing at an accelerated pace, with the number of monthly visitors doubling every year. They know that even if they are on the right track, they risk getting run over if you just sit there and that’s why they invest massively in advertising. A lot of money is spent on building a better performing infrastructure that would allow Twitch to serve more players from Asia and Europe.

Twitch Games. © 2016 Twitch Interactive
Twitch Games. © 2016 Twitch Interactive

A partnership with Thrive Capital should provide them the necessary juice for meeting those high expectations, with $20 million being raised already. Commonly referred to as the ESPN of eSports, Twitch currently has the central role in the ecosystem and is the go to platform for regular players.

The challenges ahead for Twitch

So far, the streaming video service did everything right and deserves to sit at the top of the food chain when it comes to eSports. In the process, they revolutionized the gaming world by empowering average players and providing professionals with the environment to monetize their skills. While they still have a commanding lead, competitors are lurking at every corner and the lucrative video games tournaments have caught the eye of giant companies.

Small competitors like Ustream are not yet a real threat, but with YouTube entering the race, Twitch will need to double its effort. They have the advantage of a flawless track record and the fact that gamers usually side with smaller companies that are facing a giant threat. Moneywise, YouTube has the upper hand and can afford to pour hundreds of millions into expanding its video game platform.

For the time being, Twitch is in the very favorable position of having all the big developers broadcasting their major tournaments over their platform. However, many of them have realized the potential of esports and some even contemplate the possibility of creating your own technology for streaming. They have the resources, motivation and tools to develop an industry that could at some point rival television.

Only time will tell whether Twitch will be able to defend its position at the top of the ladder, or if competition will ultimately proved too strong. What is certain is that the live streaming platform has played an important role in pushing the gaming industry into overdrive and continues to be a key catalyst for its growth.