Twitch Wants Gamers To Watch Other Gamers

By Kamau High , Updated Mar 30, 2013 08:03 AM EDT

There's a lot of game watching going on over at Twitch. The subsidiary of, which specializes in letting people broadcast themselves playing games, recently announced that over 28 million people were watching 600,000 broadcasters for 1.5 hour per day. A stand alone Xbox 360 app is coming in May, there is an app in the just released Ouya and they just signed a deal with Raptr. Intrigued, we spoke with Matthew DiPietro, vp of marketing for Twitch, about not being on the stage at the PlayStation 4 announcement, why G4 is a cautionary tale and what makes a good broadcaster. Why are people watching other people play games?

Matthew DiPietro: We are experiencing growth and energy in the space because we've tapped into something gamers have experienced since the days of the Atari 2600. In the beginning it was family and friends sitting around the living room watching other people play. Then came arcades and online mulitplayer and this is next evolution.

We've seen the rise video game content on YouTube and other platforms. That's an edited, curated and produced experience. It doesn't quite capture the energy of gaming because gaming is a live experience. When the PS4 was announced earlier this year Ustream was listed as a livestreaming partner. Why was Twitch not on that list?

Matthew DiPietro: There is very little I can say, however, Ustream's relationship with Sony is in no way exclusive. Twitch is actively speaking with a broad list of next generation consoles, in addition to set top boxes and online services. How does Twitch make money?

Matthew DiPietro: We're a mostly an ad supported site with display advertising, front page ads, pre-rolls and mid-rolls with about 3,500 partners, like YouTube's partners program. The difference with us is it's live broadcasters and they have a level of control over advertising. You can control when the mid-roll runs, so you can take natural break in gameplay. We're very generous to our broadcasters but I'm not at liberty to talk about specifics [of how much they get paid]. It does vary depending on partner. Our partners vary from lone gamers to Major League Gaming with many different types of contracts. Do you see ever see Twitch on broadcast TV?

Matthew DiPietro: Maybe. But kind of who cares? There's still this sense that success means being on TV. From my perspective, that's a step backwards. Our largest events will get up to 8 million unique viewers.
The "League of Legends Championship Series" or a Major League Gaming series, for example.

If by TV you mean that device in your living room, we already are there with things like the Ouya.

G4 is a cautionary tale. Gamers in general do not go in for highly produced content that is preaching at them. They're too savvy for that sort of thing and it makes them feel manipulated. The raw stuff on the web by gamers for gamers make them feel at home. What's the weirdest thing you've seen on Twitch?

Matthew DiPietro: We've had some unfortunate mishaps from broadcasters that we don't want to highlight. At any time we have many thousands of channels going. The vast majority of users come to Twitch for our partners content. Our partners are held to higher standard; it's got to be PG-13 and brand safe. That's the stuff advertisers are interested in and that's what watchers want. What's the most popular game?

Matthew DiPietro: "League of Legends" is the most popular on the site. Behind that is "StarCraft II," those two will flop back and forth. Then comes "DOTA 2" and "World of Warcraft." There's been a rise in “Call of Duty” since the deal [putting livestreaming technology into “Black Ops 2”]. "Minecraft" is absolutely huge, Notch [the creator of the game] himself broadcasts. People also love speed runs of games.

However, if you're someone who comes for speed runs, you're generally not going to stay and watch "League of Legends." What would you tell someone thinking about getting into broadcasting their own stream?

Matthew DiPietro: Start watching other people's streams and get into the chats going on. If your goal is to develop an audience you have to be very engaging with the audience, produce regular content and produce a lot of it. Do you have a Twitch channel?

Matthew DiPietro: I do not have one. I don't have the time for it.

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