TwitchCon And A Sudden Realization About Start Ups

Those of you who follow me, the few of you there are at this point, know this weekend I was in San Francisco with my son attending TwitchCon. Twitch.tv is a live streaming platform where broadcasters create and distribute their own content. The main focus of Twitch.tv is live streaming video games. 

What I saw with my old, pre-internet eyes was the next generation of television. I spoke with several streamers who all talked about their community, their fans, and their passion for sharing exactly what they want to do with others.

Twitch.tv and YouTube Gaming are the next evolution of on demand television.

TV As You Know It Is Dead. Long Live Streaming

For people like me who grew up with network TV and felt lucky if we had cable and could get the extra three or four channels, this is something very difficult to wrap our collective brains around. We are used to being told what to watch, when to watch, and how often we will watch it. On Twitch, you can search for a broadcaster who provides what you want when you want to see it, and support them directly through subscriptions and donations. 

That support means there are little to no pauses in broadcast for a three minute commercial. In fact, nearly everyone involved with Twitch despises the very thought of pop-up ads and breaks in the stream for blatant product promotion.

I met a young man named Eliot Miller. HERE is his website. He is from Wales and works in San Francisco. He and I spoke about how much young people hate being directly sold to by traditional commercials. His issue regarding in-your-face advertisements was bandwidth.

In his area in Wales, the connectivity is horrible. He is forced to watch Twitch on the lowest resolution so he can get a consistent stream and be involved. When there is a pop-up ad, it is typically played at the highest possible resolution because the company wants its product to look good. As a result, the stream lags due to lack of bandwidth. When the stream lags, it ruins the experience and connection to the broadcaster for the fan.

Stop Thinking With Traditional Marketing

Imagine watching a live comedy show with Dave Chappelle or Jeff Dunham. Imagine they would interact directly with the audience with jokes and stories off the top of their head. Then imagine having to stop every 12 minutes to have them sell you Tide Detergent or My Little Pony. 

That is exactly why Twitch is so popular. That doesn't happen. The paradigm shift in marketing is upon us. Embrace it while your product may still be relevant. 

So how do you sell stuff? Sponsorship and live product placement.

Any savvy marketer will tell you the best way to get people to buy your product is celebrity endorsement. The good broadcasters have this as part of their stream. The loyalty of the streamer fan base is where your brand's strength can be built.

Make no mistake. If your product sucks, they will tell you. Twitch viewer vote with their clicks, likes, donations, and chat interactions. The streamer will not ignore those he serves. This is the true definition of social marketing in its purest.

Streamers Are Start Ups

Those who have been around long enough to build a loyal fan base through consistent quality content and interaction with fans have made streaming their job. As I said, fans vote with their clicks and wallet.

The model is similar to nearly every start up:

  1. Create something of value.  The majority of broadcasters play video games well. That is their fan base. It is similar to watching Maryl Streep or Anthony Hopkins on screen. They are just so good at what they do is draws people to them
  2. The content is free. Every broadcaster provides their streams free to watch.
  3. Provide a means of fan support. Once enough fans find a streamer, they will support the channel with one-time donations and month-to-month subscriptions. Once the eyes are there, sponsorship and product placement possibilities are created.
  4. Provide premium content and interaction to those supportive fans. Most streamers give special consideration to subscribers like and shout out, direct Twitter messages, or special channel emotes. Broadcaster also provide special chat badges to supporters and talk to them directly in the live chat. Some special badges block ads from popping up on the viewer's screen. Some broadcasters bring fans onto the stream to play the game live with the broadcaster.

You can see the parallels for your business. Anyone who has every grown an idea from nothing into something has traveled this path. This is a standard freemium model used with most modern technology start ups, but this really isn't a new business concept.

What It All Means

This is the pinnacle of the sharing economy. The community votes with their clicks and wallets. There are no layers between provider and consumer. There is direct interaction and connection between all involved about wants and needs. It is the new lifestyle the internet has created.

When you hear about traditional jobs being lost, this is what will fill the void. People will have to be creative independent contractors or be the support staff to the creatives. Streamers are the new rock stars.They are the new trend setters who create and develop communities with their own memes and lexicon.

Fear and lack of understanding creates the chasm between people like me who know what it's like without the internet and millennials who have embraced it. I have chosen to step into the fear by attending TwitchCon with my son and learning why this is his reality. It's here. There is no sense in ignoring it.

I believe I can provide value with my maturity and understanding of behavior. The underlying motivators of fear, love, belonging, and creating are still there. There are now just new ways to bring those into our lives. I can write about it. I can tell stories and capture the emotion of it all. The connection I have forged with my son is something I hope he will remember for a long time. I know I will.