Twitch faces challenging year ahead after successful 2018

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Video game streaming service Twitch faces a challenging 2019 in Europe but is determined to build on its steady success of the past 12 months. Jamie Harris, Press Association Science Technology Reporter writes…

Each month, the Amazon-owned site attracts more than 100 million gaming enthusiasts who want to watch other gamers play hit titles such as Fortnite and World Of Warcraft. However, two big changes affecting some tech giants could make the future trickier – Brexit and Article 13, an EU copyright proposal that could have an impact on what people are allowed to share online.

“We will follow how Brexit unfolds and address any changes that come out of that at the time that a decision is finally made,” said Twitch’s chief operating officer, Sara Clemens, from the company’s new offices in London.

Speaking of the EU’s copyright proposals, Ms Clemens said the company would also have to assess the situation once it happens.

“We’re very concerned about the implications of the current state of Article 13. While we respect the entitlements of rights holders, we also think that it’s important to recognise that there are tens of millions of creators that would be very negatively impacted by the existing proposals, so we are working with MEPs and are hopeful that the concerns of a whole range of different services and creators are recognised,” she added.

Other sites, such as YouTube, have warned that users in the EU may have to be blocked from seeing certain videos if the new law goes ahead in its current form.

Ms Clemens, who joined Twitch in January 2018, did not say whether Twitch would go as far as YouTube, but chief executive Emmett Shear has previously warned creators that content could be limited within the EU.

Twitch
Twitch attracts more than 15 million daily viewers (PA)

2018 has been a strong year for the platform in the UK, with an audience growth of 50%, an increase of 25% in partners – the big streamers who make up Twitch’s service – and huge names like Ninja and Canadian rapper Drake streaming on the service. Revenue that partners are able to generate on the site has also increased by 80% in the last year.

“Gamers now represent over 65% of the population over 13, it’s people who watch about an hour of games a day, and so it really is a mainstream activity now,” Ms Clemens continued.

“So we started building out other types of content for them – sporting content, television marathons, these creative categories that we’ve been doing and we’re seeing great engagement there.

“In the UK, we broadcast the old Doctor Who series, we had these huge communities of people coming together, you would see thousands of people in a stream an hour before the episode even started, just talking about why it was their favourite show, so we’re excited about doubling down on that in 2019.”

The executive also said she believed Twitch had contributed to Fortnite’s success.

“I think the success of Fortnite on Twitch will mean that other studios will start thinking ‘What does it look like to build for Twitch?’ because I do think Twitch has been a big element in the success of Fortnite – people’s ability to go online and watch the game is certainly a contributing factor to the desire to play it,” Ms Clemens said.

Next year, the company is looking to add more personalisation and a squad streaming feature, allowing people to watch four different streams at the same time.

Tech Digest Correspondent
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