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What Online Broadcasters Can Learn From Video Game Streamers

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A good portion of my business consists of streaming for game publishers at major video game events such as E3, PAX, MINECON, TwitchCon, and Comic-Con. We also stream for various brands, ad agencies, and companies of all sizes for the enterprise market. Based on my experiences with streaming events for both gaming and enterprise, I recognized a stark contrast between the two, in how they are monetizing their streams and connecting with their audiences. It became clear to me how each industry had similar goals and what game events were doing to achieve those goals, but traditional enterprise streams were missing.

Streaming in many respects is about creating visibility, audience engagement, and monetization, and gamers know how to do this well. They accrue millions of followers by producing original and consistent content, and they earn six- and seven-figure revenues through ads, appearances, and merchandise. Businesses and enterprise streamers should deploy similar practices to cultivate this level of audience involvement.

Game streamers are entertainers and personalities who build their viewership and fan bases by being relatable. Typically, their tone is casual, and at times it is peppered with humor and antics. Enterprise organizations and brands should take note by being more inclusive, rather than exclusive, with their viewers, and strive to come across as more human by adding a little humor and casualness to their content, rather than hiding behind marketing lingo and technical features.

In addition, game streamers within their channels prominently display buttons for donations, subscriptions, chat windows, and in-stream social media, while offering real-time interaction. The main objective is keeping the audience engaged by adding interactive elements within the stream. Likewise, businesses should monetize their streams with pay-per-view, or even offer several subscription levels to provide loyal subscribers with access to premium content and even custom features as some gamers do.

Enterprise streamers should also have calls to action within their streams, and provide users with ways to directly engage with them through polls, visual information, Q&A, and live chat. All of these elements help businesses build a closer relationship with their viewers. You can also offer merchandise (known as “merch” in the gaming and music worlds) and upsell related physical or digital tie-ins to your streams.

Traditional content creators should also sponsor or participate in live events where subscribers can directly meet and interact with creators, speakers, or key individuals. As an example, Twitch.tv reaches out to several major influencers to participate in competitions called PAX Arena, delivered as sponsored broadcasts with the platform’s top streamers and partners. Audiences can watch their favorite Twitch streamers face off in a head-to-head competition. This must-see spectacle consolidates the viewership of all the streamers into a single event. These sponsored gaming tournaments are perfect platforms for product placements and brand integration at live events, enabling brands, advertisers, and publishers to reach out directly to the massive gaming audiences.

Traditional online broadcasters can expand their audiences as well as their revenues by making some minor adjustments to how they produce their streams by following the example of game streamers. It’s all about building the relationship by being relatable and accessible, and giving your viewers the content and connection they want. As experienced streamers with established brands, you’ve got the tools you need. It’s just a matter of implementation and changing your perspective on how you address your audience.

[This column appears in the October 2016 issue of Streaming Media magazine as "What Enterprise and Traditional Online Broadcasters Can Learn From Video Game Streamers."]

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