Is Twitch Becoming a Go-to-Platform for Football? MLS Banks on its Digital Reach

The MLS has not only signed a deal with Twitch to stream the eMLS Cup, but now offers viewers the chance to view the Generation Adidas Cup. Is Twitch a future football platform, too?

DAZN is the OTT player of choice for a lot of people who want to watch football digitally. There are a lot of other options, but Twitch, actually known for streaming various content like eSports or even real time demonstrations and what have you, could soon be an important starting point for tech-savvy viewers to consume football or football-related content. For the MLS is teaming up with Twitch to show streams for their eMLS Cup as well as for the Generation Adidas Cup, where club academy teams meet each other. These are exmaples other brands might follow soon, since Twitch grows in importance for the digital media landscape by the day, it seems.

The MLS and Twitch team up

The streaming service has been bringing the Generation Adidas Cup to the audiences, a tournament of club academy teams from the MLS with tomorrow’s stars from North America participating. Eric Brunner, who is the head of business development and partnerships at Twitch’s sports division, said:

This agreement with MLS provides a new avenue for developing and growing an active community through interactive viewing. MLS is a forward-thinking brand that looks to provide innovative methods that allow their community to make meaningful connections on a global scale.

The MLS may have just over 10.000 followers on Twitch, where according to Business of Apps 15 million daily viewers and 2,2 million creators meet eacht other. But they are present there, while other leagues or clubs are not. And Twitch is growing in importance in the modern day digital marketing mix. Last year, 560 billion minutes of content were watched on the platform, up from only 72 billion in 2012.

Minutes spent watching Twitch content, 2012-2018, © Statista

As the US account for about 20 per cent of the global Twitch viewership market, using this channel is a shrewd move from the US football league. But since German had a 6,36 per cent share of this market in 2018 as well, which is a very good amount, the Bundesliga or its clubs could consider turning to switch, too. But what is in it, what does it offer compared to Facebook and Twitter, who also enable streaming?

Twitch is the gamers’ streaming service

First of all, Twitch is a channel for gamers. Whoever wants to watch gaming content, will turn to this platform, where especially Fornite or Apex Legends and Dota2 are popular. FIFA from EA Sports isn’t amongst the most viewed games, but it is still an impotant part of the whole ecosystem. That’s why the MLS shows the eMLS Cup via Twitch, its own eSports FIFA tournament.

Former MLS player Stephen Keel even has his own show on the MLS Twitch channel. So, mainly gaming fans or eSports fans, who appreciate FIFA or the eMLS, will come back to Twitch, for the users of the platform are generally quite loyal. But the MLS is thinking beyond just merging eSports with their own brand – that is something that long has happened, although not too many football entities have started to leverage the potentials of Twitch yet. Schalke 04 are one team, their team’s eSports games have been streamed since late 2017.

The Schalke 04 eSports games are streamed on Twitch, © Twitch

For the MLS, though, getting a stream of football games, albeit only youth games for now, on the channel is a step to put the streaming service’s abilities to provide football via this platform to the test. That even got professional eSports players watching – although they might be spending some time on Twitch anyway.

Still, eventually Twitch could become something of a valuable away ground for football associations. It’s certainly not their known playground, football used to be tied to TV so closely, now it has just made a transition to several OTT services. But people more and more get used to watching content via streams and young audiences even grow up using them to watch content. Jury’s out regarding the impact the streaming service will have for leagues or clubs that believe in it to get them more attention and viewers. Since gaming is fast becoming one of the modern days’ main hobbies or pastimes, trying to reach people on Twitch now might not be too much of a long shot. Rather, it seems to be a clever stroke in order to not only approach the eSports universe by forming teams, leagues and fitting merch, but also trying to immerse in the most prominent environment and take advantage of its various benefits. It might not be the obvious choice, but with a view to the future, turning to Twitch is well worth a try.

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