Twitch hosts some of the most popular video content on the internet, but it doesn’t own much of it. That’s a challenge for the livestreaming platform as it attempts to make deals with brands and sponsors. But the company is aiming to directly address that by signing a partnership with esports organization Team Liquid.
Team Liquid is one of the biggest groups in esports. It has pros competing hits such as League of Legends, Dota 2, and Rainbow Six: Siege. The competitors are often a huge drawn for viewers on Twitch. Team Liquid stars stream their practices and casual play to tens of thousands of people.
Under this agreement, Twitch is the official manager of all Team Liquid sales. This means the Amazon subsidiary can take Team Liquid to brands and make sponsorship deals for its specific content. That’s different than Twitch’s more generic deals for pre-roll ads. This is the first time Twitch has made a direct management deal like this.
“Team Liquid is a giant in esports, with one of the most winning records in history,” Twitch sponsorships boss Kristen Salvatore said. “As Twitch strives to connect our trusted sponsorship partners with the esports community in more meaningful ways, working with a seasoned brand like Team Liquid offers commercial brands keen to enter the esports space the perfect opportunity to reach a savvy audience with relevant, high-quality content.”
This gives Team Liquid a well-connected partner to bring in more revenue.
“Since Team Liquid’s earliest days, we’ve been focused on building strong and rich communities, in addition to creating great content with winning teams across multiple sports,” Team Liquid co-CEO Steve Arhancet said. “We believe in strong and long-term brand partnerships that support these goals, and Twitch’s unrivaled network and expertise makes them the perfect partner to help us reach even more brands that share our vision.”
Twitch is focusing more on its stars
Twitch is now an established, mature platform. It is the go-to site for anyone looking to broadcast not only video game content, but content of any kind.
But now the company seems like it is looking for more ways to maximize its return on years of investment in technology and features. This has led to announcements a lot like today’s where Twitch puts a lot of resources into directly supporting or promoting its biggest creators.
Twitch spent much of 2018 working with creators like Fortnite streamer Ninja and PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds streamers Shroud and Dr. Disrespect on various events. The company brought in some of those streamers to headline a Doritos-sponsored livestream, and Ninja hosted Twitch’s New Year’s Eve countdown party. For the latter, Twitch angered many of its community streamers by running advertisements for Ninja on their channels. Smaller creators felt that Twitch was trying to drag their small audiences away to go watch the company’s current star.
At the same time, esports was the biggest driving force in turning Twitch into the success it is today. So a partnership with Team Liquid is potentially the company returning to its roots and focusing on its core audience. But it’s still strange for Twitch to act as a brand-management company instead of a livestreaming platform.
Finally, other esports teams could look at this deal with skepticism. Twitch tries to deliver sponsor opportunities to its Partner streamers. But some of those partners might end up feeling ignored because Team Liquid is ascending to a new tier within the Twitch-creator hierarchy.