Twitch in e-sports stream­ing deal

Firm signs 2-year pact to be ex­clu­sive home for many Bliz­zard video game con­tests.

Los Angeles Times - - COMPANY TOWN - By Paresh Dave paresh.dave@la­times.com Twit­ter: @peard33

Video stream­ing ser­vice Twitch an­nounced Tues­day a two-year deal with Bliz­zard En­ter­tain­ment to be­come the ex­clu­sive third­party home for many of the Irvine game maker’s es­ports events.

Bliz­zard En­ter­tain­ment can con­tinue to stream video game com­pe­ti­tions on its own ser­vices, in­clud­ing MLG.TV and Bliz­zard.com. But the global ex­clu­siv­ity deals a blow to Face­book, Twit­ter, YouTube, ESPN and other apps com­pet­ing for stream­ing rights to the grow­ing form of en­ter­tain­ment.

Bliz­zard En­ter­tain­ment par­ent Ac­tivi­sion Bliz­zard Inc. was among early adopters of Face­book’s live-video fea­ture, and it has long used YouTube to spread its con­tent. The gam­ing com­pany may con­tinue to use those ser­vices for some un­spec­i­fied com­pe­ti­tions.

Fi­nan­cial terms of the Twitch deal were not dis­closed. Bliz­zard En­ter­tain­ment, whose games in­clude “StarCraft II,” “Over­watch” and “World of War­craft,” didn’t re­spond to re­quests for com­ment.

The agree­ment marks the sec­ond ma­jor video rights deal in the bud­ding es­ports in­dus­try, fol­low­ing BamTech guar­an­tee­ing in De­cem­ber $300 mil­lion over seven years to dis­trib­ute “League of Leg­ends” tour­na­ments for cre­ator Riot Games.

Twitch Chief Op­er­at­ing Of­fi­cer Kevin Lin said a mul­ti­year ar­range­ment would give the Ama­zon.com sub­sidiary breath­ing room to de­velop fea­tures tai­lored to e-sports spec­ta­tors. It also shows how Ama­zon has be­gun to find ways to de­rive value from its near $1bil­lion pur­chase of Twitch in 2014.

“We could build some­thing largely ad­ver­tis­ing-and li­cens­ing-driven or we can try to do some new things [to make money] in es­ports,” Lin said. “This gives us more flex­i­bil­ity and time to think through this.”

A key part of the ex­per­i­men­ta­tion will be ty­ing into Ama­zon Prime, the on­line re­tailer’s $99-a-year sub­scrip­tion pack­age for mu­sic, movies and dis­counted ship­ping. Twitch users with Prime re­ceive their own perks, in­clud­ing free game-re­lated mer­chan­dise.

As part of the agree­ment with Bliz­zard En­ter­tain­ment, Twitch plans to of­fer clear guid­ance to sub­scribers about what game goods they’ll get over the next two years. First up is a vir­tual item that nor­mally costs about $25 to get for the the shoot­ing game “Over­watch.”

“Be­ing part of Prime al­lows us to be flex­i­ble,” Lin said. “There are some cool in­te­grated fea­tures for Prime mem­bers that are com­ing.”

Ri­cardo DeAratanha Los An­ge­les Times

THE DEAL is a blow to Face­book, Twit­ter, YouTube, ESPN and other apps com­pet­ing for e-sports stream­ing rights. Above, a stu­dent’s video stream on Twitch.

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