Esports Event Streaming: 101
If you’re planning to put on an esports event, the list of business and technical requirements you need to take into consideration is substantial. As with any kind of a large project, the best way to ensure success is to break it down into smaller tasks that will interlock at the project’s conclusion to form the finished product. In that spirit, this post is going to focus on one of the most critical features of any esports event: the ability of participants to quickly, easily, and effectively stream (and view) the action. At a high level, you’re going to need to think about streaming-specific business challenges, the coordination of the streaming platform(s) you’re going to use, and – most importantly – you’ll need to think through and be ready to produce some great, event-specific content. It’s a tall order, but it can be done successfully (and eGency Global has helped some of those successes happen!).
Getting into the Game
The very first thing that needs to be addressed, before pretty much anything else, is getting access to the game or games that you want to use at the event. “Some publishers are happy to have you host events for their games, but others are very strict about how and where their games are used in a competitive setting,” explains Marcos Suarez, eGency Global’s Esports Strategist. “A good way to get ahead of this is to look at the existing event calendars for the bigger esports games, especially those that have franchised teams. You’ll have a better shot at getting approval and even participation if your event isn’t going head to head against one of their own,” Suarez explains.
Another business decision that needs to be made as soon as possible for the event organizer is the extent to which it will rely on sponsorship dollars. While the turnaround time on closing a deal with endemic sponsors can sometimes happen in a few months, partnering with non-endemic brands – particularly from the Fortune 50 – can end up drastically altering the planned timeline. “If you’re looking to partner with a multibillion dollar company, you need to allow for at least 18 months to close the deal,” says Stephanie Chavez, eGency Global’s Director of Marketing. “Most of these companies don’t have dedicated esports in-house experts, so you need to build a lot of time for the education of senior management into your new business development funnel.”
Streaming Partners That Count
Assuming you secure the rights for the games you want to use and you have the sponsorship question answered, next up is to determine your streaming service partnership strategy. Twitch, Mixer, and YouTube Gaming are all robust streaming platforms and all of them are willing to help out event managers. “All 3 of them are great partners and they all offer different things in the way of partnership,” says Suarez. “Some will rev share on ads placed in the streams, some will co-market on the event’s behalf, some will provide promotional merch…they’re all great partners. And all of them will advise you on the best way to use their platform in order to make your event a standout success.”
Content Curation & Creation
“Content is king” is as true today as it’s always been, and it’s even more critical when it comes to putting on esports events. You can have a technically-perfect set up, but if you haven’t planned for the beats of the day with pre-recorded and live content, you’re going to lose your audience. The central question the content strategy should address is the following: “Given the fact that most of the streaming views are going to be people dropping in and out of the action, how can we simultaneously prevent confusion AND provide engagement that will bridge the gap between high action game moments?”
“Have a solid mix of pre-recorded content and a plan for shoutcasting,” Suarez explains. “Packages on player or team bios, sponsored content, pump up reels, and interviews with game creators are all good things to have in the bank as you seek to program your streams.”
Just as critical – if not more – than the pre-recorded content is having a solid shoutcasting strategy. Good shoutcasters can be the key to maintaining the energy of the events between rounds of gameplay, in addition to providing the kind of insight and analysis you’d typically associate with NFL or NBA commentators. Pre- and post-match interviews with popular teams & players can bridge the time between matches and turn a 5 minute engagement into a 10 or 15 minute engagement. In addition, great shoutcasters can work miracles in the likely event that some kind of technical snafu derails the most carefully laid programming plans. Power outages, internet outages, and equipment failures can all cause significant delays and introduce lulls for which no pre-packaged content exists. Great shoutcasters can fill these unanticipated voids with commentary that holds viewers and helps to clarify any confusion the disruptions cause.
A big piece of content that has the ability to drive engagement and add a lot of fun to the streaming experience are the real time comments that come in from viewers as the matches are played. While most of this content – particularly in the more mature esports communities – is additive to the experience, you can count on the fact that you’re going to see at least a couple of trolls who are intent on disrupting the flow of the stream with inappropriate comments and/or profanity. That’s why you’ll need a good moderator or two. Moderators will need a lot of the same skills as shoutcasters, including the ability to think on their feet and turn potentially horrible experiences into successes. In addition, moderators can solve a lot of the problems engendered by the nature of event-driven streams, with people hopping in and out of the streams. This behavior causes a lot of people to pop into a match or experience and ask “Hey, what’s going on? Who’s playing? Who’s winning? Etc.” Moderators can quickly address these questions, allowing users to get into the action more quickly.
Esports events are, without doubt, some of the more challenging events to put on, but as the esports business matures, there are more and more resources to help mitigate some of the inherent risks. Many pro teams have dedicated marketing and technical folks to help sort through the challenges associated with using them at events. Similarly, many pro streamers can bring their expertise to the table, helping event organizers determine what types of content users will love, in addition to the production experience required to execute it. And, of course, there are folks like eGency Global, one of the most experienced esports event production agencies in North America. We can partner with you at concept all the way through event production, ensuring that the streaming component of your event has all the right content, avoids all the known risks, and ensures an experience that fans, players, teams, brands, and IP owners will love.
To learn how you or your organization can tap into opportunities in esports, please visit www.egencyglobal.com or call 972-323-6354 to speak with an eGency Global esports expert today.