Video game streaming: the new frontier!

Video games have always been a competitive sport. Previously game boxes had pixelated high score graphics and all the kids wanted to be the one with the highest scores in their neighborhood. With the explosion of the internet and the release of iconic first-person shooters like Doom and Counter Strike, gamers from all over the world began to unite. In 1997, one of the first esports organizations, the Cyberathelete Professional League, was established. Since then, the gaming world has made a leap towards online gaming and streaming. Let’s take a closer look at the phenomenon.

The rise of gaming and online streaming

In the last four decades, online gaming has become one of the largest entertainment industries in the world. According to reports from PricewaterhouseCoopers, the global online gaming industry in 2010 was worth around $56 billion! This is bigger than the magazine or music industry and about two-thirds the size of the movie industry. According to a 2011 report from the Entertainment Software Association, the average age of a gamer in the United States is 37, and 42 percent of these gamers are women.

One of the biggest trends in live streaming today is not music (as you might have previously assumed), but competitive gaming. e-sports today attracts thousands of viewers. Currently, a number of sites, catering specifically to gamers and their fans, stream esports events. Various esports websites have exploded onto the internet as live webcasts take competitive video gaming to a whole new level, transforming it into a sport that is watched by millions of one that was once limited to insiders only.

Video game streaming: the big players

Among the big players in video game streaming today are and TwitchTV. started streaming video games online in 2010 and today the website receives more than four million unique viewers per month for live video game streams. In March 2011, the Electronic Sports League (ESL), the world’s largest gaming league, broadcast the Intel Extreme Masters event, which is among the most popular gaming tournaments of the year, via Own3D. With $400,000 in prize money, the gaming tournament drew 75,000 concurrent live viewers on individual event days, while the general audience reached several million players. In June 2011, over 200,000 concurrent viewers watched a Dreamhack contest (which is based on League of Legends, another popular game) on Own3D, with around 250 GBps of traffic during the event.

And live video streaming provider saw esports video streaming grow at such a rapid rate that they dedicated an entire website to it. In June 2011, they launched TwitchTV after video game streaming reached around 3.2 million monthly unique views on their main website. TwitchTV now attracts over 12 million unique viewers each month. It has also had a steady month-over-month growth rate of 11 percent since its launch. On top of that, TwitchTV has over 1,000 premium partners. It has also received over 80,000 downloads of its iPhone mobile app in less than a month since the app’s launch. Between October 10 and 16, the website received massive traffic, as can be seen from the following figures:

Total Hours Viewed: 6,737,250

Weekly unique viewers: 4,214,057

Total hours viewed per unique viewer: 1.6

Weekly Unique Chatters: 309,220

Maximum number of concurrent viewers on a single stream: 125,862

Peak concurrent viewers across all gaming content: 165,250

Video Game Streaming: Popular Genres

Here are some of the most popular genres in live online video game streaming:

Adventure (Assassin’s Creed II, Lego, Lost Planet)
Strategy (StarCraft II, Total War, Worms)
Sports games (FIFA, NBA 2K10, MLB 2K10)
Shooting (Modern Warfare 3, Bad Company 2, Left 4 Dead 2)
RPGs (Mass Effect 2, Dragon Age)
Racing (Need for Speed: The Run Playthrough Part 1!, GP2 Asia Series 2011)
Simulation (The Sims)
Massively multiplayer online role-playing game – MMORPG (World of Warcraft, Hydra 9)

Online Game Streaming: The Legal Side

By now, you may know or at least have heard about the new anti-streaming video-related bill: S.978. Currently, it is not illegal to stream, for example, a walkthrough of Call of Duty Modern Warfare 3 online, as it is considered a public performance. However, a bill like this would make such videos illegal. This bill may seem like a great deal at first glance, as it helps curb piracy, but as parts of the bill are quite vague, it could lead to some problems for members of the gaming and media enthusiast communities. Communication.

However, it is also possible that game developers and publishers decide not to process streaming players, thus leaving things as they are now. Given the plethora of such videos available on the web, it would be quite optimistic to think that game developers and publishers will have the time and money to go after users every time they break this alleged law. Furthermore, online video game streaming has created a win-win scenario for all parties involved.

Game streaming: a win-win situation

Websites like and TwitchTV see most of their traffic revolving around gaming events. However, these websites also feature live video streams of gamers playing popular video games at any given time. Some of these players are just amateurs who like to show off their gaming skills to other players, while some belong to professional gaming teams and are preparing for the next tournament.

Additionally, gamers today are increasingly monetizing matches as live video game streaming offers them another way to earn money and make a living. Live video game streaming websites like and TwitchTV have revenue sharing agreements with professional gaming partners. The most common types of monetization include ads, subscriptions, and pay-per-view.

TwitchTV, for example, has a revenue sharing plan where they sell ads on the player’s stream and the profits made are split between them. TwitchTV also includes automatic transcoding, where viewers can switch between a variety of quality settings, depending on their connection. In addition, partners also get early access to the latest Twitch technology, as well as the chance to try out new features.

Companies are also on the winning side. Zvetan Dragulev, CEO of, explained that they get 90 percent of their video views from professional gaming teams and events that get higher CPM rates compared to traditional user-generated live video streams. On top of that, advertisers also love the fact that they cater to a well-defined audience. So everyone is happy, well no one is happier than the players I guess!

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