Tuesday March 3,2015 : TWITCH COULD BE A MAJOR FEATURE IN POKER’S FUTURE (Update)
With Pokerstars interested, look for more use of this streaming technology in poker tournaments.
The news earlier this week that Pokerstars is interested in using the Twitch live streaming broadcast technology for at least some of its tournaments, and has hired expert user and poker pro Jason Somerville to advise on the medium, is being widely regarded as an indication that Twitch is about to become a major element in the poker tournament mix.
Online commerce giant Amazon was quick to see the potential of the video game streamer late last year, snapping up Twitch in a $970 million acquisition deal and, although poker currently comprises a mere 1 percent of its activity, Somerville and others have demonstrated that this is a popular, economical and efficient way to live stream poker tournaments.
The medium's ability to allow audience interaction with players – albeit on a four minute delay to preserve the integrity of the action – is proving to be a significant draw card.
Twitch Poker Partnerships exec Scott Ball claims that business in the poker sector is on an upward curve for Twitch, which boasts an audience of 100 million viewers, and a position in the top one hundred websites in the United States.
The entry of Pokerstars into this segment, aided by Somerville's empirical knowledge, is almost certain to give Twitch poker streaming a major boost. Announcing his involvement recently, Pokerstars spokesperson Kristy Thompson said:
“Jason is a unique proposition, a poker pioneer who has had great success both online and live, and brings something different to the table through the way in which he has built a popular live streaming poker show. I’m sure he will be a great ambassador for PokerStars and help to increase the level of interactivity between the brand and its players.”
In a Pokerstars press release this week, the company notes:
"Somerville represents the latest generation of poker pros, raised on American poker television and videogame culture. The young American has parlayed his poker passion into a successful Twitch feed, where fans watch his real-time play, commentary and strategic advice on the popular video platform and game community.
"He has been live-streaming his "Run it UP!" series to followers on YouTube and Twitch for the past 18 months. In his new role as a Team PokerStars Pro, he will launch Run it UP! Season 3 this coming Sunday, March 1 at 12.00 ET, which can be viewed on the PokerStars Twitch channel: http://www.twitch.tv/pokerstars.
"This marks the launch of the PokerStars Twitch channel, which will host a wide variety of entertaining and educational content, including streams from other members of Team PokerStars Pro."
Somerville has clearly used Twitch to great effect in his show, which has on occasion recorded online audiences of over 10,000, and he is known to have a large poker fan following with over 3.2 million Twitch views.
Livestreaming is proving increasingly to be a viable alternative to televised tournaments, and we are likely to see a lot more of this brand and those who are pioneering its use.
For now, Pokerstars plans to have Somerville's show live steaming for up to four hours a day until May 9 in a pilot program which will be followed closely by both fans and operators…and marketers.