Streaming for fun and profit with StreamElements founder Doron Nir
On Twitch, the most popular online streaming platform, viewers consumed 2.3 billion hours of content in Q4 of 2019 alone — with more than 82 million hours of pure live streaming.
The fastest-rising new media stars aren’t on TV, but on streaming platforms like Twitch, Microsoft Mixer, Facebook Gaming, and YouTube Live. Leveraging sophisticated broadcasts — with interactive live chats, dynamic visual overlays, and even virtual giveaways — these full-time gamers, creators, and online personalities are attracting thousands of live viewers.
But these streamers don’t do it alone. They’re supported by companies like StreamElements, which offer sets of production tools that make the broadcast happen.
We sat down with StreamElements founder Doron Nir on the latest episode of the What’s NEXT podcast to discuss the company’s role in this emerging, dynamic industry. Doron talked about building a business model around live streaming, how gaming is evolving to coalesce around streamers, and how new platforms enable new stars to emerge.
Supporting a live stream broadcast
“Live streaming is just really individual content creators. So it’s all about talent,” says Doron. “This category is maturing and attracting more talent and more brands and more money and viewership.”
But streaming is more than a full-time job for many creators, and they lack the time, resources, or know-how to reach audiences with network-quality production and viewer engagement tools — such as engaging visuals, interactive audience features, and automated responses to live chat.
StreamElements provides user-friendly features that allow creators to connect more richly with their audiences and grow them. It currently offers more than 70 different modules — all of which help streamers generate more loyalty from fans, and as a result, greater revenue.
Given those audiences, brands have started courting streaming talent. With its close connections to the talent, the startup has become a matchmaker between streamers and sponsors. Using an agency-style approach, StreamElements maintains a database of thousands of streamers across numerous platforms — and tracks metrics for things like audience size and demographics, geographic reach, level of brand safety, and more. StreamElements can then connect brands with the right talent for sponsorship opportunities.
“We just have a very deep and intimate understanding of the medium and its creators,” says Doron. “We know their audience. We know their personal flavor. This is something that we help curate for brands, and then we approach streamers and make sure the relationship is off to a great start.”
Evolving streams for interactive viewership
As streamers attract larger audiences, industry stakeholders — brands, video game publishers, and streaming platforms themselves — are pouring more money into attracting top talent.
“It’s almost like the content strategy you see from streaming services like Netflix or HBO,” says Doron. “They’re spending millions of dollars to lure talent to stream on their platform — battling it out to have the best content creators and the best shows.”
Game publishers themselves are evolving to accommodate streaming. With the recent release of games for Fortnite and Apex Legends — mega-hits among streamers — publishers like Electronic Arts have realized that streamers could be primary channels for marketing and promoting game content.
“With Apex Legends, it was really the first time that EA said, ‘We’re just going to dump a whole bunch of money into top streamers that will play this game for two, three weeks and nothing else,'” says Doron. “Streaming is now one of the best places to launch a game.”
With this trend, game publishers are also coming to view video games not only as at-home playing experiences but as cinematic viewing experiences — broadcast to thousands of viewers from the live streams of prominent streamers.
As such, game publishers are beginning to include audience participation elements into new games, such as, for example, the ability to grant a streamer more life points in the game they’re playing, if they generate enough engagement in the live chat.
Growing online communities
While streaming is largely associated with gamers, Doron is quick to emphasize that the streaming community has many kinds of creators, producing many diverse kinds of content. “It’s the wild, wild West,” Doron says. “There are content types for live streaming, using our platform, that are just mind-blowing.”
One popular streamer, for instance, is a hairdresser who streams haircuts she gives to elderly ladies in her neighborhood as they discuss local goings-on. Another popular stream is hosted by two bounty hunters, who broadcast live as they track down wanted suspects.
Looking ahead, the biggest opportunity that Doron sees with StreamElements is the ability to help just about anyone build community, anywhere on the web. It may that the world’s next celebrities are just ordinary people, broadcasting live.
“At first, streaming doesn’t look like a very exciting medium,” he says.”But then over time, you realize this is really a combination of group therapy, live entertainment, and just a hangout. You know, this is not Oprah. This is not Ellen. These are real people that are broadcasting their life.”