Twitch: Publishers hop onto gaming channels for audience and insights into commenting

Final Intel Extreme Masters World Best Gamers League Of Legends – Campus Party Brasil, by Camila Cunha/indicefoto, Wikimedia

TGIF! In my newsletter today, one of the featured stories was a piece in Digiday about how and why publishers are experimenting with Twitch. Gaming is one of those hugely popular pursuits that seems to sit just outside the mainstream while also being solidly mainstream in terms of numbers and adoption.

Twitch is something that as a non-gamer punches into my feed every once and while just in terms of its size and its popularity. One of the best ways to understand Twitch for a media professional is that it’s a platform for live streaming eSports. Its stats are phenomenal, as one would expect from a platform that taps into the Attention Economy equivalent of a highly addictive drug that operates at the intersection of gaming and video.

  • More than 15 m people watch Twitch daily, according to stats from April 2019.
  • More than 404 hours of content have been streamed in the past year.
  • “The most popular streamer, Ninja, earns at least $100,000 per month from Twitch alone.”
  • It currently ranks as the 26th most popular website in the world and the 13th most popular in the US.
  • Amazon bought Twitch in 2014 for a cool $970m, and its current value is $3.79 bn.

Digiday’s Kerry Flynn looked at why publishers are flocking to Twitch and their strategy on the platform. For eSports or gaming publishers, the move makes perfect sense. BuzzFeed Multiplayer, the digital publisher’s gaming channel, has some of its content available only to paying subscribers. The engagement for the content has some pretty staggering statistics, especially when you look at the amount of time that people are spending with the content. “One of Multiplayer’s most engaged streams was gameplay of ‘The Sims 4‘ and garnered more than 35,000 unique live views with more than 3,800 viewers watching for the entire three-hour stream and more than 4,300 viewers watching at once, according to the publisher.” Eeep.

But for publishers not working in the gaming space, the work is more experimental in nature. I recently watched a bit of the Washington Post’s video of one of their reporters playing a video game and interviewing Democratic Sen. Cory Booker, who also is one of the 25 members of his party running for president. It was a bit surreal for me, but I understand the Jedi mind trick of it. You get gamers to engage with political issues while a young-ish candidate plays video games. I would have to be well rested to talk about tax policy and play a video game.

But apart from tapping into this huge flood of attention, publishers are finding the comments on Twitch can be good. The Washington Post said that they found viewers asking some great questions about the Mueller report. It makes me think about whether there is a way regional publishers and broadcasters like the one I work can tap into this or if it’s just a place for national publishers who can get guests with a national profile. Lots of questions.

Well, this week is a wrap, almost. Hello to the new subscribers to the newsletter this week. If you aren’t a subscriber, you can get 10 media stories from around the world in your inbox week daily with very brief context by going to my Nuzzel profile and signing up. And if you spot a good story, let me know on Twitter, @kevglobal.

How to get onto Instagram’s Explore tab

Exploring, by Tom Bullock, from Flickr, Some Rights Reserved

Hello new newsletter subscribers! My how your numbers have grown.

Topping today’s international media newsletter is a great summary from TechCrunch on the signals that Instagram uses to put content on the new Explore tab.

At the public media group where I work, we’re seeing some early indications that Insta is helping us reach parts of our community that we want to serve but we currently aren’t connecting with. For instance, we recently ran a series about African-American women who had suffered trauma in their lives and how they received support. Our posts on Instagram took off, while they didn’t get much traction on Facebook, which is the opposite of what we normally see.

TechCrunch says that Explore will match content with topics and accounts similar to what an Insta user already follows. Videos and highly visual stories without much text will also have a higher chance of getting on the Explore tab. It’s a great post to bookmark.

Other topics include:

And that’s a wrap for this week. I’ll see you on Monday. If you don’t already subscribe to the newsletter, you can on my Nuzzel profile page. And please, please send me stories, @kevglobal on Twitter, especially outside of the US. Kevglobal really is global.

Washington Post amps up Arc with subscription tools

The Washington Post is supercharging its platform Arc, with a big marketing and development push. Photo: 1941 Willys Americar 441 Coupe Hotrod, by Sicnag, from Flickr

Hello new subscribers! Welcome from Suchandrika Chakrabarti‘s great post on newsletters that freelancers should subscribe to.

Topping today’s newsletter is a story about new subscription features that the Washington Post is building into its CMS, Arc. As I highlighted in a recent newsletter, the Washington Post sees Arc as business that can grow to $100m as it sells the CMS to other publishers. This feels like a major push for Arc.

Also in the newsletter:

If you are just seeing this and haven’t subscribed to the newsletter, sign up here. And please, if you spot a good story – especially a good media story outside of the US – let me know on Twitter @kevglobal.

Slate expects almost half of its revenue to come from podcasts

Headphones on a baby, by Gideon Tsang, from Flickr

The top story in the newsletter today reminds me how reader revenue, whether that be through subscriptions or memberships, is remaking media. Digiday is reporting that Slate expects nearly half of its revenue to come from podcasts, but the thing that stands out is Slate sees this as supporting their subscription model, Slate Plus. They aren’t looking for syndication deals. It’s all about building a loyal, paying audience on their own platform. How times have changed. From Digiday:

But where some of the newer scripted podcast producers are eyeing the big checks that platforms such as Luminary are writing, Slate sees them as a way to build its own business. Kammerer said that while Slate has had discussions with podcast platforms about licensing or producing exclusive shows for platforms, it has declined to pursue them because it is more interested in using its shows to build Slate Plus.

Slate expects nearly half of its revenue will come from podcasts this year, by Max Willens, Digiday

And I also want to highlight Reach PLC (formerly Trinity-Mirror and also a former client of my consultancy, Ship’s Wheel Media) and their efforts to try to bring some comity to the discussions around Brexit with their Britain Talks project. Their efforts to engage audiences, not only with their journalism but also in broader issues, really impresses me, and I appreciate more than most the challenging business environment that they are operating in.

As always, if you have a media business story that you think I should highlight in the newsletter, let me know on Twitter @kevglobal. And you can subscribe to the newsletter here.

The Bezos Post: The Graham family’s honourable gamble

Jeff Bezos’ purchase of the Washington Post and its community newspapers caught me and just about everyone else by surprise, with the possible exception of the Graham Family, which has owned the paper for the last 80 years. They have been talking to a half dozen buyers since last December. As I said on Twitter when I found out, this was the most surprising deal since AOL bought Time-Warner, although I hope for Bezos and the Post that the result is different. 

Like a lot of media watchers, I was trying to make sense of this head scratcher. As Steve Yelvington said on Facebook:

Jeff Bezos’ purchase of the Washington Post is as interesting for what he didn’t buy as for what he did. It’s not a real estate gambit; he didn’t buy the Post HQ building (which is still on the market). He did’t buy @wapolabs, which seems to have gone dark anyway. He didn’t buy Slate. And he didn’t buy Kaplan, which operates in an industry (education) that seems ripe for disruption.

I got a chance to scratch my head in public on the BBC today. Thinking back on it, I think that the sale says more about the Graham family than it does about Bezos at this point. The Graham family vetted six different buyers, and they chose Bezos. In the New Yorker, David Remnick, who spent a decade writing for the Post, and he spoke to publisher Katharine Weymouth, a member of the Graham family. She said:

Don took this process extremely seriously. He would not have sold the paper to anyone who didn’t share our values.

Donald Graham, and the rest of the family, truly seemed to have come to believe that the newspaper would be better off under Bezos than under their stewardship. Graham told the Washington Post’s Ezra Klein this:

As we looked ahead, if revenues kept declining we’d have no choice but to keep cutting. Roughly 85 percent of stock in the Post Company is owned by shareholders not in the Graham family. So the money we’re losing isn’t our own. We didn’t feel good about that. Still we were quite certain that The Post could survive and have a long future, but we wanted to do more than survive. We wanted to be successful and expanding and financially strong. So for the first time in either of our lives we asked ourselves if we thought our small public company was still the best place for the newspaper.

One thing that wasn’t covered very much was the business terms of taking the newspaper private. However, one assumes that this isn’t a Sam Zell-Chicago Tribune leveraged-to-the-hilt buyout that assumes the worst case scenario is flat revenue just before the global economy almost takes a swan dive off a cliff. 

What will Bezos do to help the Post “do more than survive”? Bezos is bringing his customer-centric focus to the Washington Post, and he implicitly understands the relentless urgency of news in the internet age. In his letter to the Post staff he wrote:

The Internet is transforming almost every element of the news business: shortening news cycles, eroding long-reliable revenue sources, and enabling new kinds of competition, some of which bear little or no news-gathering costs. There is no map, and charting a path ahead will not be easy. We will need to invent, which means we will need to experiment. Our touchstone will be readers, understanding what they care about – government, local leaders, restaurant openings, scout troops, businesses, charities, governors, sports – and working backwards from there. I’m excited and optimistic about the opportunity for invention.

However, this is a man who also has not only the resources but also the mindset balance the impatience of internet time with a grounding in a long-term vision. As Matt Buchanan wrote in the New Yorker:

Bezos is a man, after all, who’s trying to build a clock that will run for ten millennia which is buried inside of a remote mountain in Texas, simply because he desired the existence of “an icon for long-term thinking.” 

The Graham family’s bet on Bezos is a brave, honourable gamble, and I hope for the Post, for their staff, for Washington and for journalism, that Bezos is the man for the challenge. It is going to be a great experiment to watch. 

Other interesting takes on this: 

• Alan Mutter riffing on the idea of Washington Post Prime in the Post’s Wonkbook blog.
Megan McArdle’s look at the deal in Bloomberg. The most fascinating part of her post has nothing to do with the Washington Post and newspapers but the numbers of the decline in ad pages for major magazines. (The double-digit decline in ad pages in The Economist and The Week took me by surprise.)
“Why Washington Post sale matters to you: scale and innovation” by Earl J. Wilkinson of INMA. I’ll be writing about this tomorrow. One of the best posts on the topic bar none if you’re a publisher or news executive.