Tech

Amazon's livestreaming platform Twitch will work 'much closer' with the music industry in Asia Pacific

Key Points
  • Twitch started off as a livestreaming site where users broadcast themselves playing various video games titles. 
  • Esports is still a big part of the platform but in Asia Pacific, the company will look to work much more closely with the music industry to bring more content on its platform.
  • Consumers watched content on Twitch worth more than 3 billion hours in the first quarter and in the second quarter, that number jumped to more than 5 billion hours, according to an industry report. 
Gamers from the Malaysia team compete in the qualifying rounds of the eSports event between Malaysia and Vietnam at the SEA Games (Southeast Asian Games) in Manila on December 5, 2019.
Ted Aljibe

Livestreaming platform Twitch plans to work a lot more closely with the music industry in Asia-Pacific to expand the non-gaming content on its platform, a senior executive told CNBC. 

Twitch, a subsidiary of U.S. tech giant Amazon, started off as a livestreaming site where users broadcast themselves playing various video game titles. Though esports is still a big part of the platform, it has since expanded into more diverse digital content including music, sports and other areas of pop culture.

One analyst estimated in June that Twitch was worth about $15 billion.

The service has grown across major markets in Asia-Pacific, in countries like South Korea, Japan, Taiwan and Australia, Sunita Kaur, senior vice president for the region at Twitch, told CNBC in an interview last week. Southeast Asia is on the verge of taking off as well, thanks to a rapid growth in esports, she added.

Music is also a priority for Twitch, according to Kaur, who left music-streaming platform Spotify to join Twitch earlier in February. She pointed to K-pop, a music genre from South Korea that has grown in popularity over the years, as an example where Twitch plans to provide more content. 

"Music is where we see the largest growth and coming from Spotify, this is quite close to my heart," she said. "We are going to be definitely spending more time working much, much closer with the music industry in Asia-Pacific region."

It is "a big focus for us as more and more artists turn to Twitch. The artists themselves are leaning in, labels are leaning in, to want to try and find out a little bit more about us," she added. 

Rise in livestreaming

The coronavirus pandemic has forced most people to stay indoors for extended periods of time as countries shut down businesses and travel in a bid to contain the outbreak. As such, many people turned to various forms of online entertainment.

Users watched content on Twitch for more than 3 billion hours in the first quarter and that number jumped to more than 5 billion hours in the second quarter, according to a livestreaming industry report. Total hours streamed on Twitch in the second quarter increased 58.7% from the first three months and 80.1% from a year ago, the report found.  

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"On average, when we look at the numbers, there are 1.5 million people tuned in to Twitch at any given time," Kaur told CNBC separately. Non-gaming content on the platform quadrupled over the past three years and in June, the total number of active broadcasters in Asia-Pacific doubled from a year ago, she added.

Kaur said she was confident that even when the pandemic ends, Twitch will be able to retain most of the new viewers, broadcasters and partners it acquired in recent months. 

Competition

Twitch faces competition in the region not just from global rivals like Facebook and YouTube, but also from regional and local livestreaming players. 

But, Twitch remains a popular outlet for gaming-related live streams and the Asia-Pacific market is predicted to generate more than $78 billion in game revenue this year

Kaur explained Twitch stood out against its competitors because of its infrastructure that supports high-quality broadcasting, and the ways available for users to make money.

Broadcasters can earn revenue through paid viewer subscriptions, advertisements and through virtual emotes that their supporters can send them over chat. Twitch takes a cut of the revenue creators earn, but the company declined to disclose how much it takes. 

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Safety and content moderation

Protecting users on social media against harmful content has been an important discussion.

Twitch has a minimum age requirement of 13 years and above, and many of those who do live streaming on the platform are teenagers.

In a recent piece on WIRED, the magazine said its investigation found dozens of channels that belonged to children under 13 years old and that anonymous chat participants were sending inappropriate messages to the minors.

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When asked about what steps Twitch takes to moderate the content on its platform, Kaur said the company has an extensive trust and safety team around the world that identifies and removes inappropriate content 24/7. The company declined to reveal how big the moderation team is.

"This is predominantly one of our single biggest areas of investment. We actually doubled the size of our safety operations team this past year. What this enables us to do is to process reports much, much faster, and we added new tools for moderators and viewers to control their experience," she added.