Twitch continues to be one of the world’s leading platforms to live stream content and Australian football should build their presence on the service.
The FFA launched the E-League in 2018, a competitive Esports league where professional gamers played and represented A-League clubs in the FIFA video game series.
The league is broadcast on the Amazon subsidiary Twitch, with viewing numbers impressive across the board.
According to the Sydney Morning Herald, the opening night of the E-League saw 138,000 people tuning into the show, a figure which was bigger than most A-League games in the past few years.
Speaking at the time of the launch, former FFA head of commercial, digital and marketing, Luke Bould, explained that the idea behind the E-League was to attract a younger audience and build awareness of the A-League’s brand.
“We’re being entrepreneurial, we’re taking a risk. We have to be there and for us it’s a strategic advantage, there’s a million plus people playing this game and we don’t have enough fans of the A-League. We can try and influence them through this media,” he told SMH.
Bould claimed the E-league’s opening night attracted a larger social media following than any other streamed event covered by the FFA (including Bert van Marwijk’s unveiling before the 2018 World Cup).
“That’s the strongest thing we’ve ever done in terms of social platforms, whether it’s live press conferences, it’s by far the strongest thing we’ve ever done,” he said.
Fast forward two years, the E-League now has over 6,000 followers on Twitch and just under four million video views.
The Esports competition has engaged fans successfully on Twitch, but there are more options that Australian football can take advantage of on the platform.
Those in charge could develop strategies to encourage the sizeable E-League fanbase to further engage with real life A-League content, on the same service.
The issue is, there is no official A-League account on the live-streaming service.
The absence of this could be seen as a missed opportunity.
On the service, they now broadcast behind the scene’s footage, preview and review shows, special programs on featured players in the competition and much more.
The Spanish competition’s partnership with Twitch also allows for collaboration opportunities which benefits the streaming community.
Could the A-League enter a similar partnership on a smaller scale?
Since Fox Sports has currently cut back on producing A-League magazine shows, it could address a current hole in the market.
Producing exclusive real-life content on Twitch could also see more young football fans flocking to the platform, in addition to those who are already interested in the E-League competition.
It helps that Twitch is an extremely popular platform for a young audience (a market which Australian football administrators are currently targeting), particularly male.
According to Globalwebindex, 73% of Twitch users are aged between 16-34, with 65% of all users being male.
Another possibility for the Australian game is to follow the likes of famous clubs such as Real Madrid and Juventus, as well as leagues such as the English Premier League, in broadcasting live matches on the platform.
Real Madrid and Juventus have their own channels on the service and they have broadcast friendlies and youth team matches.
The English Premier League live-streamed matches on Twitch for UK users earlier this year for the first time.
With murmurs that the FFA Cup is set to be broadcast on YouTube next season, it may not be the worst idea to showcase some of those games on Twitch instead.
It would open up potential commercial opportunities for the present and the future, on a platform where Australian football needs to increase its visibility.
It could not only benefit A-League clubs, but also maximize the exposure for NPL clubs competing in the cup competition.
If Australian football is serious about its focus on engaging a digital audience, Twitch needs to be further entrenched in its plans.