As Competition for Esports Streaming Heats Up, DreamHack and Twitch Sign a Multi-Year Deal

April 20, 2018

DreamHack has already established a significant place in esports history. The first-ever League of Legends World Championships took place at DreamHack in the summer of 2011. Countless victories and close defeats have been witnessed by thousands across a diverse selection of games, including StarCraft II, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO), Defense of the Ancients 2 (Dota 2), and Hearthstone. For the past 10 years, viewers who weren’t in attendance were able to view all of the action on Twitch.

DreamHack is a Swedish gaming event organizer that bills itself as “the world’s largest digital festival.” The organization was born in November 1994. A couple of friends rented a school cafeteria in Malung, Sweden and spent a weekend “coding and hacking.” Today, DreamHack holds the official “Guinness Book of Records” world record for the world’s largest LAN party (with 22,810 computers connected to their network). Beginning in 2002, DreamHack became a semiannual event with DreamHack Summer held in June and DreamHack Winter taking place in November. In addition to these events, DreamHack also holds regular festivals in Marseille and Tours, France; Stockholm, Sweden; Austin, Texas; Montreal, Canada; and Atlanta, Georgia.

Twitch is currently the most popular online service for watching and streaming digital video broadcasts. Twitch was founded in 2011 as a category exclusively focused on video games on the live-streaming service Justin.tv. Twitch became so successful that it overshadowed its host service, and eventually Justin.tv was shut down and replaced by Twitch. Twitch has evolved into multiple elements of pop culture, including streams of music, exercise, game and talk shows, home and car care, etc. (much like what Justin.tv would feature), but its focus is still mainly video games. Twitch was purchased by Amazon in 2014, and it features over two million unique streamers each month.

Photo Credit: The Esports Observer

For the past decade (stretching back to the Justin.tv days), Twitch has been the exclusive site to broadcast DreamHack’s various gaming festivals and tournaments. In fact, DreamHack was one of the first tournament organizations to team up and live broadcast with Twitch.

Now this partnership looks to continue for the foreseeable future as the companies announced a new multi-year deal. The content agreement also includes live coverage of all of DreamHack’s premium esports content broadcast in 13 languages, including English, German, French and Russian.

“DreamHack and Twitch share many things in common, including a love and commitment to our collective esports community. This is what makes this partnership exciting every time we renew it. The last 10 years have been amazing, but the coming years are even more exciting as esports continues to grow at a rapid pace,” said Marcus Lindmark, CEO of DreamHack.

DreamHack will run 11 major esports events this year, giving out over $2 million in prize money, and Twitch will also be the Head Partner for four of these festivals: DreamHack Tours, DreamHack Austin, DreamHack Montreal and DreamHack Atlanta. Twitch will continue to host the popular Twitch Player Lounge and the Twitch After Party at DreamHack events each year.

“Over the last decade, DreamHack has hosted numerous massive events that have played an important role in growing the competitive gaming scene,” said Justin Dellario, Head of Esports programs for Twitch. “By letting Twitch shine our global spotlight on these amazing competitions and festivals, it has helped accelerate the industry’s growth even more to the delight of our fans around the world.”

While Twitch remains the place most people head to for esports content (market research firm Newzoo recently analyzed 10 months of Twitch service and found that over 100 million users had streamed 800 million hours of esports), the site is facing competition from some big-name players. And they are chipping away at the site’s dominance.

Facebook lured global esports company ESL away from Twitch in a deal to bring over 5,500 hours of esports events and other original programming to the social media giant. The platform also announced content partnerships with the esports teams Team Dignitas and Echo Fox. Facebook is trying to make its platform friendlier to live streamers by adding support for desktop streaming to user profiles, allowing gamers to more easily stream their gameplay.

“With over 1.94 billion monthly active users on Facebook, this is a huge step toward expanding the reach of esports among mainstream audiences,” Johannes Schiefer, Vice President of Social Media and Editorial at ESL, said in statement. “Last year, ESL content generated over two billion impressions and reached over 200 million users on Facebook globally. Now, with the addition of live streaming for all major ESL events, as well as exclusive content around CS:GO and ESEA (Esports Entertainment Association), we are excited to expand our reach to more audiences and build strong local communities of highly engaged esports fans.”

Twitter has also entered the live streaming fray. The social networking service announced a partnership with ESL and DreamHack to bring over 15 events from the ESL One, Intel Extreme Masters, and DreamHack circuits to Twitter. These events will be available for live streaming on the web and directly through the Twitter app.

Streaming across multiple platforms was pretty common in the early days of esports. Yet, as platform fought for control, exclusive agreements became standard between esports content providers and live streamers. Now, even though Twitch recently secured the exclusive broadcast rights to the Overwatch League, other providers are moving away from exclusivity. For example, the Capcom Pro Tour just made deals to live stream their content on Facebook and YouTube in addition to Twitch.

It will be interesting to see the impact of these Facebook and Twitter deals. As the esports industry continues to grow (it is expected to reach $1.488 billion by 2020), expect competition for the rights to esports content to increase greatly. For more insights into the esports industry and how you can break into or make a greater impact on the scene, give us a call at 972-323-6354.