Twitch and Live Poker with Alex Dreyfus

Twitch and Live Poker with Alex Dreyfus

alex-dreyfus-3-f5_orig_f5The Unibet Open and the European poker Tour have both, so far, streamed live events on Twitch, but the Global Poker Masters was the first live event which had the look and feel of being a genuine ‘Twitch’ event.

The GPI Twitch page attracted over 1.2 million views in the two days it aired, with a peak viewership of over 10,000. I spoke with Global Poker Index boss Alex Dreyfus to learn more about the partnership:

“When we launched the Global Poker Masters it was June 2014, it had been in my mind for two years. We started to look at Twitch in September 2014 when Amazon acquired them. I met the Management Team in December and discovered we had the same vision for poker, so we could work together. 

There were a few poker events already on Twitch, but we the first to be endorsed by and really embrace Twitch. There was a Twitch banner during the event, the head of Twitch poker at the press conference etc. There was a rich partnership, that’s why they pushed us a lot. To be honest our traffic was not organic it was pushed on the homepage for two days which gave us the exposure we got.”

“I don’t think it was a success”

DSC_25461.2 million views is a staggering number in poker industry terms, but given that Twitch attracts over 100 million unique viewers a month, was Dreyfus happy with the results of his debut Twitch poker event?

“No, I don’t think it was a success.

The aggregate number was above our expectations because when we announced it we said we wanted to reach 1 million, so with 1.2 million I can’t complain. But big numbers doesn’t mean big engagement. Where we failed was the viewers who came from the homepage and didn’t know what they were watching. I think we could have improved the presentation of the product and the way we engaged the Twitch community.

We wanted to create more of an eSports experience. I can’t share the average view time, but it was much less than poker distribution, which make sense. It was lower than what we had on our normal poker distribution network, where we had 38-42 minutes on average (and 61 minutes in France). The people who watch on our poker distribution network are fans, the people who are watching on Twitch are not. There is a educational process”

The format of the Global Poker Masters was very much in keeping with the philosophy of the Global Poker Index, and Dreyfus’s own vision to turn poker into a sport, and poker players into celebrities. It had a small field, all of whom were big names. Does Dreyfus think that all major events should stream on Twitch, or just formats like this?

“I don’t think it’s legitimate for the WPT/WSOP/EPT to stream on Twitch. They can be there, but I don’t think it will very successful. People on Twitch are looking for interaction with ‘celebrities’. In poker you don’t find the big names any more at the final tables of WPT/WSOP/EPTs besides High Rollers. The whole point of the GPI is to build a platform that enables fans to follow top players, and ensure these top players are exposed. 

Twitch should focus on unique content that will be dedicated to the platform and community.”

“Twitch is only one platform”

gpm-finals_orig_f5So what next for the Global Poker Index and their presence on the platform? What lessons has he learned for the future?

“We are still learning. In two days we got more views on Twitch than PokerStars did for two EPTs on the same platform. It showed us that team poker can work, if it’s legit and if it is well marketed. GPI will continue to work on team poker.

In a few weeks, we will most likely do a weekly show like an ESPN sports centre. We will try and educate the audience more about poker. Then during the WSOP we will have a booth and stream a lot during the book. Then we will launch the Global Poker League after the WSOP.”

Dreyfus clearly understands the potential of Twitch way beyond the sheer number of potential viewers involved. Is the plan of action for the next event to get people watching the stream for longer, rather than just more views?

“The next focus will be on how we can engage the Twitch community rather than get more viewers. 

Twitch is only one platform, we must be careful to rely only on Twitch. The peak Jason Somerville had on Twitch was about 25,000 uniques at the same time, we got up to 10,000 at the same time. The question is when there is more content available, will it increase the potential of Twitch or not? I don’t have the answer, I just hope it’s the case. Like any new platform, we need to educate ourselves about Twitch to create the right kind of content for their community.”

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