Since before Amazon purchased it, Twitch has been in the crosshairs of a number of companies wanting to take down their monopoly. Google attacked with YouTube Gaming, but after almost 2 years, the product has not gained the traction that YouTube was hoping for.
The closest competitor that has emerged thus far is Beam, a company acquired by Microsoft, and integrated directly into Windows 10, inclusion Prime, Xbox One and Holographic. In the very short time the company has owned the product, it has grown greatly, but still does not pose a real challenge to the Twitch behemoth.
This week, a new challenger has emerged in a mostly unexpected place: Facebook. Rather than following YouTube's lead and building a platform and hoping people come, or following Microsoft's lead and buying an existing platform and hoping people use it, Facebook has made a surprisingly intelligent business decision. The company has paired up with ESL, the world's largest eSports organization, to bring 5,500 hours of tournament matches from Twitch to Facebook Live.
They will begin with monthly Counter-Strike: Global Offensive tournaments, with a regular prize pool of $40,000, so they are starting off light, but not small-time. Of the 5,500 hours, only 1,500 of them will be exclusive to Facebook. However, if you're going to watch part of the tournament on Facebook, it would be odd to switch to something else for other matches. That is definitely Facebook's hope for success.
This isn't Facebook's inaugural eSports project, but it is definitely the largest it has signed. If it is successful, Facebook will solidify itself as a contender in the game streaming market. It will not, however, be able to leave everything within the realm of Facebook. Instead, the platform would need to be treated more like Instagram or Messenger - an integrated but separate product.
Do you think that the 25% exclusivity will be enough for Facebook to carve out a place for itself in this massively emerging market? Let us know in the comments.