The live streaming sector continues to grow at a rapid pace, with the market expected to generate more than $70 billion next year. Streaming has created communities and driven revenues in the video game market for a number of years, but it is only recently that other industries have started to take note.
2020 has seen a sharp rise in the number of live “cook-alongs” with celebrity chefs, live musical “play-alongs” with up-and-coming new bands, and the i-gaming sector has also started to embrace the new technology. In its first wave of hype in the 2000s, poker had become a game that people tuned in to watch from home like they would a game of tennis or football, with dedicated poker television channels springing up around the world. However, the US clamp down on online gambling with the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) in 2006 marked the end of the first wave of poker, and viewership numbers dwindled.
The environment today has changed dramatically. Online gambling has grown to become a global phenomenon, and despite continued strict laws surrounding such games in the US, people are once again excited to both play these traditional games and watch live streams of others doing so. However, if live streaming is going to be a game0changer for online gambling, then the industry will need to fully embrace streaming and the democratisation that comes with it.
Streaming platforms need to be game agnostic to succeed. Developers can add all sorts of multiplayer and community features to their games, but it has become clear that it is only when you bring players from across a variety of games together that you can get the critical mass of people watching for the platforms to become a success. Those that want to watch others play at the tables, should not have to choose a different streaming platform every time – it should not matter whether the participants are playing and South African online casinos for real money or Malta-based casinos for free – the games should all be streamed via the same platform.
If gaming firms manage to get this right, they could have the right vehicle to finally attract the 18-35 demographic. Until now millennials have been generally luke-warm towards online gambling, but they make up the majority of live streamers, and so involvement with such platforms could prove lucrative for i-gaming firms.
Lloyd Purser, COO of Funfair Games, recently explained the possibilities of live streaming for the industry in an interview with SBC Leaders, saying: “Streaming has turned slot play on its head, bringing it out of the shadows as a single-player, solitary experience into a shared one, and multiplayer games are, and will, continue to do the same by driving new levels of community and engagement. For the time being, the multiplayer sector is relatively untapped, however we firmly believe it has as much, if not more, potential to grow within the casino world as streaming.”