Facebook is seeking to build out its mobile video content by paying some professional gamers to livestream themselves while playing video games. The social network also lets gamers earn money directly from viewers who volunteer to pay “tips” through its platform, per Recode.
Leo Olebe, Facebook’s global director of gaming partnerships, said the company wants gamers to be able to make a living from viewer payments. Facebook plans to eventually take a cut of those donations, but hasn’t set the amount yet. It also wants to develop a business model for sponsors to pay content producers for posting the livestreamed videos.
Facebook last year allowed all users to livestream videos directly from a desktop computer on Facebook Live, per TechCrunch. Before adding that capability, the social network only allowed livestreaming from Facebook Pages, which are like a timeline for organizations, businesses, brands and public figures.
The news is the latest indication of the growing competition between Facebook, Amazon and YouTube in video. In order to have a healthy digital video platform, these companies need to attract creators, with gaming video an increasingly popular area. Facebook and Amazon are ramping up their efforts to attract creators at a time when YouTube could be vulnerable, as it has had to make a number of changes to address concerns over brand safety, some of which have been unfavorable to smaller creators.
Facebook wants to grab a greater share of the market for videos of people playing videogames for audiences to watch. About 500 million people worldwide watch gaming videos, which mostly are available on Google’s YouTube or Amazon-owned Twitch. In order for the market to become self-sustaining, content producers need to have monetary incentives to produce the videos, including tips and sponsorships. Twitter’s livestreaming platform Periscope also offers tipping.
Watching other people play videogames for entertainment or sport is big business, per The Wall Street Journal. The audience for esports competitions where people play videogames against each other has more than doubled since 2012, data from videogame industry tracker Newzoo BV show. The firm estimated 191 million people watched the competitions at least once a month last year, and that number will approach 300 million in 2018. Revenue from corporate sponsorships, media rights, ticket sales and other sources is on track to top $1 billion by next year.
Acitivision Blizzard this month launched its “Overwatch” videogame league that consists of competing teams who play the cartoonish shooter game against each other. The videogame publisher also signed a two-year deal with Twitch to stream Overwatch League matches, per The Wall Street Journal. Take-Two Interactive Software is building a pro league for its NBA 2K series in partnership with the National Basketball Association.