Fox invests $100M in video-game streaming startup Caffeine
- 21st Century Fox invested $100 million in Caffeine, a startup streaming service for video-game fans that seeks to compete with Amazon's Twitch. Caffeine, which is still in beta testing, will stream video games, esports tournaments and live concerts, Fortune reported.
- Fox also formed a joint venture with Caffeine called Caffeine Studios that will produce exclusive content, per Variety. New Fox, a company created to hold onto Fox assets that Disney isn't acquiring as part of a $71.3 billion deal, will continue to co-own Caffeine Studios.
- Lachlan Murdoch, the chairman of Fox and eldest son of Rupert Murdoch, will join Caffeine's board of directors. Former Apple TV designers Ben Keighran and Sam Roberts founded Caffeine in 2016.
Fox's investment in Caffeine is part of a broader trend of tech and media companies that seek to snag a share of the ballooning market for video-game streaming and esports, which consist of competitive gaming among professional players. Esports revenue is forecast to grow more than 38% to $906 million this year from 2017, and brands will invest $694 million in the budding industry, according to Newzoo research. Newzoo expects esports revenues to reach $1.7 billion by 2021 as the global audience grows to about 307 million viewers.
Fox's financial backing gives Caffeine a stronger underpinning to compete with Twitch, which Amazon bought in 2014 for $970 million. Twitch has an average of 15 million daily active users, a number that rivals top cable networks. Viewership has grown 51% to 45 billion minutes a month in 2018 from a year earlier, and the number of individual broadcasters has jumped 61% to 3.2 million, per Twitch data. Caffeine's competitors also include Microsoft's Mixer, Twitter Live, Facebook's Fb.gg and Google's YouTube Gaming, according to The New York Times.
To compete effectively against those bigger rivals, Caffeine will need to invest in original content and events that draw a mass audience. In March, Twitch broke viewership records when rapper Drake played the popular game Fortnite with a gamer named Ninja. More than 600,000 people viewed the game at the same time, per CNet. Caffeine aims to differentiate itself by putting more emphasis on personal conversation between broadcasters and their friends and fans to avoid the harassment seen on other platforms, according to Variety.