SAN FRANCISCO: Twitch is looking to expand beyond its e-sports origins while new features put it in direct competition with the likes of YouTube, and marketers ought to take notice, an industry figure has said.

Last month, the Amazon-owned livestreaming platform, unveiled a new IRL feature – standing for 'in real life' – as it develops into a social video platform for people and communities, both gaming and non-gaming. And, in 2017, it also plans to launch native streaming from the Twitch mobile app.

"Anything and everything you're interested in can potentially become a topic of a stream," according to Twitch. Channels now available include cooking shows, art and programming tutorials and even social eating.

Chris Kerns, VP of Research & Insights at social software platform Spredfast, highlighted the scale of Twitch: 2m creators and 100m monthly viewers spending an average of 1.5 hours per day on the site.

And, he wrote in Marketing Land, based on Twitter mentions, "the live-streaming brand is very much top of mind, easily keeping pace or beating mentions of the biggest players in the [gaming] space".

On the same basis, he pointed out that "Twitch is, month-over-month, keeping close pace with Netflix, and eclipsing social mentions of big brands like iTunes and Spotify".

And with the top streamers boasting followers of up to 2.5m, they are on a par with YouTube vloggers who have attracted most brand attention.

"The biggest streamers have sponsorship opportunities," said Kerns, "whether it's paid placement on their pages, branded signs or hats in the video feed, or audible shout-outs."

Old Spice, the men's toiletry brand, explored some of the possibilities nearly two years ago when it dropped a live-streaming adventurer in the middle of the woods and allowed the Twitch comment stream to direct his actions.

"The live-streaming space may seem foreign to many," said Kerns, "but the data shows that it's a real player, deserving of real attention — not in six months, not next year, but now."

Data sourced from Marketing Land, Twitch; additional content by Warc staff