dominates the esports streaming services in the West. Its unique audience allows brands to target hard-to-reach young, high-income, tech-savvy males.

This post is by Robbie Edge, Social Insights Manager at MEC.

Since 2010, the once-predominately Korean phenomenon of esports (competitive gaming) has grown into a fully-fledged part of western popular culture and is attracting huge audiences.

Big brands, such as Coca-Cola, Red Bull, Samsung, Nissan & Duracell (as well as a vast range of tech and gaming companies such as NVidia and Intel) are already involved, contributing towards the $194 million of revenue that esports generated in 2014 from investment, sponsorships, advertising, licensing and tickets. This is predicted to hit $1 billion by 2020, should current trends continue.

Coca-Cola, in particular, has been very involved in engaging esports fans. It has built a lasting partnership with League of Legends developer Riot Games and maintains a strong presence within the community via social media and experiential marketing at events. They have a dedicated esports Twitter profile, which grew by 13,000% in 2014 and even arrange for big events to be broadcast live to cinemas across the world.

Outside of attending the events in person or watching them in the cinema, the majority of esports core demographic of young, tech-savvy and high-income male viewers are not watching these events on television, but on a range of online streaming services. In the east, several of these services such as Afreeca (Korea) and Nico Nico (Japan) have proved dominant in their respective countries, while in the west, has dominated the entire market.

Originally set up in 2011, Twitch encourages gamers to stream their own gaming content. Like YouTube, content creators are financially rewarded via subscriptions and advertising for bringing in and engaging with viewers. This has led to the emergence of twitch celebs (many of whom earn enough from streaming to live off) and a very competitive environment of content creators, each trying to come up with their own unique spin on streaming.

Twitch now exceeds the average number of viewers gained during primetime on top male-serving cable channels in the US, such as MTV and AMC. It has also become the fourth-highest trafficking site during peak hours, right behind Netflix, Google and Apple. Per month in 2014, twitch saw 16 billion minutes watched, 100 million unique visitors and 11 million total videos broadcast. For this, it has gained acclaim in the world of media with Adweek naming it the 'hottest video platform' and Time giving it a place in its top 50 websites.

As with esports, brands are getting involved and a number of interesting campaigns have been run such as Old Spice's 'Nature Man' stunt, which enabled players to control a man on his adventure through nature via chat commands. This was inspired by the hugely popular 'twitch plays Pokémon' community event, in which 1.1 million people all played Pokémon together on a live stream by giving the game commands via the in-built chat.

The future certainly looks bright for twitch with its enthusiastic community of content creators and fans. As it continues to grow, there is no question that more brands will want to take advantage of the opportunity to target their advertising towards a traditionally hard-to-reach demographic.