Interactive Streaming and the Future of Content
Interactive streaming is one of this year’s major trends.
This month we’ve seen Netflix announce “Choose Your Own Adventure”-style shows. Last month saw the rebranding of Microsoft’s Beam to Mixer and the introduction of co-streaming. And Twitch began testing interactive overlays on their website directly.
We’re seeing an expansion from the passive streaming that built the livestreaming industry. Passive streaming is where you have players, and you have viewers, and those two segments are bifurcated apart from chat.
Instead, interactive streaming breaks the bifurcation and turns this bifurcation into a spectrum. Everyone becomes a “participant.”
Do you want to actively participate? If you have a controller and gaming rig, you can control camera and play.
Do you want to participate through your iPhone? If you have the app you may be able to set traps like the Hunger Games.
Or are you just hanging out with an extra browser tab and just tap around the stream and get information? You can interact and engage — you can participate — to the level with which you want to.
We consider each granular “interaction” a “micro-engagement”. These micro-engagements are a new type of business model that monetizes participants. As opposed to paying for an item as a player, you are instead paying for a fleeting moment of fun that you experience alongside millions of others.
Developers create value by seeing non-player participants as their customers and by creating awesome experiences that can be the basis for all kinds of new monetization.
Developers will be able to make significant profits from these experiences, and advertising, which had been the primary revenue model of streaming platforms until now, will become a secondary source.
And this is not just about games. We will see this happen in all media. We will see real sports data turned into game data in real-time. You’ll be able to click and interact with a live baseball game through a game engine. Furthermore, traditional media companies used to creating passive content are already looking at interactive streaming (as the Netflix example above shows.) Twitch has called it “social television.”
Game developers and traditional media companies, today on opposite sides of the spectrum between interactive and passive media, are both positioning themselves toward this new future. Game companies are steadily branching into media through their livestreaming efforts, and media companies (through VR and other products) are increasing pushing into the space operated by game makers. Who will get there first?