Twitch wants the help of the poker world and the poker world appears to want the help of Twitch.
Following two separate but seemingly connected announcements in the last 24 hours, players have been given a glimpse into the future of poker broadcasting.
Although the use of Twitch by certain poker players is nothing new, PokerStars’ recent decision to set-up its own Twitch channel and make Jason Somerville its latest sponsored pro heralds a new direction for the operator.
Despite dropping out of the public eye since he lost his contract with Ultimate Poker (due to its ultimate demise), Somerville has maintained a solid fan base thanks to his popular poker stream: Run It UP!
Streaming live sessions and showing players how to improve their EV, Somerville’s Internet show has become extremely popular over the last few years and PokerStars is hoping this fan base will help kick start its own channel: twitch.tv/PokerStars.
The online stream will go live this Sunday, March 1, with the first episode of Run It Up! Season 3. For Somerville, the chance to represent PokerStars is not only a great way to get his Twitch series back in the limelight, but it will align him with his good friend and PokerStars leading pro, Daniel Negreanu.
“I’m delighted to become a member of Team PokerStars and can’t wait to resume my Run It UP! series on Twitch. I’ll be live streaming for several hours this coming Sunday and I can’t wait to hear from, and chat to, a growing group of poker fans as the broadcasts continue,” said Somerville.
Almost at the same time PokerStars announced it would be launching a Twitch service, Amazon outlined its intention to up its budget for poker based broadcasts. Noting the popularity of streams such as Somerville, Amazon hopes an investment in poker will help drive more young males onto the service.
At present the online streaming service attracts 100 million users a month, but the majority of users originates from gaming communities such as Minecraft and League of Legends. However, with more poker pros deciding to stream their online exploits via the service, Scott Ball believes this market could help Twitch expand its number of users.
Ball was hired back in November from Razer Inc. to oversee the expansion into poker and believes the millions of viewers who tuned into the WSOP on ESPN will also log into Twitch.
“Like videogames, poker is a game and we’ve grown that into a huge business,” Ball told the Wall Street Journal.
The push by Amazon and PokerStars appears to signal a new, potentially lucrative, direction for both industries. Twitch typically takes 50 percent of the ad revenue generated by its streams and channels such as PokerStars could easily become a healthy revenue source.
Similarly, with 100 million users visiting the site each month, the poker industry could find a wave of new players migrating over from their regular games and on the felt in the coming months.