One year ago today, I sat down at breakfast with a few folks in Boston and told them that I was starting a management company for livestreamers. Later in the day, our website launched and we quietly became a real company. I had no idea where the Online Performers Group would head from there. It was exciting.
The work, of course, had begun months before that, as had conversations with our first two clients, CohhCarnage and Ellohime. It was in large part because of their encouragement, feedback and faith that the OP Group now is growing faster than we can hire people. A big thanks to the two of them for their patience and willingness to take a risk on a new idea.
For the first several months, we solidified our processes and began to answer some of the most difficult questions in the business of livestreaming. Bringing on Barry, with his broad understanding of the technology of streaming and Jenn, with her background in data analysis and deep understanding of online communities, has been a tremendous advantage. And a big thanks to Skyla, who has been with us since Day 1!
We’ve still got a long way to go as a team and a company, but the amount we’ve learned – statistically and business-wise – is staggering. As we celebrate our 1-year anniversary at OPG HQ, I wanted to share a few of the lessons we’ve picked up along the way.
Simplicity. For one major launch, where there was no money involved, the company provided a fifteen-page, 12MB PDF outlining what could and couldn’t be streamed on various days. It was so complex that many streamers responded with the same question: “when can we stream this without getting in trouble?”
Achievability. We routinely see deals for unknown or unproven games that require a 15+ hour commitment to the game. That’s a long time, even if the game is good. Streamers don’t want to take deals like this because they’re afraid they can’t live up to the commitment.
Authenticity. Though we have yet to see a promotion for a game explicitly request or require a streamer to be positive about the game, streamers worry that their audiences will view them as sellouts.
Respect. While companies are starting to understand the tremendous impact that success on Twitch represents for their games, they struggle to understand that, within their communities, livestreamers are every bit as famous as any celebrity.
Creativity. Anyone can stream a game or put a sponsor’s logo on their page. What are you going to do to make it memorable? Why is your channel worth providing sponsorship support to, while thousands of others are not?
Flexibility. Sponsored streaming (whether through direct sponsorship or in-kind payment via product keys) is often the tip of the sword for marketing. They want it to start as soon as the game is ready. Of course, games often have hiccups, server issues or bugs in the first few hours or days of a launch. Companies are thrilled to know that you’re able to adjust to these bumps in the road.
Passion. While a lot of streamers could successfully promote a product or a game, companies are looking for people who know their products and have a history with them. They’re nervous that a streamer may tear into their product or game – so someone who has liked previous iterations is more likely to receive it well.
Professionalism. It may sound silly, but answering emails in a timely manner, getting paperwork signed quickly and even sending a follow-up or thank you can mean the world to a publisher who is trying to wrangle fifty streamers all at once.
As we move into year 2 as a company, we’re setting our objectives as a team. We’ve had a great first year – and 2016 is already beating my expectations, in terms of excellent partners we’re working with and amazing new talent that we’re representing. As we continue to grow this year, I hope we can continue educating the industry, preventing the exploitation of talent, multiplying the number of opportunities and helping to define this business more precisely.
It’s an exciting time – and I can’t wait to see what happens next!