Twitch’s new interactive football series is the kind of programing that sets video-heavy social platforms apart from traditional TV
Over the past several years, video has become King for many social platforms. Facebook launched Watch, its dedicated tab for original video content; Twitch launched “Always On,” its version of linear broadcast channels; Snapchat launched Discover, which houses short, mobile-first content from digital publishers; and Twitter has partnered with companies like Bloomberg Media to launch 24/7 channels on its platform. But as the line between traditional television and online programming blur, there is one characteristic that separates the two: interactive content. With social platforms like Facebook Watch, viewers can interact with the content in real time, which presents a unique opportunity for these companies to incorporate the audience in the show. Something that has proved well for Facebook, according to Facebook’s Head of Global Creative Strategy Ricky Van Veen, who pointed to the format as an example of success on the platform.
Also capitalizing on this fairly fresh opportunity is Twitch. The gamer-focused social platform, which has always allowed fans to interact with content creators through chat, is taking it one step further with a new Football show that allows fans to call the shots from behind their screens. The Amazon-owned company has partnered with the Fan Controlled Football League (FCFL), a new professional football league that enables fans to call the plays in real-time. Under the multi-year deal, which covers the 2019 & 2020 season, all FCFL games will be live-streamed on Twitch. The FCFL has also teamed up with IMG Original Content who will be supporting the league with their expertise in sports and entertainment.
Via a custom Twitch Extension, which is a Twitch-exclusive feature used to create interactive video overlays for viewers on desktop and in the FCFL app, fans will call all of the plays in real time for the 8 teams in the new league. The outcome of each fan vote will be relayed to the quarterback and executed on the field.
“Interactivity is a big part of where we see live content heading as evidenced by our focus on our Extensions tool which turns spectators on Twitch into active participants,” Twitch’s Sports Lead of Content Acquisition Eric Brunner, told Videoink. “As for whether or not fan-controlled sports will eclipse other types of programming, it is too soon to tell since this is the first major sport to double down on it, but we are excited to see how this innovation plays out.”
This isn’t the first interactive series to launch on the platform. In November, KnokX Pro Entertainment LLC, a full service professional wrestling academy, launched a similar series — “LIVE INTERACTIVE WRESTLING” — that allows fans to be in charge of the action played out in the wrestling ring.
“Twitch is the ideal service to marry a digital viewing experience with an interactive voting, sharing, and discussion mechanism,” said Sohrob Farudi, Chief Executive Officer of the FCFL. “The FCFL is the first real-life video game and digitally-native sports league that thrives on fan interaction with players, coaches and other fans, and interaction with the games being played on the field. There is no better service to host the world’s first fan-controlled sports league than
Twitch, and we couldn’t ask for a better production partner than IMG.”
As part of the deal, the FCFL will feature seven-on- seven competition on a 50-yard field, creating a fast-paced, open style of play conducive to an action-packed sixty minutes of football. A $1,000,000+ prize purse will be shared between the players, coaches, and fans of the championship team.