In The News: Mixer, Ninja & Brands

I recently provided commentary to AdAge tied to Mixer’s recent exclusive deal with eSports celebrity Ninja. Below is my full commentary tied to how Mixer differs from Twitch, how Mixer is positioning itself with brands, why Mixer is investing in Ninja,

Here is my full commentary RE: Mixer & Ninja’s Move.

ADAGE – WHAT DOES MIXER DO BETTER THAN TWITCH?

TOM: I have personally been streaming via Mixer (TheBlackFin) much longer than Twitch. I actually preferred Mixer over Twitch as I was primarily an Xbox console gamer and the close integration with the Xbox interface was a great way to quickly and easily stream. You also get USB camera support with Mixer vs Twitch on Xbox. 

One of my personal favorite features that Twitch actually just recently rolled out only to Twitch partners is co-streaming. This allows up to four players to stream to a single location. So if you are running a full squad in a first-person shooter you can let your viewers see each player’s POV.

The other feature that I really like is Mixer focuses on time and interactivity vs. just currency to support streamers. Interactivity between streamer and audience is key, allowing your viewers to help direct key decisions.

Mixer’s recent platform update introduced a number of key elements to support time on platform that converts to support for streamers vs. using direct cash so the motivation to naturally engage longer on the platform is a key point of difference. Basically, the cost to the user is less about spending dollars but dedicating your time to show support.

With Mixer, they allow streamers to offer special controls to their viewers, like use X weapon against the boss and allow them to vote. This has been one of Mixer’s biggest points of difference from day one. 

RE: Money, Twitch has badges, emotes, and you can have ad-free streams by subscribing to a streamer as well as subscriber-only mode but all of this is directly tied to cash. You are essentially buying accessibility. With Mixer its more about time. The platform rewards viewers for spending time on the platform. Viewers earn all types of virtual rewards just for watching including the key currency Sparks, which allows you to have interactivity with streams. 

Mixer does now have a premium currency similar to Twitch that allows users to support streamers called Embers, but it’s not required for interactivity whereas with Twitch its pay to play. 

ADAGE – HOW IS MIXER POSITIONING ITSELF WITH BRANDS?

TOM: Mixer brings in around 20 million visitors every month and these are key demographics that brands want to connect with but the ability for a brand to partner directly with Mixer to drive a connection, create a co-branded experience and advertise directly through Mixer is not a viable option at the moment. It looks like Mixer is taking steps to drive more active engagement through the platform and as the audience continues to grow and engage it will eventually open up more direct opportunities for brands directly.

Without an advertising model across Mixer it’s more about the individual relationships with streamers and brands directly, similar to Ninja’s Red Bull sponsorship and product placement in his streams.

Mixer is not directly positioning with brands yet. They are solely focused on growing the community and providing authentic invaluable content for consumers. Ad revenue and the structure around it is future state.

ADAGE – WHAT IS THE AD BUYING PROCESS LIKE? 

TOM: No ad buying process on Mixer, brands have to take an “influencer” style approach to reaching audiences on Mixer, that’s through the individual streamers vs. through the platform.

ADAGE – EARLY DAYS, WHAT ARE YOU SEEING/HEARING IN TERMS OF PRICE VS. PERFORMANCE WHEN BUYING ON MIXER?  

TOM: No price vs. performance as of yet, but moving forward I would keep a close eye on how Mixer evolves the platform as the shifts and changes they are making are setting up for engagement as a core KPI. Also, all of the positioning and having Mixer in the center of how gaming will evolve with cloud-based services, xCloud, Scarlett (Next Box) and cloud services, Mixer might be an upstart compared to Twitch and YouTube, but they are sitting in a great position on the coming horizon and bringing Ninja over is a good commitment to kick-starting their move towards taking share.

ADAGE: WHY IS MIXER INVESTING IN NINJA?

TOM: Ninja made a lot of sense, not because he is the “best” gamer today as he is not at the top of current players, but his name recognition, ESPN cover athlete and recognition is key to drive buzz around the exclusivity and impact of the deal. Ninja has primarily been a PC player, so for Ninja this makes sense as it pulls in a different audience segment as Mixer has primarily been a Microsoft/Xbox streaming service so it drives more direct connection with console gamers.

Also, Microsoft is focused on blurring the lines of gaming moving forwards between PC and Console players. With xCloud, Xbox Game Pass that opens up cloud-based libraries of games for both PC & Console, it makes a lot of sense to begin to build towards positioning with exclusivity with Ninja.

ADAGE – IS THERE ANYTHING ELSE YOU WOULD LIKE TO SHARE?

TOM: All of the positioning and having Mixer in the center of how gaming will evolve with cloud-based services, xCloud, Scarlett (Next XBox) and cloud services, Mixer might be an upstart compared to Twitch and YouTube, but they are sitting in a great position on the coming horizon and bringing Ninja over is a good commitment to kick-starting their move towards taking share.

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