Twitch stats show that the platform is fast becoming a destination for watching live sports, and a partnership with the Olympics is another step in this direction. At the same time, a handful of streamers have been hit with live DMCA’s, often for showing sporting events.
Twitch first started taking seriously the opportunities of sports broadcasting in July 2020, when they launched the new Sports category and official channel.
At that time, the Amazon-owned platform partnered with sporting companies including Arsenal, the NBA, and UFC.
Also, as Amazon acquired rights to show Premier League matches, some of them were even streamed for free on Twitch, including matches with Everton, Sheffield United, Crystal Palace and Newcastle.
Twitch Sports growing fast
Data from Rainmaker.gg, StreamElements’ analytics partner, shows that the sports category on Twitch crossed 10 million hours watched for the first time in April 2021. This is a near-50% increase compared to February.
“Twitch has been dabbling in sports since 2017, but in July of last year they introduced TwitchSports with a renewed focus on the scene,” said Doron Nir, founder of livestreaming tools and services provider StreamElements. “The Sports category on Twitch has experienced substantial growth over the last 10 months, starting with a little over one million hours watched and now boasting over ten million.
“With the announcement of their partnership with the Olympics and their new Sports Accelerator Program that will drive more creators into the category with monetary incentives, it’s clear sports are a big part of the platform’s future.”
NBC is bringing action from the Tokyo Olympic Games to Twitch, setting up a dedicated channel, and Twitch itself will create content for the event, as well as interactive elements on the streams.
Live DMCA bans on Twitch
Streamer Zach Bussey has claimed that there has been a notable increase in the number of ‘live’ DMCA takedowns on Twitch.
Any platform that hosts content is required to comply with DMCA notifications, and takedown copyrighted content when a claim is received by the rights holder.
On May 8, streamer Okharry was banned after showing what he claims was “under a second” of the Premier League match between Manchester City and Chelsea.
On May 1, Turkish streamer Tuna Yurdakul was similarly banned, for 48 hours, for showing a match in the Premier League.
In 2018, the Logan Paul vs KSI boxing match was restreamed on multiple channels on Twitch, and Twitch staff were even spotted in the viewer list.
In June 2020, Twitch stated that they had received an “influx of DMCA takedown requests”, primarily for music played on stream and captured in clips.
📢 This week, we've had a sudden influx of DMCA takedown requests for clips with background music from 2017-19. If you’re unsure about rights to audio in past streams, we advise removing those clips. We know many of you have large archives, and we're working to make this easier.
— Twitch Support (@TwitchSupport) June 8, 2020
This led to streamers having to wipe their channels of clips to avoid the potential of a DMCA strike risking a suspension from the platform.