Columns Valerio Scalabrelli
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Twitch as a growing tool for futsal

In his debut column for FutsalFeed.com, Valerio Scalabrelli introduces himself with a fantastic article about why futsal clubs should use the famous streaming platform Twitch for the growth of futsal. As a futsal enthusiast with a degree in Digital Media - hear his words!

In this article, Valerio focuses on key elements that could be used to bring futsal much closer to the new, younger generations of fans. He also discusses how Twitch is used today in mainstream sports and explains why futsal enthusiasts everywhere should embrace this platform to enhance our sport's visibility.

Enjoy the read, we sure did!

How many changes did the year that will soon end bring? The coronavirus pandemic has completely disrupted our daily life. It came in without knocking on the door, catching us unprepared for its arrival and making room for new ways of working and communicating, putting us in a position to carry out any task in the safest way possible.

It seems that the era of digitization we are experiencing has accelerated its integration process in today's society thanks (alas) to the expansion of a virus that forced us to exploit the power of the web and internet connections to do anything, from working and ordering food to keep in touch with our friends and enjoying together moments of leisure and fun through our digital devices, such as watching a sports event.

Consequently, many platforms have welcomed a number of new users disproportionately high compared to the average they were used to. Among these platforms, there is Twitch.

Twitch as a growth tool for futsal

Twitch was initially launched as a video game streaming service, hosting popular gaming streamers and major e-sports tournaments. Recently, the company has decided to enter the sports industry by changing the way common events are watched, applying the interactive elements of an e-sports stream to broadcasts of competitions such as the NFL and NBA, thanks to which it is testing the ground through experimental partnerships.

Last year, this Amazon-owned company’s CEO Emmett Shear told Fortune magazine: “Twitch can democratize sports broadcasting: live streaming and chatting works for any event and genre. It all depends on how you prepare the content and how you allow fans to interact."

Probably the most interesting thing about Twitch, which is also useful for the promotion and growth of futsal, is its large young audience that is difficult to reach via other media, considering that there is 15 million DAU (daily average users), most of the men (81, 5%) and young adults (55% in the 18-34 range), with growing popularity among Zoomers, a generation of fans which ranges from 6 to 20 years old.

Twitch's audience, mainly interested in e-sports and new forms of non-mainstream and unconventional sports, loves to build active and engaging communities around popular streamers and channels, a trait that will transform the way we live sports, which events are shifting from a third-person experience most of the people has been used to watch at home to a first-person phenomenon that has a community deeply connected online where its members tie friendly relations and get to know each other in real life.

Twitch in mainstream sports

Interactive features play an important role: live chats and co-streaming services have been hugely successful in e-sports and now are taking over mainstream sports: NFL Thursday Night Football streams have allowed attendees to view graphic overlays with statistics and other information related to the game.

The difference with Facebook lies precisely in the simpler accessibility and usability, thanks to a graphic interface that transforms the streaming broadcast page into a small television screen (it is no coincidence that the site is indexed "twitch.tv"), placed between two columns which respectively show the live chat and a list of recommended channels, with no additional distractions.

Clearly, then, there are various different nodes to Twitch’s offering and, more specifically, what it can offer sports. Farhan Ahmed, Twitch’s strategic partnerships manager says that the company is still in an experimental phase: “With sports, it’s a very complex landscape. Rights are valued at quite a significantly high cost, so we do have to be careful with that. Twitch monetizes off the content that it brings to our service, so are we also going to be able to monetize in a way that’s sustainable for us to work on these deals?"

"Also, because the sport is fairly new [for Twitch] and it requires things like geo-blocking, for example, [there are] certain demands on our product which for gaming and user-generated content hasn’t necessarily been something that we’ve been required to do. We’re still understanding the demands of what’s needed to carry sports,” said Farhan Ahmed.

Excellent opportunity for futsal

Now, we all know the difficulty in making futsal a sport that is appreciated beyond any stereotype. Unfortunately, its visibility is really poor: streaming services of dubious quality; broadcasting rights claims that bore fans; continental tournaments that seem to have no digital windows; events and events never promoted as they deserve.

Twitch offers so many intriguing perspectives for sports, but if it is far from being a significant sports media platform for well-known disciplines, but for those sports with a smaller and less established fan base seems the most suitable medium.

Futsal, as already said a few lines above, is certainly one of those. This is why Twitch represents an excellent opportunity to bring our sport closer to a new generation of potential fans and enthusiasts. Their resourcefulness and desire to get involved will help to make it more popular than ever.

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Valerio Scalabrelli

Columnist

Valerio Scalabrelli

Columnist

Valerio has been a futsal player for 10 years, winning the Seria C2 in the process, and U18 futsal coach for 2 years. He graduated from Università di Perugia with an M.Sc. in Digital Media. Valerio will mostly write about proposals and ideas concerning the growth of futsal as a (standalone) sport in the era of digitalization and entertainment. As the most known Italian futsal content creator his topics will also be about the Italian futsal movement, focusing on both on-field and off-field topics.

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