Mar 28 2014 - 12:59 pm

Twitch to improve European streaming with data center in Paris

In a long-planned and promised effort to improve its service in Europe, video game streaming site Twitch announced today it has launched a new data center in Paris, France
Patrick Howell O'Neill
Dot Esports

In a long-planned and promised effort to improve its service in Europe, video game streaming site Twitch announced today it has launched a new data center in Paris, France.

The new "point of presence," as Twitch calls it, follows the addition of Prague servers in Dec. 2013 and four recent upgrades to Twitch server capacity around the world, including a 200 percent capacity upgrade to the company’s London servers.

The new Paris location brings Twitch’s European operation up to six bases of operation compared to North America’s seven.

“With a new point of presence in Paris, it’s definitely going to improve the Twitch experience for our friends in France,” Stuart Saw, Twitch's regional director for Europe, the Middle East, and Africa said in a press release.

“We are also laser-focused on rolling out similar infrastructure expansions and upgrades in other popular broadcasting hubs.”

With the move, Twitch puts itself in a good position to continue the stunning growth its seen over the past year. In 2013, the San Francisco-based more than doubled in size to the point where it’s now sucking up more peak traffic than the likes of Facebook and Hulu.

But lighting quick growth doesn’t come without big hiccups. Europeans have long complained about low-quality streams that lagged significantly. That's caused many frustrated users to turn to competitors like Azubu or YouTube. Some fans have even tried to program their own makeshift solutions.

And Twitch has been promising improved service for European users for quite some time.

In September 2013, venture capitalists invested $20 million in Series-C funding inot Twitch. The company promised a big chunk of that cash would be going toward fixing its European problem.

In a Reddit AMA held months earlier, Twitch founder and CEO Emmett Shear had addressed numerous complaints about the quality of European streams. “Yes, we’re expanding capacity in Europe," he promised one redditor. “Three new datacenters going up over the next 90 days. Stockholm, Prague, Paris. In that order.”

Stockholm came online last summer. It took until late December for Prague to come online. And now, Paris has finally arrived.

“We just switched to a new video delivery system that allows for more effective buffering," said Ben Goldhaber, Twitch's director of content marketing. "That makes all the data centers more efficient. We’re not perfect in Europe but what we’ve seen from a tech standpoint and statistics is good.”

Despite all the improvements and additions over the last year, Twitch users are still reporting an uneven experience in Europe. Will the Paris data center be enough to fix the problem?

The move comes as serious competition has suddenly emerged on the horizon. Azubu, a German-based streaming company spending a fortune on premium content delivery networks, received a $34.5 million investment this week., another European streaming company that previously shut down, recently announced its return. Meanwhile, YouTube, DailyMotion, and Hitbox continue to attract European users driven away from Twitch.

“It's ludicrously bad,” journalist Duncan Shields wrote just two months ago on Twitch's lag problems. “I have an OGN [OnGameNet] subscription [on Twitch], but if I watch live I end up watching via Dailymotion and only watch Twitch for the [videos on-demand]."

Twitch representatives say their fixes are helping. Europeans are now watching Twitch for longer periods, at higher bitrates, and with less buffers than ever before, Goldhaber said.

“There’s tons of work still to do but it’s pretty clear things are better now.”

Paris is the newest weapon in the company’s arsenal at a time when the war for live streaming is heating up. But even with well-financed competitors entering the fray, Twitch still boasts the lion’s share of viewers.

And as far as most Europeans are concerned, Twitch’s new servers are probably better late than never.

Photo by Doctor Popular

Today - 9:14 pm

ELEAGUE’s sponsorship pricing stays at $2 million for 2017

Turner Sports’ esports league sold marketing partnerships for $2 million each last year.
Thiemo Brautigam
Dot Esports
Photo via Turner Sports

ELEAGUE, Turner Sports’ ambitious televised esports experiment, is one of the most attractive destinations for big-name sponsors in esports. So it’s a little surprising that Turner is keeping sponsorship prices for ELEAGUE “about the same” as last year, as Seth Ladetsky, senior vice president of sales, recently told SportsBusiness Daily.

For season one and two of the CS:GO league, which started in May 2016, Turner secured six sponsors, each paying $2 million for an advertising package that included media exclusivity on the broadcasts with logo appearances, product placements, and other forms of sponsor integration.

For 2017, Turner hopes to renew the inaugural-year deals with Buffalo Wild Wings, Arby’s, Domino’s, Snickers, HyperX, and Credit Karma. It’s also looking for new advertisers from branches such as beverages, mortgage, insurance, and telecommunication.

The first new partner for 2017 is DELL, which will promote its Alienware gaming hardware in all ELEAGUE competitions throughout the year. On Jan. 20, Turner also revealed a naming rights deal with G Fuel for its Atlanta-based studio and arena.

Season one of Turner’s CS:GO ELEAGUE averaged about 250,000 TV viewers and, despite a slight increase in the Fall, the linear viewership was far from mind-blowing throughout the year. Apparently, some sponsors were unsatisfied with the ratings and received redress, Ladetsky told SBD.

Ladetsky, Turner’s senior vice president of sales, still believes that the launch year was a success. “We’re pretty happy with our overall audience as a whole,” he told SBD. “We do think the IP rights, the marks and rights, have increased in value, for sure, because it’s more established now. But in general, we’re still in a launch year.”

Turner’s ELEAGUE opened the esports market to more non-endemic brands. Beside the huge appeal of esports, many advertisers are still wary. A rapidly changing industry like esports can be risky territory.

“It’s very hard to do multiyear deals in this space because games change and schedules are so fluid,” Ladetsky explained.

Nonetheless, esports is among the most attractive industries for advertisers and sponsors in 2017. SK Gaming’s deal with VISA and Astralis’ partnership with Audi show the growing interest of big brands in esports.

Today - 9:12 pm

Heroic benches Friis, cadiaN to fill in

Friis was one of the founding members of the team.
Sam Nordmark
Writer at @dotesports
Photo via Fragbite

One of the strongest Counter-Strike: Global Offensive squads from Denmark is shaking things up.

Team Heroic AWPer and co-founder Michael "Friis" Jørgensen has been placed on the bench, the organization has revealed. Friis, who is listed as one of the co-owners of the organization, has played with the team since its inception in August 2016.

At the moment it's not exactly clear what prompted the team to bench the 27-year-old veteran (who will have been competing for close to ten years in 2017), especially considering the fact that Friis himself posted on social media about scrims at the beginning for the year. Additionally, the Danish squad placed 3rd-4th out of the eight teams that competed at DreamHack Leipzig on Jan. 13-15.

Shortly after being assembled, Heroic went on to place respectably at a number of international LAN tournaments. This included multiple top four finishes, as well as two victories at PowerLan and the 2016 International Gaming League grand finals.

Heroic said that the benching is temporary. The team will be fielding current Rogue AWPer Casper "cadiaN" Møller in its upcoming tournament matches. CadiaN is no stranger to the majority of Heroic's roster, having competed with them in SK Gaming's previous CS:GO roster between late 2015 and early 2016.

While the move does seem dramatic, it's not all too surprising. Given the fact that the ELEAGUE Major will be concluding on Jan. 29, plenty of teams will be looking to shuffle their rosters. We'll likely be seeing a lot more player movement in a week's time.