Thursday, January 22, 2015

What People Watch

For the last week or so I've been putting a lot of thought into what people actually want to watch. I had a couple 'random' people show up to watch me stream Binding of Isaac. I'm not very good at that game. I like playing it, and I win some of the time, but I'm nowhere near as good as the people I've seen who are doing speed runs or no reset hard mode Eden streaks. One of the guys I watch can recite the exact stats of every item when he picks it up! I struggle to remember approximately what most of the things do. I wouldn't want to watch me play Isaac, not compared to some of the other options that are out there. Yet one of those random people came back on a later day looking for more.

Recently I had an article linked to me about YouTube revenue stats. The top earner last year brought in almost 5 million dollars just from ad revenue. She has 3.5 million subscribers and her videos have almost 4.8 BILLION views. What does she do in these videos? Open Disney branded children's toys. The description sounded pretty banal to me so I went and watched one of them. It really was just a set of hands working to pull a toy set out of the packaging. The commentary assumed a certain level of familiarity with Disney movies and toys but seemed to do a good job of explaining the bits. She even made some extra dresses for some of the dolls out of Play-Doh.

I don't get it. But then I realized that in order to watch that video I had to mute a stream I was watching of some guy who was good but not great at HearthStone. I'm sure a lot of the people interested in watching dolls get taken out of the packaging wouldn't find an online CCG to be terribly compelling. And probably a fair number of the people who watch The Bachelor or Monday Night Football wouldn't understand what the doll packaging people or the Hearthstone people find compelling about their chosen content either. Heck, my mother watches people make stuff with looms!

This isn't to say that the people who like watching Disney toys get unboxed are bad in any way. It's just that I personally don't understand the appeal of it. I never in a million years would have thought to tape myself opening boxes and then make millions of dollars each year. Now there's absolutely a ton of other work that went into this particular lady's success I'm sure. Marketing and production values and having a consistent brand image and a ton of work setting stuff up. For that matter I don't understand how someone can just play Final Fantasy games and get paid a reasonable amount of cash but that's exactly what the two guys in the Final Fantasy Month did. In that case they've actually been averaging more than 10 hours a day every single day for almost 2 months now... So if they make 6k doing it that's a fine thing. Not millions, but also not needing to eat just noodles every day. But even then... I was watching these guys play but I still didn't pay them any money. I didn't watch any ads. I'm not sure what they could do to have me want to throw some money their way. But plenty of other people did!

I guess what I'm trying to say is I don't understand people at all. I have a hard enough time trying to understand why I want to watch the things I want to watch. Trying to figure out what other people will watch is an unfathomable mystery...

I've been told a couple times now that I could probably get a reasonably popular stream going if I worked at it. What would need to be worked on is certainly a matter of debate though. Do I need to be willing to talk to most of the people in chat? Some of them? Any of them at all? Would I need to be a jerk? My brother seemed to think that getting up to legend status in Hearthstone would bring in lots of people. Keeping them would be a different matter, but at least that would be an initial hook.

But if I don't know what other people want to watch then how would I actually make a plan to broadcast something they want? Copy someone else's model maybe? Try a whole bunch of things and hope something randomly sticks? Just do stuff I'd want to see? But even if I could figure out what I personally wanted there's no reason to assume many other people would want the same thing. And even if they did... Someone who thinks like me isn't going to be generating any revenue for anyone anyway.

I don't have any solutions here, but I'm going to keep running things over in my head as I watch other people. Hopefully just going through the process of typing things out will have put some of these ideas in a better order for my brain to sort out while I sleep.

1 comment:

Sthenno said...

I've look at a lot of streams for different games and I'm pretty sure the number one thing that makes streamers popular is streaming a lot. Basically, you get viewers when people randomly watch you, and if you are streaming again the next time they are looking for something to randomly watch, there's a decent chance they'll come back. Do that a few times and they'll actually look for you. Having a posted schedule is probably huge.

Certainly one of the biggest factors is which game you are playing, but I'm not sure that means that the popular games are the best bets. They may be saturated markets. For LoL there is *always* a world-class pro streaming, for Hearthstone there are several of the "best" players streaming for 6-8 hours a day.

To make it into a real thing you definitely need to pander, I think, but I think the biggest part of that is to work on a brand. If you practiced up at hearthstone I think you'd have a good place there because I don't think anyone is taking a really analytic approach to the game.

I definitely don't think you have to be mean, and I think being mean is very overrated. Some people like to see the streamer rage, but I think to sell that you have to be an actual idiot/asshole who really, really rages.