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Sports teams look to Twitch as the next opportunity for growth


So far this month (December) we’ve seen two major Italian teams announce the next stage in their efforts to connect with younger fans by launching on the hugely popular streaming platform, Twitch. Both Juventus and AC Milan are taking steps forward in their digitalization plans and are expanding their ability to engage with fans around the world. With 2 million people interacting any one moment in time and an average of 26 million daily viewers, Twitch is a platform of so-far untapped potential.

To announce their new presence, Juventus created “Pitch for Twitch” to find their new presenter.

Whilst Milan’s announcement of the channel came via their streamer “Lollo”.

Marketing and Digital Director AC Milan said:

“The launch of AC Milan’s official channel on Twitch is another important brand-new step in the Club’s digitization process: we aim to connect, bring together and thrill the more than 450 million Rossoneri fans all over the world. We are convinced that this is the right path to make AC Milan both a sports icon and a benchmark in entertainment and digital innovation.”

Lamberto Siega

Vice President of Twitch Partnerships EMEA stated:

“Twitch is a community of superfans who gather every day to participate in and interact with their entertainment. Our community is AC Milan’s community and this channel makes the most of everything Twitch has to offer.”

Pontus Eskilsson

Twitch as the new TV

In July 2020, Twitch announced that sports will become a new vertical on the platform. Meaning that it will be a non-gaming-oriented streaming section, a significant move away from where it has seen it’s success so far.

As an Amazon-owned company, the aim is to create a dedicated sports content channel that will be able to be competitive with traditional TV. Spain’s LaLiga was the first major European league to launch an official account, in addition to first-mover teams including Real Madrid, PSG, Arsenal and, as we have already mentioned, Juventus and AC Milan.

Jane Weedon, director of new vertical at Twitch said:

The sports community on Twitch is home to some of the most passionate, die-hard fans you will find.

The category as a whole has been growing over the last couple of years, and it’s been incredible to see the response from fans and leagues as they’ve discovered how Twitch allows them to engage and interact with each other—even if they are physically on the other side of the world. This new category and focus on sports programming will give fans exclusive access to their favourite teams and athletes as they make their return to courts and fields.

The reason why we are seeing this move is the drive to find younger audiences, with more than 70% of their audience is under 34, and because many of them are not present on social media when it comes to viewership. In recent times they have signed deals with NBA, UFC, House of Highlights plus they won the exclusively international broadcast rights for US’s National Women’s Soccer League. Signalling where they see the future of the platform to be.

Utilizing Twitch’s unique features

Twitch is making its first move into live sports, so we cannot put them in the same category as DAZN. They have good reasons for taking slow steps into this new vertical; Twitch has its own language and memes as it was born out of gaming and is very much about the community it has built up. So for sports to come in and expect it to work as with other platforms, whether they be social media or broadcast, would not only miss the point but also affect the reaction the community would have for it.

If done in the right way they can benefit on how users consume the content within Twitch. Sports teams and streamers can utilize specific features to increase engagement, with one of them being the chat function and the ability to tailor broadcast solutions to specific sports.

Another one is the Extension feature. It is a way to create interactive overlays that integrate real-time data to create multiple interactions touchpoints. A great example was with NBA G League in which viewers have the chance to vote for the MVP of the game, with that person then interviewed live.

Sports brands and right holders are not familiar with what Twitch can offer in terms of viewership experience and content yet. Once that happens, we can then speak about a platform that has a lot of huge potential, offering personalized content and increasing engagement.

For some great in-depth insights into the how and why’s of clubs getting involved in Twitch, and if it will be a success, this recent SportsPro OTT webinar with Arsenal, AC Milan and Marseille is a must-view.


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