Livestream button mashing now on YouTube

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The National Football League –America’s most popular sport– loves to tout its $10 billion revenue value. Between dominant TV ratings and local teams stoking the flames of fandom the NFL has nearly a perpetual motion of cash creation. $10 billion is impressive, but interestingly enough it’s puny in comparison to the king of American entertainment, videogame playing. Companies like Nintendo, Microsoft, Sony, EA, Rovio, and Sega politely smile and let out a chuckle when they click by a football game on TV, because while millions of raving football lunatics are generating $10 billion for the NFL, billions of videogame playing zombies are shoveling $21 billion in U.S. revenue and nearly $100 billion worldwide.

When you really start to think about how football obsessed our culture is, it’s preposterous to think that button mashing gamers in basements across the nation are fueling the economy more than football loving meatheads crammed into our nation's stadiums. Even on a macro economics scale gaming wins out given that both groups support the hospitality industry and restaurant industrial complex. In the end the real economic factor is many NFL fans are also gamers, but the opposite isn’t necessarily true, and this overlap has established a crushing amount of gaming profits.

Another win for the gaming crowd is it's unquestionable seat at the tech industry table. Since Pong was first unveiled in the 70s, gaming has embraced technology and pushed it to exceedingly remarkable achievements. From gaming consoles, to mobile gaming units, to touch screen smart devices, to massive online multiplayer games gaming has been a part of or the instigator of many technological innovations. Still there have been some cases where gaming had to impatiently wait for technology to evolve to the pace of play.

Streaming media has been the biggest bat in the tech game for sometime now. Whether it's movies, TV, music, or videogames every major player has wanted a piece of the streaming action. The problem for gaming is the bandwidth required to display such bandwidth heavy graphics and action has required data delivery speeds that simply were reliable until the last five years or so. Sure players have been gaming online for well over a decade, but the cost to connect for higher data speeds has never been lower than it is today. So with the final pieces in place the tech giants have finally started jumping into the pool, and the most recent, and monstrous splash has come from Alphabet (formerly Google).

Last Month Alphabet’s YouTube made a major gaming play unveiling, a drastically redesigned corner of the sites functionality fashioned specifically for gaming fans, players, and live-streamers. YouTube Gaming is an intersection of gameplay and game culture, where anyone with a videogame and fast web connection can share their gaming activity as it happens, for free. In 2014, YouTube nearly acquired Twitch, the most-respected and trafficked live gameplay streaming site. While the move seemed to make sense on paper –biggest streaming outlet combining forces with most trendy game streaming service– ultimately YouTube didn’t need Twitch. Even with 15.3 million unique gaming users a month, YouTube has 193 million unique users each month. All YouTube really needed to do was beef up it's livestreaming capabilities, market it smartly, and it would almost certainly be considered a serious option for gamers look to stream their play online.

Quality versus quantity is the real debate in football versus videogame viewing. YouTube is a few short months away from being bumrushed with thousands of hours of videogame livestreams. Even with two gamers for every jock in the US, I can think of few things more tedious than watching 10 minutes of someone playing Assassin’s Creed versus 10 minutes of football timeouts.

Patrick Boberg is a central Iowa creative media specialist. For more tech insights, follow him on Twitter @PatBoBomb


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