The Interview - Sara Pastor (Sales Director Spain at Twitch)
It was a great opportunity for SPSG Consulting to interview Sara Pastor, Sales Director Spain at Twitch, and be able to discuss future trends, geographical differences in consumption, as well as the evolution of various factors concerning the sports sector.
The paradigm of how to get access to sporting audiovisual content is evolving very rapidly: the decrease of the weight of linear TV, the increasing importance of PPV, OTT-SVOD, social platforms, influencers, etc... And TWITCH is playing a pivotal role in the ecosystem. What are the main trends that you can foresee for the coming five years?
Sports don’t exist outside of the changes we’re seeing in other forms of culture and entertainment. Millennial and Gen Z audiences are digitally native, meaning they don’t consume content in the same way that their parents and grandparents did. As much as 39% of our audience is not reachable via traditional TV for example. These audiences expect more from their content. For them, it is about expressing their passions through content that they can shape, participate in and connect with others through.
Sport is certainly one of these content areas in the midst of a community-oriented evolution. On Twitch, sports can take on a unique dimension that replicates some of the magic of being part of a crowd. We would also expect to see the continued evolution and success of a new generation of sportscasters and entertainers who provide an appealing second screen experience for their audiences.
When it comes to the consumption of the content, and not only because of younger generations, it looks like there is also a significant and robust switch: the span of attention decreases so should the duration of games / matches, audience prefer to check several screens (or sections of a single screen) at the same time, audience prefer to interact rather than just being a “passive” viewer, etc. What are the main trends, according to your understanding, in regards to the content and how it is consumed by the audience?
It’s clear that audiences don’t want to wait until half time to check other match scores or contextual data. Fans clearly want more information as they tune-in and they want to share the moment with one another, anticipating what might happen next.
We think Twitch has the ability to create sports experiences that are second only to attending live—and in a way even better, with voting and interactive stats, as well as exchanging comments on the chat with the streamer and the community.
As one example of this, Thursday Night Football (NFL) has been available on Twitch in recent years through our partnership with Prime Video, on the NFL channel and via a series of Twitch co-streamers’ channels. Every year we build on the viewing experience adding new on-stream stats, gaming and social features designed to inform and entertain the Twitch community. This year, La Liga has also returned to Twitch, with Athletic Club and RCD Mallorca as the first game through the official Twitch channels of Gol, LaLiga and the beloved Spanish Twitch streamer Ibai Llanos.
You have recently been appointed as Sales Director at Twitch in Spain, after an impressive professional career in Spain, UK and the USA, mainly. What are the main differences when it comes to the consumption of audiovisual content between the USA and southern Europe?
The Twitch community in Spain is truly remarkable - several of the most popular streamers in the world are Spanish. Ibai recently obtained an exclusive interview with Lionel Messi on his move from FC Barcelona to PSG. In January, another Spanish streamer, TheGrefg, broke our world record for concurrent viewership with 2.5m people tuning in live to watch his Fortnite skin reveal. So you can see that Spain is really at the forefront of the shift towards more social, community driven audiovisual content which Twitch has pioneered.
Broadly speaking, I would say that differences in consumption patterns are more generational than nationally specific. Whether in the USA, UK or Spain, watching the match in sports clubs or sports bars has always been popular for older generations of sports fans because people enjoy feeling part of a community and sharing the moment together. This remains true today and Gen Z and Millennial audiences are keen to use technology to access that same feeling of connection. Younger audiences are turning away from passive viewing experiences and seek bi-directional ways of communicating and opportunities to share live moments with a community. They prize novelty, humour and expertise. This is why we say that our audience comes to Twitch for entertainment, and stays for the community.
You have terrific experience in the digital side of the business, especially in the entertainment and leisure industries. Now, at TWITCH, you are also incorporating the sports industry into the equation. To what extent platforms such as Twitch (owned by Amazon) are contributing to the evolution of the “sportainment” concept from a business perspective?
Sports content is becoming more human, more social and more engaging off the pitch. In many ways the audience needs driving this emerging dynamic won’t be all that surprising, fans of any sport have always enjoyed engaging in speculation and analysis among friends. What’s changing is who gets to build a following as a commentator.
On Twitch, we’re seeing a few trends which amount to the birth of a new generation of sportscasters building on and beyond the formats developed by traditional linear broadcasting. It’s striking how diverse the sports community on Twitch is: everyone from active global stars like F1 driver Lando Norris and soccer player Gerard Piqué and sports legends like Christian Vieri to multi-talented content creators such as Ibai and TrueGeordie. These talented creators have pioneered new, more social programme formats covering everything from the most detailed match and transfer analysis to chat shows and esports tournaments based on Fifa and driving games. We’re incredibly proud of the creativity of this new generation of sportscasters!
The Twitch community is drawn to unmissable experiences and these can be produced by our streamers themselves, or by sports organisations and brands. By partnering with our in-house Brand Partnerships Studio, brands are not just merely airing ads on Twitch, they are able to create unmissable, interactive experiences that drive deeper brand engagement. Twitch exists to empower creativity and community and we’re deeply excited to see the evolution of sports happening on our service.
Sports practiced by women are increasingly more important. Recently, the Spanish Women Football League has taken a step forward in terms of the professionalization of the structure and organization, and other leagues in other sports will follow. How do you see the evolution of sports competitions / leagues / events practiced by women within the next few years?
Progress can feel slow but there are real signs of long overdue optimism in women’s sport. For too long women’s sports have been hard for fans to follow without attending in person and, the bar to entry for
broadcast distribution has been too high and costly. Twitch aims to provide a solution for this by democratizing access to content allowing more niche sports to find and engage a truly global audience. For example, we have seen strong engagement for live content from the WNBA and NWHL. This brings sports fans further into the action as they can connect directly with their favourite teams and players, as well as with other fans across the world.