15/11/2021 - ALEX REID
Netflix shares premiere of TV series Arcane with livestreaming site Twitch

The first instance of Netflix originals being streamed on Twitch

Riot Games, the developer and publisher of League of Legends, streamed the first episode of the TV series Arcane live on its channel on Twitch on 7th November; the same time as the release on Netflix. Twitch streamers were allowed to co-stream the episode so they could interact with their followers during the premiere, and were additionally able to stream the following two episodes, which were not shown on Riot Games’ own channel.

Arcane’s release followed shortly after the final of a global League of Legends esports tournament

Although it is unusual for Netflix content to be available on other platforms, it makes sense in this case for Netflix and Riot Games, both of which will be wanting to tap into the existing League of Legends esports viewer audience.

League of Legends is one of the most popular esports and Twitch-streamed titles. Ampere Games consumer research indicates that, as of Q2 2021 and across 12 global markets, 21% of gamers aged 13-64 are following League of Legends esports events. Twitch provided additional levels of participation and interest to viewers not possible on Netflix. As well as interacting with others on the site, viewers could receive in-game League of Legends items from watching the livestream, providing and engaging and rewarding experience. Ampere Games consumer research also shows that over 75% of 13-64-year-old esports viewers from the US have access to Netflix, so there is already a large audience to target.

The premiere of Arcane came hours after the conclusion of Riot Games' League of Legends World Championship, which was also streamed on its Twitch channel, capitalising on high engagement levels from the event. Established in 2011, this esports tournament had a multi-million dollar prize pool in 2021, with the final having over 4m viewers at its peak.

This sort of experimental promotional strategy illustrates Netflix’s willingness to innovate and its drive to better understand the game streaming audience and gamer tastes in general. Ampere research shows that Netflix is coming under increased competitive pressure in key younger demographics which overlap strongly with gaming. Aside from increased adaptations from the games space, Netflix is pursuing its own games strategy. 

(Note: If you would like to learn more about this, tune into our free webinar on Netflix’s games strategy on Wednesday 17th November, 4pm GMT. You can sign up here)

Whether Netflix and other producers will use this technique for future game adaptations depends upon the audience profile of the IP and its popularity across streaming platforms. Arcane’s premiere on Twitch could be an exploration by both Netflix and Riot Games into how these events are received, or it may be a one-off event due to the immense popularity of League of Legends. Given Netflix’s recent expansion into games through its existing subscriptions, utilising platforms popular with gamers is a great way to further engage the gamer audience.

This would not be the first time Netflix has explored using different platforms to target certain demographics. Its YouTube Futures channel targets a young audience, and now has over 3m subscribers. Through this platform, it shares content related to its original children’s TV shows and films, including occasional full episodes to help capture the audience.

Riot Games runs month-long event promoting the release of Arcane both in its games and in other popular titles

Throughout November, Riot Games has been leveraging its games as promotional platforms for Arcane, with an event called RiotX Arcane spanning across all of its titles. This has included posters in the virtual worlds, Arcane-themed cosmetic items, and new characters to play. Outside of its own titles, a character from League of Legends is available to purchase as a cosmetic item in Fortnite (coinciding with the release of Riot Games’ titles in the Epic Games Store), and Arcane-themed items will be in the next update of PUBG Mobile, a mobile Battle Royale game.

All of this will help to grow interest and awareness of the TV show among gamers, while Netflix viewers unfamiliar with League of Legends will be exposed to this IP and become potential future consumers of related products. This is not limited to just games, as Riot Games has a virtual K-pop music group based on League of Legends characters that releases music. In this way Riot Games is establishing its IP as a global multi-media franchise that spans games, esports events, music, and now TV.


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