Twitch launches an esports directory to cater to growing streaming audience

Sarah Perez

Twitch is doubling down on esports in this new era of social distancing as a number of traditional sporting events have been cancelled. The company this week introduced a new esports directory on its site that will make it easier for viewers to find live matches, information on players, games with active competition leagues, a directory of players and more.

The goal, Twitch says, is on making Twitch easier to navigate with regard to this sort of gaming content -- particularly at a time when its site is seeing a surge of growth due to the COVID-19 lockdown. According to a recent report from Streamlabs, the pandemic has since pushed Twitch to reach all-time highs for hours watched, hours streamed and average concurrent viewership in the first quarter of 2020.

Notably, it surpassed 3 billion hours watched for the first time -- a significant milestone.

The new esports directory will help Twitch centralize its content in an easy-to-find and easy-to-navigate section on its site.

At the top, users can click on favorite games to see matching content. Below, current live matches are featured, followed by replays and highlights further down.

Viewers will also be shown a players directory at the bottom of the page that lets you see who's currently live.

Twitch says the directory will be populated with competitive and premier esports around the world, including ESL Katowice, Rocket League Championships Series, Twitch Rivals and the League of Legends World Championship, among others. Over time, Twitch plans to add more events, channels and pros to keep the content fresh.

In addition, users browsing the dedicated section will be recommended content based on their own viewing history, increasing the chance that they'll find an esports stream they'll want to watch.

However, the site is also organized for discovery, as a click on the "All Games" option lets you easily see a variety of games and recaps being offered through the site.

Twitch says the directory launched on Wednesday but is rolling out over the "coming days" -- meaning, if you don't have it just yet, check back in a bit. (The dedicated URL for the new directory is twitch.tv/directory/esports if you want to visit directly.)

Though more people are going online for gaming entertainment due to the coronavirus outbreak, the esports market overall will take a slight hit from the pandemic in the near-term.

According to Newzoo, the global esports market will generate revenues of $1,059.3 million in 2020, down from its previous estimate of $1,100.1 million. This is mainly due to coronavirus-related cancellations and postponements of live events. Twitch's new directory is an attempt to get ahead of the trend that will see many esports events shifted to digital-only formats.

This shift will actually lead to higher streaming revenues in the future, as global quarantines send more users online and encourage new entrants to join the market. As a result, Newzoo's forecast for team streaming revenues increased from $18.2 million to $19.9 million in 2020, and $31.6 million to $34.4 million in 2023.