I have a teenage son. He has an iPhone, an attitude and a few hairs under his arms. A few months ago I watched as he doubled up in laughter on the couch, iPhone in hand.
“What are you watching?” I asked.
“PewDiePie!” He screamed with laughter.
Worried that he was watching a hybrid of Disney and Anime porn I vaulted over to his lair and took a look. There was this young man; headphones on, playing a video game that looked like it had been created for the ZX Spectrum. He was making strange noises that seemed to come from the back of his throat.
“What a nob head.” I thought.
It’s not just my son that finds PewDiePie funny. As of February 2015 his YouTube channel had 34.8 million subscribers. According to Wikipedia, in 2014 it surpassed RihannaVEVO as the most viewed channel of all time.
How can anything in the world be more important than watching her?
While most of us are chained to the 9 to 5. This young Swedish superstar is swimming in shekels, and all he does is film himself playing video games whilst commentating on them.
Now who’s the nob head?
34.8 million viewers.
That’s a mass market right there.
And this is where poker comes into the equation.
The New Frontier of Online Gaming
Video gamers and poker players go together like cheese and pineapple on a cocktail stick. StarCraft legends like ElkY, and Counter Strike legends like Griffin Benger, two of the peeps who once viewed poker earnings as nothing more that video game points.
If millions of people tune in to watch a man called PewDiePie playing a video game, whilst swearing and talking shite, wouldn’t those same people find it interesting if the game was more competitive, you could win a ton of money, and become more intelligent at the same time?
Jason Somerville is giving it a go.
The creator of the Run It Up series has recently signed a deal with the live streaming video platform Twitch to host his new show. He has over 70,000 followers, his show peaked at 20,000 concurrent views the previous Sunday, and the average person stuck around for 56-minutes.
And I hear people sobbing into their cans of red bull that there is no sight of the next poker boom.
Jason Somerville is the man sitting atop of the white horse.
Finding the New Niche
So what is it about Somerville that’s so appealing?
Speaking to my teenage son, about the success criteria of a live streamer, he had this to say.
“They have to be funny, and they have to be active all of the time. The difference between a live streamer, and a TV show, is you don’t have to wait until the next week to watch the next episode. Streams are happening all of the time, videos are being posted on YouTube daily, and these guys are hilarious.”
Somerville announced his new partnership with PokerStars by launching a 70-day consecutive live stream schedule where he would be available for a minimum of four hours per day. His average time on the stream has been 7-7.5hrs. He is a man on a mission. During an interview with yours truly, at CalvinAyre, Somerville told me that work ethic is at the heart of his success.
“When I got this deal, I wasn’t cracking open the PokerStars piñata and running around eating all the candy. I knew it was the start of the hardest grind of work of my life.”
Twitch plucks out eyeballs like The Bride on Elle Driver. According to Barry Carter, on his blog pokermediapro.com, the site gets 100 million views a month, with 1.5 million gamers broadcasting their play.
Speaking at the Global Poker Index American Poker Awards, where they won an award for Best Innovation in Poker, Scott Ball, Poker partnerships Lead at Twitch said: “It was essential that our existing industry embraced poker as a game. Also the poker community embraced the platform. We thought we would give it a try and it’s worked out quicker than we would expected.”
He’s not kidding.
Somerville is leading the way, but there are a whole host of people already getting into his jet stream. Jaime “PokerStaples” Stapleton is the most interesting prospect after growing his platform organically, proving that just like PewDiePie anyone can be a success if they find the sweet spot of entertaining and consistent coverage.
The poker community is chocked full of entertainers. It’s also rammed to the rafters with grinders. People who spend their entire lives stuck in their bedrooms playing online poker. It’s a dream come true for everyone. The players lives get a little bit more interesting, the viewer gets constant interaction, and the online poker rooms get the greatest form of advertising in the past three decades.
If you think Somerville is a star now, you aint seen nothing yet. He could soon be one of the first professional poker player who earns millions of dollars per year playing in $5 home game with thousands of fans who look up to him as the ultimate boss.
And what a boss he is.