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Episode 29: Trump’s Tencent Ban, League of Legends, and American capitalism reckoning with china

Imad Khan August 11, 2020 16


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The differing philosophies between the Chinese Communist Party and America were going to butt heads eventually. Who would have guessed that League of Legends would be caught in the scuffle.

Last week President Trump announced via executive order that ByteDance’s WeChat and Tencent’s TikTok would be facing the ban hammer in 45 days. The exact text was regarding transactions with entities owned by these companies. Of course, that included Riot Games, which is wholly owned by Tencent.

This caused panic within the gaming and esports community, but the White House specified later with the LA Times that video games would be excluded. Even then, the situation regarding Chinese companies entering the US will only continue to get more complicated. US intelligence believes that Chinese owned apps would give the CCP access to American user data. Why is that bad? Well, much like how Russia was able to stoke the angers of Americans during the 2016 presidential election by targeting certain users, so could China with that information.

Will Hershey from Roundhill Investments comes on the show to talk about Tencent and China, and how America has the upper hand in this fight. He also goes over the Huya and Douyu streaming deals, and how far ahead the Chinese streaming market is when compared to the US.

Then reporter Joseph Franco gives his analysis on the continued exodus of Overwatch players to Valorant. Last week saw Andrej “babybay” Francisty and Shane “Rawkus” Flaherty join FaZe Clan’s new Valorant team. Already, Corey “Corey” Nigra and Jay “Sinatraa” Won had left the league to pursue Valorant. With Overwatch 2 currently in development, Activision Blizzard will need to do something different to reinvigorate interest in the game.

Transcript:

SPEAKERS: Joseph Franco, Imad Khan, Will Hershey

Imad Khan  00:03

What’s up everybody? This is FTW with Imad Khan. I’m your host Imad Khan nd joining me today is will Hershey of Roundhill Investments.

Will Hershey  00:09

Thanks for having me.

Imad Khan  00:10

And later on we’ll have reporter Joseph Franco discuss the continuing exodus of Overwatch players to Valorant and we’ll be introducing our new segment Fan of the Week. But first Tencent. President Trump signed an executive order on August 6th banning transactions with two Chinese companies for 45 days. One is with Bytedance. The owners of the app TickTock and the other is with Tencent holdings which owns Riot Games, publisher of League of Legends, Valorant, Teamfight Tactics, Wild Rift, and Legends of Runeterra. Tencent also has major stakes in Supercell, the Finnish developer behind Clash of Clans Clash Royale and Brawl Stars, and we can’t forget about Epic Games published as a Fortnite, which Tencent has a minority stake in. The White House alleges that WeChat “automatically captures vast swaths of information from its users” and, “threatens to allow the Chinese Communist Party access to Americans personal and proprietary information.” White House officials have told The LA Times however, that video game companies owned by Tencent will not be affected by the executive order. So Will gaming and esports fans safe at the moment? Or is there still cause for concern?

Will Hershey  01:13

Yeah, I mean, I think I think for the moment we’re safe. If you look at the text of the respective executive orders, my read on it right out the gate and it sounds like the LA Times is kind of confirming this is when it comes to ByteDance, which is TikTok, is kind of any business with that company or its subsidiaries, the entire entity is going to be potentially in trouble or at risk here. With regards to Tencent, it kind of seems as though really they’re targeting WeChat in particular, which would mean that, really the gaming properties, including the ones that you mentioned, are probably not at risk for now. And I think really what this speaks to, is something that maybe is becoming a recurring theme is with this administration is really not considering all the consequences of when you put out an executive order like this what it could mean. But I think based on what we’re hearing right now, the intentions are not to affect the gaming properties, although there’s certainly data involved with playing video games as well. Maybe it’s not to the same degree as it is using a messaging service. But there’s certainly data that are being collected by by gaming companies, including those that Tencent owns a majority stake in but then again, I mean, look at look at, you know, what Tencent also holds. I mean, they own a 5% of Activision Blizzard to what they own piece of discord. They also own, not that small but meaningful stakes and Uber and Tesla. So there’s like a lot of different moving parts here. I think, really, they’re just trying to go after WeChat. At least, that’s my hope.

Imad Khan  02:43

There’s a lot of conversation about whether the President even has the authority to do this executive order. And the President does seem even since the beginning of his administration has been using executive orders because it’s like the only unilateral thing he can do and doesn’t have to go through Congress. So there’s definitely a bit of discussion on essentially how far he can get away with this. And of course, the Chinese government is upset with this entire thing because they claimed that this is a bid to essentially force a sale of TikTok to an American company, ie, there, there’s kind of a deadline for Microsoft, which is has been in talks to buy TikTok, to essentially close the deal. And since the presidency is pushing this deal and putting it on a deadline, it might actually force TikTok’s hand to like sell at a lower price because you know, it’s either you sell to us or you’re out as somebody in the investment world. This is kind of bizarre, isn’t it?

Will Hershey  03:37

It’s definitely bizarre and I’ve had the same kind of thoughts go through my mind effectively. Now, what you have in tik tok is one of the most prized assets in all of technology, definitely within social media that now if in fact, this is going to happen, they almost become from something everyone wants a piece of to kind of almost distressed where you’re exactly right. Power shifts from them to whoever the potential buyer it is clearly it looks like it’s, it’s potentially going to be going to be Microsoft. But this also coming back to the Tencent side of this. This also brings up questions around what they would have to do with those majority sakes and Supercell. In Riot Games. One thing I think could make some sense, which I’d be excited to see as a public markets investor in the games industry would be a spin off of Riot Games onto a US exchange, which is something that I think when you look at Riot, certainly they get a ton of revenues from China, but you know, they’re based in the US, I think it could make a lot of sense to really split them off from Tencent in some ways, it’s probably a win win in that case, unlike, unlike the ByteDance situation where their hands really, really being forced. If Tencent did that I think it would maybe appease US government in a little bit of a way but also maybe unlock value for Tencent shareholders. That’s something I’ve been thinking about too. I think you’re absolutely right that you know this administration’s kind of going about things in the way that executive orders is the catch all where you get the ball rolling. But I wouldn’t be surprised if there is some level of bipartisan support for going after these apps that are potentially targeting US citizen data. I mean, I mean, China’s done this exact same thing to us for decades, literally, almost every app under the sun website from the US has banned in China. I’m kind of surprised it’s taken this long for us to do the same. But yeah, I think I think there’s concerns here and I don’t think it’s just one side of the table when it comes to politics. I think there’s a real concern here.

Imad Khan  05:35

Yeah, you know, I don’t think there’s ever been a Chinese kind of social media platform app that has had the level of reach that Tiktok has, right? For me, it’s crazy. You know, that Google Facebook, I assume Twitter, like all these, like major platforms are just straight up banned in China because, you know, being American, we allow a level of free speech. And the Chinese Communist Party does not tend to like that, you know, Google has been trying to get back in China and is back in China at the moment at a very limited capacity, which a lot of Google employees are frustrated with. But you know, it’s not only limited to Google, like even Hollywood, they understand the power of the Chinese market. And, you know, a lot of movies and actors that, you know, played roles that were critical of China, like those actors aren’t even allowed into the country, Hollywood now has to essentially, you know, if they want to be in China and do well in China, you know, they have to always like, you know, have some Chinese scene or like some seat in China, like do something to make sure that you know, they’re getting that Chinese revenue. The thing is that when you’re playing with an actor that is so against the idea of free speech, like these tensions are bound to happen. I think the US companies that were kind of greedily going after China, they really should have seen this one coming. It was only a matter of time before these incongruencies butted heads with each other.

Will Hershey  06:50

Yeah. But coming back to what I said earlier, the fact that almost everything from the US is banned in China already. There’s no kind of tit for tat here from the Chinese side. Right. They’ve already banned it. Everything the US can ban TikTok and WeChat, the Chinese have already banned, like there’s no, there’s nowhere else to go, at least as it relates to kind of internet based and kind of this whole concept around data. But you’re also talking about something really interesting, which is, and I think we’ve seen glimpses of this with kind of the free Hong Kong movement and the NBA is there’s this fine line of trying to do kind of what’s right, but but also, you know, we’ve seen NBA superstars that haven’t been willing to kind of go out in the limb, if you will, in defense of Hong Kong, because they also recognize how much of their revenue comes from China and how important China is, from a strategic standpoint, to their overall business. So it’s and and I think the economy over the past 20 years gotten so much more global, where everything’s interconnected, even between countries that are feuding like US and China. Unfortunately, I think there’s probably just at the beginning of what could be kind of this, this digital Cold War, if you will, but hopefully we can find a solution that works but it’s very difficult from our side to see how that could play out. And well, you know, I guess

Imad Khan  08:03

The reason we invited you on the show to begin with was to talk about the Huya and Douyu you kind of streaming deals that have been happening this past week. And Tencent is also heavily involved with both these companies and has been trying to merge them for a while. So well, I guess, let’s do a quick kind of overview like what are these two streaming platforms and why are they important?

Will Hershey  08:23

At the very highest level for those maybe that aren’t familiar who you enjoy, you look a lot like Twitch does. But as we just talked about the Twitch is one of those platforms that is banned in China so as YouTube, so really what, what who you and do you are kind of two most significant live streaming platforms in China. And really what’s going on here is Tencent, which owns somewhere around 40% give or take of each is finally pushing towards merging these two platforms into one kind of super giant platform that controls a large majority of the Chinese livestream market which by the way, is roughly five times the size of the US is in terms of the number of people engaging with live streaming. And just to give you a little bit of numbers in terms of how big this really is, the combined value of Huya and Douyu you, which are both publicly traded actually in the US will be over 10 billion. In fact, this deal goes through and we’re talking about over the past kind of year combined between those two platforms two and a half billion dollars in revenues, which we don’t know what Twitch’s revenues, our adventure is probably somewhere less than that. So just to give you an idea of how big this really could become, you’re also talking about like 300 million monthly active users, which is, you know, almost the population or more than, I don’t know where the US population is now, but it’s right around there. These are really important platforms when it comes to China. And what we’ve seen play out there over the past several years, which is kind of interesting, because we just saw Mixer shut down, is some of the kind of mid tier streaming platforms have shut down. So you had Chushou TV shut down. You had Panda TV shut down. And really that’s been a result of how competitive livestream market is whether in the US or in China. And over there. Why I think this deal is so important is you have a much more mature, live streaming economy. Content creators in China, even we’re talking about mid tier streamers, or even lower tier streamers are on multi year exclusive contracts with whatever platform they’re with. So it’s not just the equivalent of Ninja and Shroud signing deals over there. It’s the it’s the mid tier players. So what this really does by potentially merging the you know, it would be as if YouTube gaming and Twitch merged is kind of the best analogy I can give you. You’re talking about a power shift from the creators back to what would be the platform. And I think for me, that’s really important with regards to the Chinese market, but also when you look at what this combined company could be if they merge Huya and Douyu, to me, I think that that combined entity becomes a bigger threat to Twitch outside of the US than a YouTube or even a Facebook. And we’ve already started to see these Chinese platforms, you know, move outside of China, notably into Southeast Asia into Latin America. And I think this is just like a really big deal if it gets done for kind of the shift of power within the global livestream industry, everyone knows Twitch in this part of the world. But these companies are they’re massive, just based on how many people in China are tuning in every day.

Imad Khan  11:27

And then there’s also been some deals with actual esports tournaments in regards to these companies.

Will Hershey  11:32

Yep. So I think just this week, Douyu signed an exclusive with MTG, which is the parent company of Dreamhack and ESL, another Chinese streaming platform separate from these, which is BiliBili just announced that they closed on the League of Legends deal. And to be clear, this is for the exclusive rights, basically for Worlds and I think it’s for the all star game and maybe one other tournament, just for China. So just for the Chinese money. They’re getting the Mandarin exclusive for those league tournaments. And I’m hearing that the number was for three years $113 million. Now. That’s like almost basically what the Youtube deal with Activision Blizzard esports was and that includes Hearthstone, Call of Duty, and Overwatch League. To me that says two things. One it says how big League is to how big is the Chinese market if they’re able to sign an exclusive just for these three tournament’s and be willing and be willing to pay that kind of money. It’s like we can’t even fathom how much more eSports is in terms of viewership base in terms of mainstream culture in that part of the world than what it is here.

Imad Khan  12:38

Yeah. The other deal that I think kind of got buried under this was the Dignitas deal with Huya, in which three of its Counter Strike. Players will start streaming on Huya on August 1.

Will Hershey  12:49

I mean that no, that’s an interesting that’s an interesting deal, who has also done some stuff where they’ve worked with Western esports teams before so they have an exclusive I believe with Team Liquid for Chinese streaming. What’s Really interesting what’s going on behind the scenes here is, I mentioned this a little bit earlier. But the content creators, the casual streamers within China are all locked up. Imagine if like the top 200 streamers in the US were all locked up in their multi multi year contracts. Where do you go next? If you’re a streaming platform to try and bring exciting content on your platform? One, you go and you signed deals directly with the esports league operators. So we saw that and then too, you’re signing directly with teams. And I think it’s this natural evolution of kind of, to me, it’s interesting that we’re getting to the point now where they’re starting to sign these deals with individual players, but this is what’s gonna happen I believe in us as well. So the Chinese market is three to five years ahead of where the US is in terms of live streaming. And the one last thing I’d say on this that’s really interesting that we’re starting to see in the US is live streaming starts as gaming, but it ends up becoming a lot more than that. Just chatting IRL is probably the fastest growing channel on Twitch in China. Now you’re already talking about 40% of revenues for these livestream platforms comes from non game streaming, I think it just speaks to the power of streaming platforms. And once again, I think my talked about this last time I was on, but like, this is why all the big tech companies are investing, because gaming is just going to be the way that gets people in the door. But then there’s all this other types of content you can deliver via streaming, you can even potentially move towards e-commerce via streaming where you’re actually buying things that you’re watching someone interact with. I mean, the upside is endless there. But ya know, the Chinese platforms are light years ahead of what we are here.

Imad Khan  14:37

And I mean, is there any chance if Huya and Douyu, you know, whatever their combined entity becomes if it all goes through, starts to really aggressively push into the US market, I mean, is there just more chance that the White House or Congress could just be like, okay, no, you guys are like siphoning user data. Can’t we? Like we’re just banning you?

Will Hershey  14:57

That’s a great question. I mean, I think to my knowledge, that neither of those platforms as they’ve been standalone have tried to do so. But yeah, I mean, like, why would you let a new platform come if you’re banning these other ones, I think that that’s certainly a risk. You also have Tencent, which is the parent company here, once again, Tencent owns owns everything under the sun that’s involved in gaming, they recently started to roll out their own streaming platform in the US, I think it’s called Trovo. So I think they would probably want to push that product rather than a you know, either Huya and Douyu into the US, but that’s, I mean, that’s certainly at risk now, right? Like, to your point, like, Who cares what the medium is, if it’s live streaming versus WeChat messaging, like, it’s all related to the same concept of we don’t want our data in any way getting back to the CCP.

Imad Khan  15:42

And yet, you know, it’s like one of these things where I talk to my friend who for example, is like really big on TikTok and, you know, loves loves the app. And you know, she thinks that who cares? He’s like, all of these companies are siphoning our data anyway, kind of situation. I tell her that the way the Chinese government operates, the US government has been bugging to China for years about this stuff, right? China just doesn’t seem to really care and kind of just plays by its own rules and does whatever it wants. Right. And at a certain point, like that relationship couldn’t continue to be tenable In my opinion, like it was going to blow up. So this is all really fascinating stuff. It’s all you know, tied into inter geopolitical economics and politics. We’ll definitely have you on when more of this develops. Thank you.

Will Hershey  16:23

Sounds great. Thanks Imad.

Imad Khan  16:25

And now I’m joined by reporter Joseph Franco. Last week, it was announced that Overwatch league players like Atlanta Reign’s Babybay and Houston Outlaws Rawkus we’re moving over to Valorant these are two major personalities within the scene, both Babybay and Rawkus we’ll be going over to FaZe Clan new Valorant team, there’ll be joining Overwatch League MVP Sinatra who is currently with Sentinels. Joseph This is now becoming a recurring trend where the top players and Overwatch are going over to this new game. What is going on?

Joseph Franco  16:55

I think Overwatch in general has this this underlying identity kind of crisis going on and I don’t think Blizzard’s done an incredibly great job within these last few years of addressing it, the company at large has only really expedited that issue with the the roll lock system coming in late last year and the hero pool system I think a lot of older and more FPS oriented pro gamers that are in Overwatch in the Overwatch League are kind of disenfranchised. They’re they’re looking for something new, they’re looking for something fresh, and they’re kind of finding a home environment they’re finding kind of a fresh start and funnily enough they’re they’re doing pretty well for themselves I think sentinels is really doing well in North America and FaZe look to be super promising obviously. Why the exodus? It’s it’s a multitude of things. It’s Blizzard. It’s the game it’s you know, it’s Valorant looking pretty, you know, exciting and new and fresh. It’s a fresh take on the FPS kind of tactical genre so it’s it’s a it’s a couple of things. It’s not a not a clean situation is pretty messy.

Imad Khan  17:53

And I mean, how can a league survive when its top players and personalities, the ones with storylines that people have been following most closely continue to just bleed away I think so far in the Korean players really haven’t jumped on to Valorant yet and I guess for Western fans, are they able to, I don’t know create that same level of connection as they had with a Rawkus or Sinatraa or Babybay.

Joseph Franco  18:18

Korean players definitely haven’t jumped over on mass just yet or they might not at all It seems like there’s a few reasons for that one being that it seems like the PC kind of cafe culture in South Korea doesn’t necessarily kind of support the very kind of invasive anti cheat system there seems to be a problem with like the software they use and the the the software that Riot’s kind of using their proprietary kind of anti cheat. So there’s kind of a clash there. So it’s not necessarily picking up as much steam. But you know, Korea is doing alright weirdly enough, Japan’s doing you know, well for itself in Valorant. But when it comes to NA, it seems like in regards to the Overwatch League and the players kind of like bleeding away. It is worrisome, I think, Overwatch 2 in particular is going to be that that next big step for Blizzard and kind of like having players kind of rebuy back in because it is so I won’t say dismal because we’re in a really good spot right now within the Overwatch League we got these tournaments coming back and we’re getting exciting matches you know, we’re kind of limiting the effects of the hero pool system that’s been pretty highly criticized. Hopefully that kind of got the the meat of the question, but it’s, it’s kind of all over the place.

Imad Khan  19:28

Well, you know, speaking of Overwatch 2, Jeff Kaplan, he’s laying out a development plan for the Overwatch franchise to essentially be more like Valorant. Have you read up on this?

Joseph Franco  19:39

I’ve seen the AMA I’ve seen and kind of listened to some opinions on it. It’s pretty interesting because the game so divorced from a game like Valorant it would be another kind of massive overhaul, which again, it seems like Blizzard always just wants to kind of like fiddle with Overwatch to figure out what it wants to be or what they want it to be this week. It is interesting. I’ve seen some of the comments that the developers have made like Jeff and and the rest of the crew but it’s it’s pretty surprising that that’s kind of going around it doesn’t necessarily come across in terms of the development cycle. But again, it seems like Overwatch and Blizzard in the team around that that is developing the game seems to kind of be clashing internally. Maybe they’ve kind of course corrected maybe they’ve kind of like reverse split the room. Again, I’m gonna kind of leave my chips on the table. You know, I’ll bet when the hand comes out I’ll bet on the river.

Imad Khan  20:33

How is Overwatch? This playerbase been looking like has it been relatively consistent? Is it shrinking? Is the game expanding into new markets?

Joseph Franco  20:41

It’s kind of difficult to say if we were to judge like the game strength based on like the viewership. I’d say that within these last few months with the additions of the monthly tournaments, people have definitely been looking more fondly with just voting with their kind of wallets let’s say are voting with their attention spans the viewership scene. seems to have been you know a slight increase with these these monthly tournament’s looking pretty decent I think Asia reportedly is doing incredibly well in terms of viewership and kind of activation. But in terms of just like monthly active users with the game itself, I’ve got to assume it’s probably down like we haven’t necessarily had a ton of new content a lot of the resources are being poured into Overwatch 2. It’s difficult to say for sure, if I had to guess I gotta say it’s definitely down but I think the interest on the esports side of things is trending upward.

Imad Khan  21:30

I was looking into kind of which games are popular in India and I was told that like PUBG Mobile for example is like super popular there while Fornite has is pretty much non existent and the reason I was sold is because like the Indian audience doesn’t like cartoony looking games. I guess I had never really considered that like how art style can really affect a potential like you know, billion person market. I wonder to what extent the arts will change in Overwatch 2 because definitely Overwatch defined itself with its art and diverse cast of characters. But so I get into some of these markets that you know, prefer PUBg or Counter Strike. I mean, is the art going to have the trend in a different way? Would they be willing to do that? Would they want to do that?

Joseph Franco  22:14

I think it would be a pretty big departure away from the kind of light hearted I wouldn’t say anime but kind of cartoony art style that Overwatch definitely has to kind of go away from that that’d be a pretty big shift. The one thing I can say about Blizzard and you know, credit where credit’s due I do appreciate their polish. I don’t think they’d be willing to to kind of go that far and make something a little bit more realistic. We’d probably have to wait for like some sort of like Overwatch 2.5 or like Overwatch 3 before that happens. It is interesting, though, that that art style is kind of one of the big deciding factors in games. I know that some of the early criticisms for Valorant was was something similar kind of coming out of the Korean messaging boards, a lot of people were kind of disappointed that a game that’s coming out in 2020 looked as dated as Valorant did, and I don’t necessarily kind of hold those opinions, but a lot of people were a little bit, you know, turned off by it. So to your point, like it is a but it’s a big solution for developers to try and solve because it’s something that isn’t going away. It’s something that’s like very on face value. And, you know, people have to kind of pay attention to it if they want to get into those markets. So it’s kind of an interesting trend.

Imad Khan  23:28

Yeah, I wonder if it’s possible for let’s say, the Indian version of Overwatch just like when it’s played there if it sounded that way, like to just have a different skin running on the game, but still like the same underlying game that could still be played across the interesting worldwide. Yeah. So I guess Lastly, is this last we’re going to see of Overwatch players jumping over to Valorant?

Joseph Franco  23:49

Oh, no, I think I think it’s sad to say but I think we haven’t seen the last of it. I think we’re probably due for another kind of like shipment of Overwatch players to Valorant or maybe even other games. By the end of this year, I’d imagine that some some more players are probably going to just hang up kind of, again just disenfranchised, they’re looking for something new. They’re kind of looking at the gold rush that is Valorant at the moment, I think they’re licking their chops they kind of want to move over try it at least, and in Overwatch isn’t really going anywhere. So coming back isn’t necessarily taboo. I don’t think that community’s just going to abandon all hope and and leave the game and I don’t think they’re going to kind of leave the players if they were to return from their gold rush kind of mining operation and Valorant and come back at some point. Will they? It’s tough to say it depends on the player. I think the players that have moved over for you know, specifically FaZe Clan, you’ve got Corey, you’ve got Babybay, you’ve got Rawkus. I think those players in particular are really kind of situated well to do pretty well for themselves and Valorant they they kind of fit the mold they do really well. Babybay in particular being that insane hitscan player as well Corey, Rawkus being that kind of glue with with some mechanics bind him for sure. I don’t see them kind of coming back anytime soon. So to kind of return back to the question, I think there’s definitely going to be more more people shipped out out west.

Imad Khan  23:50

I guess we’re just going to keep an eye on what Activision Blizzard will do to keep its scene from completely imploding. And now, let’s answer a question from our fan of the week, which this week comes from Bob Holtzman. Bob asks, What do we make of Dr. Disrespect grabbing 335,000 peak viewers on his teaser on YouTube earlier this week. Joseph?

Joseph Franco  25:36

With Dr. Disrespect coming in with the the amount of viewers that he did. It’s impressive to say the least I think that it’s a testament to his his brand direction, the consistency with it. The fervor of the fans that he’s kind of built around I think the best way that I’ve seen it put being him being the the internet’s favorite heel. Like this this kind of weird antagonist I think the mystery surrounding it is still like peeking people’s interest people are still super interested in exactly what happened to him what exactly is going on I’ve seen you know, conspiracies running all kinds of you know, left of center right of center whatever it is like everybody seems to have an opinion on it. It’s kind of the the the the internet celebrity has really kind of taken over with Doc and yeah. It’s it’s hopeful it’s interesting, you know, it’s kind of interesting to see YouTube make a push there, we’ll have to see exactly what happens with that if it’s an exclusive thing. If he’s just you know, there how many people are going to come over if any, in terms of streamers in terms of viewers so it’s, it’s it’s pretty interesting. I’m in terms of what to make of it. I’m not sure what to make of it as of yet other than, you know, it’s pretty exciting and kind of interesting to interested to see how it kind of pans out.

Imad Khan  26:59

It’s really a testament to his marketing I’ve been reading up on what some PR folks are saying in terms of like his design and like the kind of the virtual space and playground that he’s creating for his fans. He’s kind of redefining what streaming can be as a entertainment platform as a long form show it’s it can be more than just a guy in front of a camera with a video game, you know, running behind him. And I think you’re right the a lot of the interest around Doc and what’s you know, what happened to him is fueling this incredible swell of attention towards him because you look at your another big launch this week was Venn, which is this new esports gaming posts cable channel, and you know, their viewership. I mean, it was, I guess, decent for a brand new launch, but man, I mean, Doc just drops a stream in which he’s not even there and has 300 like times more viewers. It’s kind of like nuts. So I think, you know, I think reporters like you and I, we need to kind of get to the bottom of this. What’s going on. It’s been really frustrating because we will I’ve been speaking to just are not willing to talk about it or just don’t know enough information to adequately talk about it. So, I don’t know. But we’ll continue following this, but it’s definitely an interesting testament to just his fan base and the cult that he has created the cult of personality, I would say with that, Joseph, thank you so much for jumping on the show.

Joseph Franco  28:20

Yeah, no, thank you. Thanks for having me. It’s always always a pleasure.

Imad Khan  28:24

And that was FTW with Imad Khan. Please rate and subscribe to help support the show. Full transcripts of the show can be found at ftwimad.com. To follow Will Hershey and all the insights he has in the world of gaming and esports markets and investments follow him maybebullish on Twitter. To follow Joseph and his writing, you can find him over at volamel on Twitter. If you want to follow my writing over at the New York Times, the Washington Post’s and elsewhere you can find me on Twitter at Imad. Annie Pei is our producer. Questions about the show can be directed to her at Pei_Annie on Twitter. Joe Domeq is our Outreach Manager and Ron Lyons is our researcher. With that, we’ll catch you next week.

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