Facebook takes aim at Twitch and YouTube with 'Gaming Creator Pilot Program'

ESL recently signed a deal with Facebook that makes the massive social network its "main broadcast partner" for CS:GO Pro League and ESL One Events. Ahead of the weekend, Facebook took the next step in its process of muscling in on Twitch and 'Tube territory with the launch of the Gaming Creator Pilot Program, a streamer-dedicated initiative focused on "helping gaming creators build more meaningful and more engaged communities on Facebook than anywhere else." 

The program is still in early days, but the announcement talks about improving discoverability across "surfaces," including Facebook, Instagram, and Oculus, and developing tools that streamers need "to make a living streaming games on Facebook." Naturally, monetization is also integral to that—can't earn a living without money—and Facebook is looking into ways to enable direct payments to streamers during some livestreams. 

"There's a lot of work to be done, but we’re committed to building the fundamental architecture that gaming creators need to be successful, starting with foundational elements like enabling all creators in the program to livestream in 1080p/60fps," the announcement says. "Most of all, with each new feature we add for gaming video, we’re committed to building it alongside our creators hand-in-hand." 

1080p and embedded PayPal links aren't exactly revolutionary, and the ESL's debut event on Facebook did not go entirely smoothly—ESL senior vice president Ulrich Schulze apologized for "technical issues" in a recent AMA, saying, "the viewing experience on the Facebook platform is not yet where they or us want it to be ... It is something everyone involved has been working on around the clock - but obviously that is not enough at this point." 

But what Facebook does have, that platforms like Twitch and even YouTube do not, is mainstream reach. ESL said that being on Facebook will help it "grow the overall esports audience and to bring our sports to an even broader group of viewers," and Facebook quite clearly positioning its reach as the primary selling point here as well.   

"Livestreaming and watching others play games is a worldwide phenomena," it wrote. "And when you combine the massive global community of gamers on Facebook, with the community-first format that gaming creators know how to cultivate, we together can shape a creator-first ecosystem on Facebook."