Tencent Holdings Ltd is rolling out a live streaming service similar to Twitch from Amazon.com Inc in the United States, making a rare foray into American social media.
China’s largest company has been quietly testing a mobile broadcast network through a subsidiary in the United States since at least March. Originally called Madcat and now under the Trovo Live brand, the new service closely resembles Twitch in appearance and functionality. Beyond Tencent’s own popular game portfolio like Fortnite and PUBG Mobile, Trovo also highlights renowned titles such as Grand Theft Auto and Destiny 2. This week, he detailed plans on his website to attract and reward creators with a $ 30 million (RM128.75 million) partner program starting in July.
Tencent dominates games and social media in its home market and may be one of the few companies that can afford to challenge Twitch. But operator WeChat has had mixed results in its efforts to create online users abroad, and Trovo is just an embryonic service at the moment.
Still in beta, Trovo went largely unnoticed outside the gaming community. Its most popular live streams have only a few dozen viewers at a time, although its Discord chat channel has more than 5,000 members. It has attracted experienced creators from Twitch, YouTube and Microsoft Corp’s upcoming mixing platform.
“Tencent being a funder for mobile creators is definitely a big advantage as they run most of the biggest competitive mobile games in the world,” said Bobby Plays, a game content creator with nearly 450,000 YouTube subscribers. who recently joined the fledgling service. He “has so far had only good experiences” with Trovo, although operators of the platform have not directly communicated their Tencent affiliation to him, he added.
Trovo declares in the conditions of use of its website that it is affiliated with Tencent’s, without further details. The document lists a contact address that matches that of the Chinese giant’s US headquarters in Palo Alto, California. Tencent declined to comment.
Tencent has actively expanded its online streaming assets in the past few months, after spending US $ 263 million (RMB 1.13 billion) in April to buy control of the Chinese equivalent Twitch Huya Inc. and acquire this content and technology week with struggling Southeast Asian company iFlix Ltd.
Trovo’s development and testing took place under the radar at a time of increased control over Chinese ownership of social media in the United States. Rival ByteDance Ltd has been the subject of concerns raised by US Senator Marco Rubio about platforms such as its video sharing service TikTok “used as a tool by the Chinese Communist Party to extend its authoritarian censorship”. Zynn – a Tencent-supported Kuaishou video sharing app that has recently increased in US downloads – was also vague about its Chinese connection.
Like Twitch, Trovo sports a live channel carousel showcase, sidebars to chat with other viewers, and channel recommendations highlighting the most popular active creators. It also has paid subscriptions and rewards that allow viewers to support their favorite streamers. Another similarity of Twitch is the tiered partnership program designed to encourage players to join and evangelize the service.
The imminent arrival of Trovo comes at a time of upheaval on the American scene of game streaming. Microsoft this week announced the closure of its Mixer platform, which poached the high-level Ninja streamer away from Twitch last summer in a costly but ultimately unsuccessful move. Twitch itself has been rocked by a series of allegations that some of its popular users are turning a blind eye to sexual harassment and abuse. The Amazon-owned service said it would investigate and suspend the accounts. – Bloomberg