National Women’s Hockey League (NWHL) commissioner Dani Rylan says that the competition’s live streaming deal with Amazon-owned platform Twitch has “surpassed our expectations” during the first month of the season.
The North American women's ice hockey competition announced an exclusive three-year streaming partnership with Twitch in September in a deal which saw the league receive a media rights fee for the first time in its history.
The 14 NWHL games streamed on Twitch between 5th and 27th October averaged 67,790 viewers per match, with a total 949,065 users tuning in across all the matches. The most watched game so far on Twitch was the Boston Pride’s 4-2 win over the Buffalo Beauts on 12th October, which roped in 145,172 viewers.
The figure is down on the average viewership for NWHL games last season on video-sharing platform YouTube and social media site Twitter, which were watched by an average 70,000 fans, but that number also accounted for the season-ending play-offs and All-Star events, both of which contributed to spikes in viewing figures.
An official release said 60 per cent of the viewership on Twitch so far this season has come from the US, with nine per cent coming from Canada. Interestingly, ten per cent of the viewership has come from the UK.
“Our expectations are always high, but viewership this first month surpassed our expectations,” said Rylan. “Twitch is the largest sports streaming platform in the world, so that has brought before a large and new audience, and the management team at Twitch is committed to our joint success. They’ve guided us and have really been phenomenal to work with.”
NWHL broadcasts on Twitch allow viewers to engage with other fans through the platform's chat function, as well as broadcasters and influencers. The league currently has 5,752 registered followers on the platform.
"Traditional sports have found their home on Twitch by building strong communities and thus, making the viewing experience more enjoyable," added Jane Weedon, director of business development at Twitch. "Watching on Twitch is not unlike watching in-person at the rink — chatting and cheering alongside other fans — and the NWHL has successfully built a viewing experience around these behaviors in a live online setting."