You may have noticed on Thursday over at the official Magic site that Wizards of the Coast announced a new partnership with Twitch making Twitch the exclusive video content broadcast, streaming, and distribution partner for Magic premier play events. According to the announcement, “This collaboration is intended to deliver the best Magic coverage and streaming experience for fans around the world. This will translate into more coverage for Magic events and improved coverage quality for a wider audience.”

After a few words from Wizards of the Coast’s Director of Organized Play Helene Bergeot and Twitch’s Chief Operating Officer Kevin Lin, the announcement provided a few more interesting details. “Twitch will be the exclusive streaming provider—outside of Japan and China—for Magic Grand Prix, Pro Tours, World Championships, as well as the World Magic Cup.” But wait, there’s more, “Additionally, the partnership will allow Wizards of the Coast to stream more of its international events in English, collaborate on sponsorships, and ultimately make the Magic viewing experience among the best in the world.”

The Twitch blog had a similar announcement for the deal. In the announcement, Twitch mentions that, “This means you’ll see more and even better coverage of Magic Pro Tour and Grand Prix events on Twitch. We have new features and plans we’re excited to roll out to the Magic community in 2017—so stay tuned to for more info as it drops.”

Deliver the Best Magic Coverage and Streaming Experience

Let’s break down the comments from the two announcements beginning with the idea that coverage and streaming will somehow improve because of this. Perhaps the key phrases are “for fans around the world” and “for a wider audience.” I actually have no idea what it’s like to watch tournament coverage in Europe. Maybe it’s an awful experience. Being based in North America, there hasn’t really been any issue with the video quality of Twitch’s broadcasts of Magic premiere events in the past. So based on that I don’t feel too excited about improvements in quality coverage.

However, the broadcast does involve more than just technical details. For many years the community has been very vocal in their criticism of the production quality of tournament coverage. The narratives aren’t engaging. The commentary is often unhelpful or even confusing (pre-LSV). There isn’t enough action on camera. The list goes on and on. If Wizards is going to collaborate with Twitch, who produce a lot of tournaments for other partners, then it’s possible Twitch will be allowed to fix some of the problems Wizards hasn’t addressed. That could be a big win for the fans.

Outside of Japan and China

This part isn’t too surprising. If you’re interested in learning more about why Twitch isn’t able to provide access to these markets you can read this Kotaku article on the challenges Twitch faces in Japan, and this Venture Beat article on the rise of Panda TV, which is China’s equivalent of Twitch.

Allow Wizards of the Coast to Stream More of its Events in English

Here we finally get to what I think is going to be the most important bit of information for Magic fans. As we all know, in 2016 Wizards cut down on the number of Grand Prix events that get streaming coverage. The community was not happy about this decision. At the time it seemed that the decision mostly revolved around financial challenges. Wizards wanted to improve the quality of Grand Prix coverage, but they could not afford to do so at every event. Instead of having some events with sub-par quality, they decided to have no coverage at all.

So is Twitch going to pony up the cash Wizards needs to accomplish this? Let’s move on to…

Collaborate on Sponsorships

Here is the absolute meat and potatoes of what should be read between the lines of this announcement: money. It’s no secret that Wizards has been telling us for years that they don’t have enough money to run better tournaments. For a long time they were cutting back on Pro Tours and Grand Prix events. They recently tried to reduce the compensation they give to members of the Platinum Club and did cut back on the bonus given to Hall of Fame members. The bottom line has been an ongoing issue for premier play.

So what’s the real benefit to Wizards in giving Twitch exclusive streaming rights to Magic, which isn’t exactly one of the platform’s most popular tenants? In exchange it seems that Wizards is going to get access to Twitch’s extensive network of advertising partners. For a long time I’ve talked about the fact that tournaments don’t have major sponsors from the outside world. Why isn’t the World Magic Cup presented by some corporate entity? Surely the issues are all legal, because why else would Wizards and Hasbro turn down that money. Hopefully Twitch can help resolve some of these problems, and in exchange they’ll get the exclusive streaming rights to what may one day be a marketable product.

But for the rest of us, let’s just hope this translates to a return of tournament coverage for all Grand Prix events.

What We Learned is a weekly feature here at Hipsters of the Coast written by former amateur Magic Player Rich Stein, who came really close to making day two of a Grand Prix on several occasions. Each week we will take a look at the past seven days of major events, big news items, and community happenings so that you can keep up-to-date on all the latest and greatest Magic: the Gathering community news.

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