How Rooter grew to 5 lakh game streamers and 1 lakh game streams per day?
Rooter is an example of one of the major start-up pivots post pandemic. Starting off as a sports engagement platform, Rooter leveraged its live content technology to deliver live action sports, commentary, live quizzes, etc., to its users. When live sports content halted during the pandemic months, Rooter saw an opportunity in game streaming content. It aggressively entered game streaming territory which was a completely open field with only one major player YouTube. Since then, the app has seen an incredible growth with more than 13 million downloads in the last 12 months and ranking No. 1 on the Google Play Store under sports genre.
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With Rooter’s focus on the supply side and product, it has churned incredible metrics. Rooter has 5 lakh streamers on its platform. An average user watches live game streams daily for 31 minutes (which is the highest in the segment). It is growing at 5X the pace of its nearest competitor. Rooter is partnering with leading game publishers to build esports tournaments, offering lakhs in cash prizes. Recently, Rooter has hosted India’s first-ever Tri-Nation Invitational Valorant Esports Championship – Rooter Rise of Legends 2021 – officially, licensed by Riot Games, where offering a prize pool of Rs 4,00,000 ($5313), the championship witnessed the participation of 16 top teams from India, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka.
In conversation with Adgully, Piyush Kumar, Founder and CEO, Rooter, speaks about the company’s growth, user acquisition strategy and revenue model.
What has been the journey of Rooter until now?
We started as a sports fan engagement platform to connect fans with each other. This was the business model for about three and a half years. About one and a half years back, we pivoted to game streaming once we realised the opportunity in the gaming market.
What is the opportunity for game streaming in India?
Before PUBG came, the game streaming market in India was growing slowly for a long period of time. PUBG launched in 2018 and for the next two years grew its base to 175 million gamers. Currently, about 400 million (40 crore) Indians play mobile games.
So, I think the gaming market is going to be as big as sports in no time. There are three aspects to gaming:
- Game publishers – the studios that actually develop games
- Gaming content – streamers, content studios and platforms
- Esports – competitive tournaments with cash prizes
Most of the games played in India, especially the battle royale games, are owned by foreign game companies, so there are two big opportunities – streaming and esports. We do both.
In-spite of YouTube, has the streaming audience been underserved in India?
When it comes to gaming content, people like to see livestreams and not edited videos. Game streaming in India only started in 2019 and there was only YouTube. We have the opportunity to give Indian gamers and viewers a dedicated platform for streaming. This meant going after the local languages and local communities. We have grown from 100 to 5 lakh game streamers creating content on our platform.
Rooter has one of the biggest game streaming communities, which we have built over one and a half years. More than 18 per cent of people who download Rooter every month stream a game. If you look at Instagram, YouTube or any other social platform, only 1-2 per cent create any kind of content. We incentivised creators who streamed more than three hours a day to be eligible for Rooter Creator Program that allows them to make money from streams. 10-15 per cent of our content is video.
India is really a mobile gaming market. Our platform was built to enable mobile game streaming. That way, we are able to engage users from Tier 1 and 2 markets who play on their mobile handsets. We have democratised the process of streaming games and made it easy to build a following, make money and create a career.
What are the metrics on your platform that are attracting advertisers and investor?
We are seeing more than 1 lakh streams per day, which means 3 million streams per month and 72 new streams every minute. Games like Free Fire, Battlegrounds Mobile India, Call of Duty Mobile, Among Us, Valorant are played on our platform. Our platform is exactly like a social media. It is believed that in five to seven years, social media will shift to gaming and people will get bored of watching video and will play games instead.
We are the biggest platform in India, growing at 5X pace of the nearest competitor. If you look at Sensor Tower data for May 2021, Rooter had 2 million downloads, followed by 400,000 downloads and 300,000 downloads for our competitors. About 10% of our users come from Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Nepal. Once we cross 50 million users in India, we will enter new mobile markets.
We have been growing organically for the last 10 months with 13 million downloads on the Google Play Store. This has made us the No.1 app on the Google Play Store under the sports category. More than 60 per cent of users download Rooter app because someone invites them. More than 92 per cent of our users have joined organically.
While we do a lot of marketing around our content and tournaments, we typically don’t spend on advertising because we don’t need it.
How have you built esports engagement on your platform?
We’re working closely with all the game publishers and game studios. We recently worked with Riot Games to launch a ‘Rise of Legends’ tournament earlier this month. The eight-day tournament reached more than 5 million unique visitors and had sponsors like MX Takatak and Shunya. It was a tri-nation tournament between India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, eventually, India won.
Now, we are planning to launch a Call of Duty Mobile tournament as well as a tournament around Valorant. We also partner with tournaments like India Today’s Esports Players League (ESPL), which is a Free Fire tournament. The tournament will be streamed on the Rooter app because our demand side is very strong.
What is your monetisation model?
We have four revenue streams from advertising, branded content and sponsorship, performance marketing and user monetisation.
We have been providing an ad solution for the past four to five months with native inventory that any brand can buy. Almost 70 brands advertise every month on our platform who want to reach 24-year-olds and below. These are real money gaming, content, crypto, consumer electronic and other big brands. Apart from a few categories like lifestyle, most brands are working with us. Next, we do a lot of performance marketing, where brands leverage our platform to boost their downloads, subscriptions, website visits, etc. We also make money via esports tournaments via sponsorships and branded content by leveraging our streamers. Rooter is also leveraging direct monetisation from its users via a unique marketplace model. Right now, the B2B revenue is bigger but the B2C model which has just started is doing fairly well.
Tell us about your marketplace model?
We wanted to make the entire process of creating and consuming content more gamified. So, we introduced two currencies – Rooter Coins and Rooter Diamond. Our users can win Rooter Coins by participating in contests, streams, viewing ads, and many other ways. You may then redeem these coins for various vouchers.
Rooter Diamonds can be bought from the Rooter marketplace for real money and can be used to buy perks or gift stickers to streamers. Gifting stickers is a way of supporting your favourite streamers and helps them earn money.