Live streaming service Caffeine.TV has announced an exclusive multiyear partnership with Drake. Infamous for his own rap feuds, the Canadian artist will first produce a series of rap battles along with a range of additional live content, all of which will premiere on the rapper’s new Caffeine channel.
Produced in partnership with Ultimate Rap League (URL), the first battle will stream live from Atlanta on Feb. 29 with two more planned for this spring in Houston and Charlotte.
“There’s millions of people and this huge community around the world of people who love real battle rap and URL is the biggest, most authentic, most respected battle rapping league in the world,” Caffeine founder and CEO Ben Keighran tells Variety. “It’s got the sort of core tenets of UFC fighting and boxing. But, getting into the experience right now — if you spoke to Drake, he’d say getting into it is really difficult.”
The four-year-old Caffeine has enlisted other entertainers and sports figures to contribute to its unique programming including Doja Cat, Offset, Smith-Schuster and Los Angeles Laker Kyle Kuzma. Migos rapper Offset hosts two programs: “Bet with Set,” a competition series in which he goes head-to-head with other artists in a variety of games; and a live-stream that follows the rapper as he plays his favorite games. Utilizing Caffeine’s technology, hosts are able to communicate with fans through a chat room in real time (without the burden of delays or video lagging, says the company). Fans can also make virtual purchases through the chat room, ultimately profiting the host who participating in profit sharing.
Not that Drake needs the cash, so what drew the rapper to Caffeine? “He wants to always be creating content,” says Keighran. “He wants to innovate, and he’s really interested in live streaming, but thinks that, we’re seeing live streaming in gaming, but what’s next? So one of the things we wanted to do was form a multiyear exclusive partnership with him so that we could explore lots of different things together.” Though, Keighran remains tight-lipped on specifics related to other projects being produced by the rapper.
Drake’s first showing of content is especially interesting as it doesn’t resemble his record breaking Twitch live stream. When the rapper joined Travis Scott, NFL player-turned-gamer JuJu Smith-Schuster, and pro-gamer Tyler “Ninja” Blevins for a round of Fortnight last March, the friendly game quickly turned into a trending twitter topic with 628,000 concurrent viewers, breaking the previous record of 388,000 viewers for a single-player stream. The Caffeine deal serves to further expand live-streaming offerings.
“Other platforms are very heavy in gaming, and Caffeine is really the first place that’s bringing together entertainment and sports,” Keighran says. “It’s a place where the next generation can go online and watch anything from X-Games to Coachella to Fortnight — all in one place where they can hang with friends, interact, and enjoy this whole new experience.”