Tampa Bay Lightning forward JT Brown wears two types of jerseys. One is white and deep blue with the signature bolt on it, and the other is white and black with a “JTB 23” logo nestled at the top.
Gaming itself is popular in hockey, with at least six of Brown’s teammates picking up a controller or two in their free time. But unlike his teammates, Brown streams his sessions through the Twitch streaming service and has even partnered with the popular platform to make money from his hobby turned side job. Brown will donate revenue to the NHL’s Hockey Is For Everyone and plans on matching the initial donation. Brown’s Twitch streams consist of the gaming screen plus an overlay with Brown’s social media information and video footage of Brown’s head, and often the head of his brother Sieed.
“The biggest thing is it’s for charity,” Brown said. “This is something I definitely believe in. I believe that Hockey Is For Everyone is a great charity to work with and it just fits so well with what I feel like I stand for and they stand for as well.”
Gaming skill comes naturally to Brown but having people watch him play was something that took some getting used to. “It was fun. I was a little nervous, it was a little different,” Brown said. “Obviously it’s funny because you can play in front of 20,000 people but you have a hundred watching you play video games and you’re nervous. it was definitely something different and I just thought it was a cool new way to interact with the fans on a different level.”
The medium offers Brown another channel to bond with Lightning and hockey fans, providing a relaxed forum sans hockey talk. The live element provides a different interaction from social media or interviews, which can feature generic questions and answers.
On Twitch, the conversations are impromptu, lively and not hockey centered. One recurring conversation, Brown said, revolves around if dogs have armpits or leg pits.
“Some say that they still are considered armpits, and [some say] leg pits and I don’t know, it’s a funny conversation,” Brown said.
Sessions last for normally three hours and have so far featured NHL, Battlefield and 7 Days to Die. In the offseason he streamed at least once–if not twice–per week and evem had fellow Lightning forward Tyler Johnson on for a guest appearance. For the future, he hopes to bring on teammates Cedric Paquette and Vladislav Namestnikov.
“I don’t know if I foresee them switching over and doing it on their own, but I can see them coming on as a guest appearance on a few [streams],” Brown said.
When Brown first started on Twitch, he streamed games from his Xbox and monitored his phone for chat messages. Now he has his computer hooked up to another monitor to watch the chat and overlays and slides. Brown even scoured YouTube for ways to enhance the experience through slides and overlays. He asked questions and received help from those experts.
“There’s just so much going on at one time between switching slides, making sure everything’s all set up because I probably have four different programs that I run every stream just to make sure everything’s going,” Brown said. “I’m constantly tweaking things because the stream didn’t work right. Now I got to figure out because it’s been a long time since I used a PC so trying to switch over to that has been a little bit of a struggle. But then again every step of the way I’ve had people been able to help me, walk me through every satiation.”
The extra effort isn’t needed, but anything less than best is unheard of to Brown.
“If I’m going to do something, I want to do it the best way I can and put out the best quality stream,” Brown said. “For me to know that there were these different options were you don’t have to create all these overlays or create these all these different timers and intro videos and doing that sort of thing is not necessary, but I wanted to do the best and give those who are taking the time to come out and actually watch the stream, give them the best quality production.”
Brown is so committed to providing his fans with a first-class experience that, even with the unpredictability of a newborn baby and the NHL schedule, he is committed to producing quality content. While Brown hopes to stream regularly, he will provide video content to his channel to keep fans up to date. For now, Brown’s channel caters mostly to fellow hockey fans, but he hopes to expand his base to other, more avid gaming fans. He knows it will take time.
The goal is to raise $5,000 from the Twitch partnership to donate to Hockey Is For Everyone. When all is finished, Brown hopes to have $10,000 for the charity. Brown has previously donated to Civil Rights causes as he gave $1,500 to help remove a Confederate statue from Tampa.
“I mean especially those who were subscribing, they enjoyed that,” Brown said. “It’s going to a great cause and I think that helps out as well. With people coming to watch, we just finally set up [separate] donations as well because people wanted to donate beyond just a subscription to my channel. Everyone has been really great about it.”