Twitch Makes a Bigger Play to Become All-Purpose Streamer

The live-streaming gaming platform Twitch is hugely popular but has a goal to get even bigger. At the annual TwitchCon event, the company showed off an advertising campaign promoting itself as an all-purpose live-streaming platform. This move takes place just as the site’s biggest star, Tyler “Ninja” Blevins, defected to Mixer, a rival streaming service owned by Microsoft. On the gaming front, the company also faces competition from Caffeine, a social broadcast platform that received $100 million from 21st Century Fox.

The New York Times reports that Twitch chief operating office Sara Clemens described the move not as a “migration away from gaming,” but rather growth to serve “the new talent developing and the new types of content that they want to broadcast.”

“We’re seeing now that some of these streamers who have been doing this for a decade are thinking about new ways to express themselves,” she explained.

The advertising campaign — “You’re already one of us” — shows the potential versatility of the streaming platform. The push has produced results. According to StreamElements, “more people watch live streams on Twitch than anywhere else,” which boils down to 2.7 billion hours in the last three months, versus 735 million hours on YouTube and almost 200 million hours on Facebook Gaming.

Twitch has had some problems with violent, pornographic and copyrighted material slipping past moderators. Clemens said the company has doubled the number of moderators, and emphasized the goal for the platform to be “the safest and most welcoming place for all communities.” Its Twitch Creative platform, which debuted in 2015, has been replaced by I.R.L., with 10 categories, and a live science fiction series, “Artificial,” won an Emmy for outstanding innovation in interactive media. Twitch also has agreements with the National Football League, the National Basketball Association, wrestling and women’s hockey to stream games.

According to Wired, Twitch has also become a platform for live coding streams, in which viewers can ask the coder questions in real time. “Live coding on Twitch is a great way to learn to code and present in front of others, especially for those of us who grew up shy or self-conscious,” said live code streamer Allison Day. “You learn pretty quickly not to be so self-conscious, and that most of your viewers are really rooting for you.”

Twitch chat creates community for solitary programmers. “I love helping out people who want to learn to code, and having that opportunity for live conversation with anyone around the world allows them to ask questions, and me to go more in-depth when there’s a topic that people are curious or confused about,” said Day.

Twitch now lists 300+ live coding streamers and includes professionals such as Microsoft’s Jeff Fritz. “I almost see myself as the Bill Nye for the Twitch generation,” he said. “I want to be that friendly face that people can ask technical questions and I’ll answer them.”