When Amazon purchased Twitch for $1 billion back in 2014, there was no small degree of scepticism and curiosity emanating from the more cynical segments of the tech journalism world. Sure, we’d seen this kind of money move about before to acquire social media platforms, but Twitch was tiny and niche compared to something like Instagram.
However time has proven to be on the side of Amazon, and the platform they took under their wing has steadily grown to become the global hub and home of the burgeoning esports sector, and a generative social environment with its own unique culture.
The notion of streaming, as it’s understood on Twitch, was born out of pragmatism. A conventional Twitch game stream consists of a video stream of live gaming content, a smaller window or overlay feed of the streamer, at a chat room full of spectators.
However this form has established itself beyond the confines of gaming, and is now used for everything from hosting quizzes to conducting debates on political discourse. This space is fast evolving, but one thing’s for sure – wider pop culture has sat up and taken notice. Let’s look at some key examples of this phenomenon below.
Extra Connection and Excitement
Many sectors have found in the now commonplace streaming format the perfect means of injecting greater connection, immersion and collaboration into their offerings. This is precisely the case of the iGaming industry. Never one to shy away from the latest tech trends, this industry has made strides in recent years towards embracing streamer culture with their selection of live casino games and associated shows.
These are precisely as they sound – it’s almost as if you’ve stepped into your own game show. In the basic sense, these take the form of live human dealers who facilitate your game alongside other players. They’re responsible for calling plays, declaring winners, and stoking up a sense of excitement and inclusion for all involved.
In general, the nature and tone of our social media interactions are trending towards greater interpersonal connection – whether that’s Facebook posts versus TikToks, or simple casual one player games versus live dealer gameshow experiences.
Suffice to say, we can reasonably assume that this type of thing will grow more popular across the board, especially with the imminent arrival of VR and the metaverse in the coming years.
Legacy Sporting Bodies Waking Up
Major sports franchises, from ESPN to Juventus FC, have in recent years taken steps to establish a presence on Twitch. Such brands have identified the potential for them to diversify their offerings by establishing a foothold in the burgeoning esports-streaming space.
Juventus, more than most, has taken its work at Twitch to heart by offering La Vecchia Signora fans the ability to watch games alongside their commentators. Back in 2020, to help launch their channel, Juventus even hosted a competition to find their club’s superfan, with the prize for the lucky winner being to become a presenter on the channel.
Platforms like Twitch operate in a licensing grey area, and this has made them a popular place for people to watch classic sporting events together without creating regulatory issues. Another soccer team, the premier league side Arsenal, has embraced this fact by turning their Twitch channel into a veritable archive of The Gunners’ greatest feats.
Leaning in to Esports
There’s no escaping the fact that Twitch is, for most people, irrevocably tied to the esports community. Ultimately, this has been a significant blessing for the sector which has done much as part of its recent boom times to bring in new spectators and players.
By having a particular media format so closely associated with esports, the two have come to feed and grow off one another to the extent that now, even Twitch streamers who do not produce esports content are benefitting from its global development.