During a time when almost every interaction is virtual, there is one platform that has made incredible strides to become the ideal media streaming service. Twitch has gradually begun making its climb to becoming one of the most used apps over the past couple of years. Many would assume that Twitch is just another “nerdy” video game streaming platform like Youtube and to some extent that is correct. Yet, the widely popular streaming platform offers a diverse selection of content that is no longer centered around just gaming…
This new generation of Twitch streamers has created an environment that is so unique that many users tune it to watch just about anything. From watching beat battle competitions put on by hit-making producer Kenny Beats to impactful politicians like AOC playing Among Us, Twitch has become a generator for new and engaging content. Twitch is recognized as a game-streaming platform, but as of late personal categories such as “Just Chatting” and “Music” are making their way to the forefront of Twitch’s top trending categories. According to Sullygnome.com, a statistics and analytics service for Twitch, the category “Just Chatting” has had over 2 billion hours watched in the past year. With lockdowns and restrictions to continue throughout the country, the future of in-person events seems to still be up in the air. In an article written by Mariel Soto Reyes for Business Insider, they state, “Twitch may be able to lure more brands to its platform with its rapidly expanding non-gaming content. Non-gaming content was already rising in popularity on Twitch before the pandemic, but the combination of stay-at-home orders and the cancellation of live events has seriously accelerated the trend.” These distinct non-gaming categories are opening the door for people such as DJs, media personalities, and artists to create their own streaming channels to create their own personalized experiences for their audience.
Yet, one of the more interesting trends that are currently rising throughout the platform is the increase of professional athletes starting their own Twitch Channels. As the pandemic took the entire world completely by surprise, many athletes were forced to quarantine in their homes while professional leagues tried to navigate this global issue one day at a time. Now, professional athletes are not so much different from regular working people. They wake up, get dressed, go to work, maybe workout and go back home like every other individual. However, when a global issue such as a pandemic eliminates the option to physically go to work and exercise. The next question that follows is usually, “Now what do I do?” With the future of in-person sporting events still in the air, many athletes turned to video games to distract themselves from the real world. Athletes such as Devin Booker, Juju Smith-Schuster, Josh Hart, and many more turned to live streaming on Twitch to interact with their fans while also keeping themselves occupied.
While in-person sports were put on hold back during the beginning of 2020. Leagues around the country took advantage of the esports platform and began setting up virtual tournaments of their own sports. From the NBA 2K sports tournament hosted on ESPN to EA’s Madden NFL Tournament being put on to help support Covid-19 relief efforts. Twitch and the world of Esports saw a huge growth in supporters when the pandemic started. In our current state revolving around this “new normal”, almost every sports league has figured out a way to adapt to COVID-19 protocols and regulations. Yet, Twitch and the interest surrounding the world of Esports continues to escalate around the world.
Starting the new year in 2021, according to Twitchtracker.com the platform is already averaging around 1.5 million more users than they were this time last year. With over 17 Billion hours streamed last year… yeah that's right, billion with a B. The media streaming service has solidified itself as the primary gaming-media platform for years to come. This not only opens the door for young hopefuls who hope to break into the gaming industry but for athletes who are trying to increase their exposure beyond their normal audience. For example, all-star small forward Gordon Hayward has made himself a name in the Twitch realm. Gordon is a player for the Charlotte Hornets. Yet, when he hops on stream and plays League of Legends (a team-based strategy game) or Valorant he goes by the name Gtimeee or GTiiME. He currently has 82.4k followers on the platform and has expanded his fan base beyond the casual NBA basketball fan. The same can be said for All-NBA team recipient Ben Simmons and NCAA Champion Josh Hart who have made themselves known figures in the Call of Duty Community.
As mentioned previously, Ben Simmons and Josh Hart have become much more than the average Call of Duty streamers on Twitch. Ben who goes by the user name SimmoTheSavage25 currently has 51.7k followers while Josh has gained a little more popularity with 76.5k followers. The two have increased their follower count by collaborating with popular streamers on the app. Josh has collaborated with notable warzone content creators such as Crowder (The Atlanta Faze Coach) and JoshOG (Popular Twitch Streamer). Crowder has around 235k followers while JoshOG has over 1.7 million followers. However, Ben Simmons has worked with perhaps the greatest Esports athlete of all time, Tyler Blevins or better known as Ninja. The gaming phenom Ninja has made himself a name not only on Twitch but in the world of top tier athletes. He currently holds the top spot of being the most followed streamer on the platform with 16.6 million followers. These collaborations are important because it allows for this intersection of both socially recognized sports combined with this new foreign world of streamers and esports. It offers an exciting new perspective from two completely different worlds while at the same time creates appealing fresh content for the viewers who tune in to watch.
We no longer live in an era where becoming a vlogger or gaming for a living is frowned upon in society. Nowadays, kids all across the country are wanting to grow up and become a professional Esports player or a content creator. With the technology and resources that streaming services like Twitch provide it is more than possible for these kids to reach their goals. With that being said, the presence of big-name figures such as Snoop Dogg, Brendon Urie, Steve Aoki, and many more are only encouraging more users to hop on and stream their hobbies.
Twitch’s model as a streaming platform is constantly advancing its technology and is improving its usage every single day. Currently, with over 9 million channels the future of Twitch is more than bright with much more room to grow as an app. Now, more than ever is the perfect time for users to create a twitch channel so that they can expand their audience and create a new sense of community. It’s not Twitter, It’s not Instagram, and it sure isn’t Facebook. Instead, Twitch is in a world of its own and it's positioned to dominate as one of the biggest streaming platforms of all time.