Cable News Would Kill For This Network's 100 Million Viewers. What Makes Twitch Fans Tick?

May 18, 2015 • Blog Post • By Quartz Creative

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With 16 billion minutes watched and more than 11 million videos streamed each month by 100 million monthly active viewers, Twitch is the world's largest broadcast platform for social video by gamers

Matthew DiPietro is VP of Marketing and Communications at Twitch, the world's largest broadcast platform in gaming. The network has surpassed many major cable networks in sheer numbers, with 16 billion minutes watched and over 11 million videos streamed each month. Most people consume Twitch's 1.5 million channels through their computer, smartphone, Xbox, or streaming stick, such as Google Chromecast. Last year the company launched the Twitch Store, allowing the most popular broadcasters to produce and sell their own merchandise right on the platform.

What exactly are 100 million people doing on Twitch each month?

Twitch is a social video platform for gamers. Its essentially a way to broadcast live video of your gameplay so that you can interact with your friends, your fans, and your community around the game itself. That's about as concise as I can make it in two sentences.

How is consuming Twitch video any different from regular cable TV?

Twitch is a very different thing for several reasons. First, its live—almost entirely. [And] it's a community experience to be had in a very social kind of a format: youre going up to watch a particular broadcaster, you have a very intimate relationship with that broadcaster and with the community youre watching with. Along with the video, there's a chat experience. You're watching the video program, and you're chatting with the community. The community is chatting with you, and you can call out the broadcaster in the chat, and the broadcaster can respond to your question or your comments. Its a very different thing than a sit-back-and-flip-through-channels-on-a-television experience.

So, how is it different from the "second screen" experience you can have watching TV and tweeting? Or posting to Facebook?

To put it in a very crude analogy, imagine if you were watching Oprah and you could comment to Oprah and Oprah could respond to you on the television. In a very crude way, but at a huge, huge scale. To put the numbers in perspective, Twitch has about one and a half million broadcasters every month. So that's 1.5 million people that are creating content every month. Out of those 1.5 million unique broadcasters, we have somewhere around 100 million unique viewers who come to watch that content. The scale of this is enormous. It's almost as if you had an interactive cable network with 1.5 million channels and 100 million viewers, all of which is centered around a social community experience, which creates this phenomenal critical mass of interactions and social connections.

How is consuming Twitch video any different from regular cable TV?

Twitch is a very different thing for several reasons. First, its live—almost entirely. [And] it's a community experience to be had in a very social kind of a format: youre going up to watch a particular broadcaster, you have a very intimate relationship with that broadcaster and with the community youre watching with. Along with the video, there's a chat experience. You're watching the video program, and you're chatting with the community. The community is chatting with you, and you can call out the broadcaster in the chat, and the broadcaster can respond to your question or your comments. Its a very different thing than a sit-back-and-flip-through-channels-on-a-television experience.

So, how is it different from the "second screen" experience you can have watching TV and tweeting? Or posting to Facebook?

To put it in a very crude analogy, imagine if you were watching Oprah and you could comment to Oprah and Oprah could respond to you on the television. In a very crude way, but at a huge, huge scale. To put the numbers in perspective, Twitch has about one and a half million broadcasters every month. So that's 1.5 million people that are creating content every month. Out of those 1.5 million unique broadcasters, we have somewhere around 100 million unique viewers who come to watch that content. The scale of this is enormous. It's almost as if you had an interactive cable network with 1.5 million channels and 100 million viewers, all of which is centered around a social community experience, which creates this phenomenal critical mass of interactions and social connections.

Out of that 1.5 million, how many are making money, and do they make money through Twitch or somewhere else?

There are about 10,000 members of the Twitch Partner Program. These are folks that are sort of the really elite broadcasters out of that 1.5 million—these are the folks with the biggest audience, the best content, the most interactive experience. And they all get a check from Twitch every month based on a revenue share [via] advertising revenue driven through their channel, and also the subscription revenue theyre able to sell on their channels. We allow our partners to sell channel-specific subscriptions usually for $4.99 a month, and we share that revenue with them.

Is Twitch just for video games?

There are some tangential content categories that we are currently exploring, for example, things like poker, which might not be immediately recognizable as a video game, but actually does have a substantial video game presence in the world. Weve been exploring some early experiments in music as well, simply because music is a central component of the game experience as well.

How big can this get?

There are a couple of possibilities. One is that social interactive type video experiences will indeed eclipse traditional television. Another is that the overall piece of pie in terms of media consumption habits will simply grow, so that social video experiences will be in addition to traditional television cable broadcast experiences.

What's the most counterintuitive facet of Twitch's success?

There is a trend right now in which were seeing consumers come to desire appointment viewing. They have a desire for the community experience that used to be had through live television experiences. I'm old enough to remember that the Who Shot JR? episode [of Dallas] was a massive American phenomenon. Today what we're seeing is most people are consuming content in an on-demand format, so you sit and you binge watch hours and hours and hours of Game of Thrones, probably in isolation. Part of the reason that Twitch is so compelling is that it brings back that community experience.

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