Twitch turns 10 and the creators’ economy is in debt


Justin Kan, of Twitch co-founder, he just wants his favorite chess streamers to notice. “I’m in the chat, like, giving them donations, hoping they’ll say my name and shit,” he tells WIRED. He’s terrible at chess, but he can’t stop watching Andrea and Alexandra Botez play it on Twitch. They haven’t recognized him yet. Hope they do it soon.

Twitch pioneered this: the digital shareholder thing. More specifically, by monetizing it on a large scale. Exactly 10 years ago, on June 6, 2011, Twitch launched Justin.tv, a kind of generic live video streaming site that Kan had founded four years earlier. Kan, who is no longer part of the company, says he and his co-founders have spent years mulling over how to get people to interact online and exchange money. Should they have a chat room in the sidebar? (Yes.) Emote? (Definitely.) Career potential? (Yes.) The ultimate goal wasn’t live video; it was the creative economy. Subscribe to people who do things.

Twitch has many legacies, from the Kappa emote to rapper Drake’s Fortnite streaming with Twitch celebrity Tyler “Ninja” Blevins. Its greatest legacy, however, is paving the way for this immersive world of popular content and playful online entertainment, for both the viewer and the streamer.

In late 2010, Sean “Day9” Plott, a fearsome and charismatic Starcraft II player, he confided to his Justin.tv audience that he is super stressed about college tuition loans. Fans flooded his PayPal account with thousands of dollars within days. Even after the donation campaign, viewers asked him how they could offer more support. When Justin.tv launched Twitch as its gaming-focused arm months later, early employees asked users what kind of functionality they would be interested in. Plott, who had migrated, suggested subscriptions. “This made a lot of sense to me,” he later said InvenGlobal. “Instead of the traditional media model of ‘pay first, consume second’, an opt-in support model allowed everyone to view for free and support if they wanted to.” he could become Twitch’s first partner and a subscribe button would appear on their channel.

Supporting a Twitch streamer wasn’t like buying a Belle and Sebastian CD or even donating a standalone board game to Kickstarter. The streamer was right there, and you were giving them money, and then they would reply to you giving them money, all in real time. A pattern emerged: Give it $ 5 and get a thank you. The sure recognition tickled something in our lizard brains. The first streamers adopted a speech synthesis software that, in the monotone of the computer, read the messages that fans attached to donations. It wasn’t long before “Please say my name out loud!” evolved to “drink bleach, asshole”. The spectators wanted the recognition, but also the reaction. Some streamers with strong stomachs monetized the abuse, like dunk-tank professionals.

“Text-to-speech was a huge breakthrough,” says Kacey “Kaceytron” Caviness, one of the top streamers who has been on the platform since 2013. “It gave the viewer a sense of being part of it, as if they were their thoughts. Listened to. out loud streaming. ”Once, in 2015, Caviness received multiple donations by repeating the lyrics of” Woo Woo Swag “by Lil B. The troll lasted two hours and added up to $ 2,000. Caviness donated everything in charity.

When Twitch launched, the digital patronage model was just entering the mainstream. It preceded Patreon and OnlyFans by two and five years respectively. Webcam sites like LiveJasmin already were to attract So 32 million visitors a month. The main difference with Twitch was its customer-beneficiary relationship. In 2012, Twitch hosted an average of 2,200 simultaneous livestreams for an average 102,000 simultaneous viewers or, to put it another way, 46 times the number of simultaneous viewers of the channels. Since then, that relationship it has been reduced to 25 times the number of viewers on live channels in 2021. (Recently, Twitch watchdog Zach Bussey underlined that, in the spring of 2021, if a streamer attracted more than six viewers, it was in 6.7 percent of Twitch streamers.)

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