More Channels Tune in to Twitch

Programmers boot up full-time streams as gaming-focused service diversifies its content slate
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Twitch, the live-streaming platform for the gaming set, has been diversifying and expanding its content, and a growing number of channels are coming along for the ride as they attempt to connect with Twitch’s young audience.

Though Twitch, a service that Amazon acquired in 2014, remains primarily focused on gamers, its recent expansion into full-time streaming channels that hit on adjacent areas also indicate potential as a virtual multichannel video programming distributor.

While Twitch won’t be confused with over-the-top TV services such as Sling TV, DirecTV Now or fuboTV, its content scope has been broadening.

More Than a Dozen Served

At last check, Twitch is home to more than a dozen 24/7 “channels,” including ones run and programmed by Fail Army, The Pet Collective, Shout TV, Baeble, Machinima, IGN, Red Bull TV, Arcade Cloud and Choppertown. Recent additions include Cheddar, the tech and business news service focused on affluent millennials, and Eleven Prime, a new offering from Eleven Sports that features an array of live sporting events, including basketball, baseball and football, as well as darts, drone racing and other sports that it believes have dedicated, underserved fan bases.

Twitch focuses on a gamer-centric audience, but its expansion into more content indicates that “Amazon would like for it to be more,” Brett Sappington, senior director of research at Parks Associates, said.

That is also apparent with Twitch Presents, a promotional offering of sorts that has been used to stream linear marathons for services like Crunchyroll. VRV, the Ellation-owned subscription VOD aggregation service that offers Crunchyroll, has also worked with Twitch Presents to highlight shows from SVOD services such as Mondo and Cartoon Hangover.

Twitch’s content diversification activities are starting to take a new and different tone with the recent additions of Cheddar and Eleven Prime.

“There’s some overlap with the gaming audience [with those services],” Sappington said. “But you don’t necessarily assume that business-minded millennials and gamers are the same crowd.”

Cheddar and Twitch started to come together as Twitch began to think about streaming channels that extend beyond gaming and did see some overlapping interests.

“It seemed like a natural fit,” Cheddar vice president of business development Daniel Schneider said, noting that gaming is a popular content topic for Cheddar viewers, who tend to skew from college-aged adults to those in their 30s.

In addition to reaching the Twitch audience, Schneider said Cheddar finds the interactive capabilities of Twitch’s platform appealing, as viewers can post comments and carry on a conversation alongside the live stream.

Eleven Sports was eager to work with Twitch in part because the company is a risk-taker and feels that Twitch can help it connect with non-traditional TV viewers, Eleven Sports social media and fan engagement manager Amanda White said.

She also talked up the social aspects of the Twitch platform, as it gives Eleven Sports a new way to engage with viewers.

It’s early days, but one aspect that will likely need to be improved is how Twitch surfaces these new 24/7 streaming channels, as that could help to pump up the numbers.

Strong Start for Cheddar

Cheddar, which launched its Twitch channel in January, had generated about 1.64 million views on the platform as of last week, and accumulated just north of 3,000 “followers.” Eleven Prime, introduced on Twitch earlier this month, was approaching 20,000 views and nearly 300 followers.

“It’s at a pretty early stage,” Schneider said. “There’s a lot of learning going on.”

Though there remain things to iron out on how these channels are promoted and surfaced, the proposition for both sides is generally low-risk as they continue this exploration, according to Hunter Sappington, a researcher on the consumer electronics team at Parks Associates.

Awareness will be key to generating viewership on Twitch as it broadens its content focus, he added, but the social media elements of the platform can help in this area.

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