How Twitch works
A user can set up a Twitch account to watch their favourite streaming channels, but it is not required. However, to can set up their own channel or participate in comments and other features, users must create an account.
Using Twitch as a viewer
As a viewer, you can watch live gameplay or archived videos by browsing various categories. A Twitch broadcast or stream often includes a video with an audio commentary from the player and the recording of the video game itself.
Users will also see a live chat option where, at times, the streamer can respond — sometimes in the chat or sometimes as they talk. Moreover, users can also talk to other viewers through the chat or via private messages.
Viewers can either follow their favourite streamer for free or subscribe to their channel for a monthly fee.
Using Twitch as a streamer
As a streamer, users create a channel and broadcast live gameplay, esports, music or IRL (in real life) content. IRL is designed for users to share glimpses into their day-to-day life.
Streamers can also earn money from the platform in various ways:
- Charging a subscription fee: Starting at $4.99 USD per month, subscriptions allow viewers to support a channel and see exclusive content. Streamers can charge tiered subscriptions to offer different experiences to users.
- Receiving ‘Bits’: Bits are virtual gifts that viewers can give to streamers during a live stream. When a viewer ‘Cheers’ for the streamer, they share a Bit. The streamer earns $0.01 USD for every Bit in a chat.
- Running ads: Streamers can add breaks to their streams and run ads to earn money. Streamers can customise when the break happens mid-stream, but not all viewers will necessarily see the ad. These ads work similarly to those on YouTube, and the streamer does not control which ads are shown or to whom.
- Getting sponsored: Just like on YouTube and other video-sharing platforms, streamers can get sponsored by third-party companies. This often involves promoting a product for pay, whether they use it or not.
Why is Twitch so popular?
- The gaming community: Gameplay streams offer live commentary, creating a sense of belonging among gamers. Also, a lot of young people watch gameplay streams because they like the video game and can talk to others who do too.
- Potential to earn money: Most streamers broadcast as a hobby, but some have made successful careers from it. Because Amazon acquired Twitch in 2014, the platform is integrated with Amazon Prime. As such, streamers can make money by offering in-stream links through which viewers can purchase streamed games. Other ways streamers can earn money is through ads, subscriptions and Bits.
- Reviews of popular games: The biggest games usually streamed on Twitch are the ones that are most popular. These include Minecraft, Fortnite and Rocket League. Some streamers may get early access to a new game, which they live stream and review for their viewers.