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Twitch CEO Emmett Shear made a handful of announcements at the keynote during TwitchCon’s Opening Ceremony last weekend, and the general theme for changes coming to the platform was “quality of life.”
While Shear discussed many changes that are coming to Twitch, a vast majority of the announcements on Friday night were focused on improving the experience that dedicated have when using the platform as a means to make a living.
Though some announcements were bigger than others, changes in small details to the streaming platform like enhancements made to the creator dashboard and channel pages for broadcasters showed that Shear’s company is making an attempt to focus its operations on supporting the entrepreneurs who help define Twitch’s success.
Additionally, Shear explained that even Twitch’s rebrand and website redesign, which came just before the convention, are geared toward putting an emphasis on broadcast personalities themselves instead of the platform as an entity.
Here’s a list of some of the most significant announcements made at TwitchCon and how they could impact the marketplace for livestreaming as well as gaming.
During the Opening Ceremony, Twitch’s system of operations was compared to giving a broadcaster a bowl of cereal and telling them to bring their own spoon. In the metaphor, the tasty bowl of cereal is Twitch as a live streaming platform, and the spoon that isn’t provided by the platform is the broadcasting software that’s required in order to livestream.
Until now, people who wanted to broadcast on Twitch needed to use third-party applications in order to set up a live stream on Twitch. For Twitch users, there are many options that require people to pay money, but some are free as well.
Twitch currently suggests that streamers who are looking to begin broadcasting on the platform use one of five broadcasting softwares that are linked in a special “Streaming Tools” section of its creator dashboard. Among those applications is Player.me, Streamlabs OBS, XSplit Broadcaster, Open Broadcaster Software, and OBS.Live (which is a part of StreamElements’ OBS Studio).
However, using these third-party resources creates logistical complications for streamers and adds another variable to the streaming process that is already difficult for some.
So as a way to try to address how complicated streaming can be, Twitch announced that it is working on creating its own broadcasting software for streamers who don’t want to go through the extra steps required to stream.
While this might seem like a no-brainer for Twitch, the ramifications of having its own in-house broadcasting software could have an effect on a growing market of companies like StreamElements and Streamlabs.
In just the past month, Logitech entered an agreement to acquire Streamlabs, and in January, StreamElements closed on an $11.3M round of funding. Additionally, earlier in the summer Facebook Gaming integrated StreamElements into its livestreaming tools.
Though it is yet to be seen how well Twitch’s broadcasting software will perform as a final product, it currently represents the potential for lost business to many companies that rely heavily on selling their broadcasting software.
Beginning in January, broadcasters will be able to reward viewers of their channel with incentives that are based on non-monetary contributions through the use of channel points.
By watching a channel and participating in chat, viewers will be able to earn points that can be redeemed for things like channel-specific emotes without needing to pay for a subscription or donate money to the stream they watch.
The premise behind this change is that many active Twitch viewers do not pay for subscriptions or donate to streamers regularly. This feature was added as a way to appeal to viewers who may not have the expendable income to contribute to a streamer.
Earlier this year, Mixer announced that it was implementing a similar feature called “Channel Progression,” which served as a similar type of reward system for viewers. The reward system was a way that Mixer looked to try to differentiate itself from other platforms.
Twitch’s implementation of this new reward system appears to be its way of challenging the features of its competitors in an attempt to continue its prominence as the most popular gaming-endemic live streaming platform.
Following Tyler “Ninja” Blevins’ exit from Twitch to stream exclusively on Microsoft’s streaming platform Mixer, the abundance of announcements at TwitchCon showed the company’s awareness that keeping its base of broadcasters satisfied is immensely important to Twitch as a brand.
Adding updates to the way content creators can interact with and use video advertisements on their page, and making it so that Twitch viewers can subscribe to channels via mobile apps, serve as just a few examples of small details Twitch is attempting to address.
Blevins leaving Twitch came as a shock to many, but more importantly, it served to represent the fact that Twitch does not have a pure monopoly on influencer-based livestreaming. As competitors like Mixer continue to emerge and develop their own base of broadcasters, it will be up to Twitch to address the feedback of its own streamers and continually innovate as it tries to maintain its market share.
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