Many stories about Twitch revolve around celebrities, the influencers and tastemakers who have "made it" to a career of all-day gameplay streaming. But Twitch isn't just star gamers; it's pirate streams, bizarre Tim and Eric-style broadcasts, and average Joes just streaming their Overwatch matches. Many do so without anyone watching. LonelyStreams is the best tool to find them.
LonelyStreams is a simple website that aggregates and displays Twitch streams that have zero viewers. The idea is to direct a willing audience to join in broadcasts that aren't gaining traction. Its credo sits at the bottom of the landing page:
At any given point in time there are about 3000 livestreams on twitch alone with 0 viewers. Most of the creators are making great efforts of setting everything up and making sure their stream runs properly. It's a shame that nobody is watching. So feel free so browse around and appreciate their hard work.
I've spent a good deal of the last day or so flipping between different streams with no one watching. Some people had banners, overlays, good mics, and a solid stream of uninterrupted gameplay and commentary. Others had mild hiccups; maybe their gameplay audio was too low, or they just weren't interacting at with the camera.
Over the course of a couple hours on the site, I'd found a high-level Splatoon player, a handful of engaging Fortnite streamers, and one dude bravely streaming his Rocksmith practice, something I would never have the courage to do. Some seemed to be aiming for an audience, and others seemed content to just share their screen and thoughts with whoever might wander into the stream.
It was a nice reminder of the open forum that a streaming site can provide, where just about anyone can hop on and play host or entertainer to a few spectators.
This was a pretty cool, albeit hitching, stream of a 3D printer at work. It was hypnotic to watch.
But in seeking out the diamonds in the rough, you exhume everything that comes with it. So while your initial visit might bring you to an unappreciated gem of a streamer, you might also stumble across the odds and ends of low-view Twitch.
One of my first finds was a guy with a darkened face-cam, who was bouncing between looking at graphics card specs and watching a YouTube video of a dude trying to light a mason jar of jet fuel with a match.
About ten seconds after I snapped this, the dude stuck a Windex bottlehead in the jar and made a flamethrower.
Some streams were really unique ideas, like 3D printings-in-progress streamed from multiple angles. I got a few Kotakuans to join me in watching a live cam of a bird farm. (We sadly did not see any birds.)
There were also, of course, pirate streams. One advertised gameplay of the spaceship battle simulator Dreadnought, only to actually be a free stream of the Disney and Marvel movie Iron Man. Oddly, there was still a hint of an overlay and follower interaction.
And some were just constant music channels like you would find stuffed into a bad cable package, streaming constant "beats" for viewers to listen to.
Others were various re-streams of popular shows, random IRL streamers, or local community channels. There was a stream of a rabbi discussing various questions from unseen audience members about Rosh Hashanah, which was pretty educational for me. I even found a World Cup re-stream!
LonelyStreams endeavours to drive traffic to those struggling to find it, but in practice, it's also a bizarre look into the world of open video streaming. All that anyone really needs to stream on Twitch is a computer and one of the various capture programs, like OBS or Fraps.
If there are really thousands of unviewed streams hiding in the tall grass, it stands to reason that for the dozens of Fortnite players streaming, there's plenty of weird shit in there too. And LonelyStreams gives me the perfect sieve to find them.