We Asked Twitch What They’re Doing To Retain Streamers

We Asked Twitch What They’re Doing To Retain Streamers

It’s no secret that Twitch streaming is a tough gig, with many content creators putting in long hours to get their big break on the livestreaming service. But despite Twitch having millions of streamers (and millions more viewers), streamers are finding themselves spoilt for choice as more competitors like Kick crop up with tantalising offers of high-value contracts, new features, and different revenue share models

So, what is Twitch doing to draw more streamers in, and how are they working to retain big names as livestreaming services begin to saturate the internet even further? Kotaku Australia sat down with Chief Product Officer Tom Verrilli at TwitchCon Paris to find out more about just what Twitch has planned to ensure streamers are engaged and supported in their content creation journey.

This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.

Twitchcon paris
Image: Twitch

Kotaku AU: What kind of features are being introduced to make Twitch a safer and more enjoyable space for streamers?

Tom Verrilli: For us, safety is growth…somebody who is ruining the vibe is actually genuinely damaging the channel. And so, for us, it’s not an afterthought or a nice-to-have moment, it’s like a hardcore requirement. We have two layers of safety; we have site-level safety…and at the channel level, every streamer actually has their own needs to kind of curate and change what’s going on. We think that safety is absolutely not one size fits all, and that every channel has that kind of responsibility. 

One of the other things that we know really well is that streamers tend to network, and that they have groups they can leverage – they’re not just an AI that’s learning what’s acceptable for the community. You can now choose to share your mod notes and ban lists, and work together on those. [We’re always asking] how can we balance your freedoms as a streamer and channel level safety with site level safety, to make sure that we can kind of prevent bad behaviour from proliferating?

Kotaku AU: There’s a lot of long-term established streamers that have sizable communities that are growing day by day. What’s being done to keep them engaged and supported in their content creation journey to keep them on Twitch as opposed to any other service?

TV: If I think about the people who want to be full-time streamers at the highest level, they all want three things. Fame, love, and money. Those are the three drivers. So, the first thing we have to do is ask ourselves the question: How can we maximise those three things for everyone? Discoverability and reach. We’ve talked a lot about the various features we want to build for that.

One of the things that some of our more established streamers do express over time is that they’ve been doing this full-time and want to keep expanding and trying new and different things. How do we take the pressure off them for content creation? Guest Star is a really good example of that, where you can use your community as an impetus for content creation. If you think about late-night comedy, they have a room of 20 writers who spend all day coming up with five minutes of jokes for you, a streamer doesn’t have any of that support. Take a look at the offline content that we debuted with both Discovery Feed and stories. The belief has been that in order to grow on Twitch, you have to be streaming all the time, right? I think that contributes to the feeling that, over time, people want to do something different because you’re doing so much of one thing that it becomes overwhelming. These are a really easy way to lower that burden and prevent people from feeling like they do need to get burnt out or change their content and what they’re doing. 

Tom Verrilli Twitch
Image: Tom Verrilli

Kotaku AU: As these different services crop up that do offer streaming capabilities, what sets Twitch apart from those competitors, and what makes Twitch the best place to stream?

TV: At its core, the thing that makes Twitch the best place to stream is the community that is here. Twitch chat is different to every other chat that exists in the world, and that’s because the culture that exists on each channel and around the Twitch community is distinct and unique. I truly believe that Twitch pioneered the kind of recognition and reward loop that exists in live streaming; when I show up, a streamer recognizes me and says hello, and that makes the streamer less lonely. But when I contribute to the stream, either with good chat, subs, bits and the alerts, I genuinely feel like the streamer sees me and recognizes my contribution to that channel.  

The real question is, who can provide the best place for somebody to home to house their community? I’m going to put content all over the shop, that’s the reality of the modern ecosystem. But where do I want to recognize the relationship with my supporters? I truly think that a live environment is the best place to do that. 

Kotaku AU: While retaining established streamers and communities is important, fresh faces are equally vital to the longevity of Twitch. What features or products is Twitch creating, or hoping to introduce, to actually draw new people into streaming?

Image: Twitch

TV: In the last 12 months, we’ve had more than 10 million people take up streaming for the first time. Inspiration really contributes to that. When I see someone doing amazing things, I want to do that. For example, the current generation of Fortnite streamers who have become big stars are the same people who were watching Ninja and Drake in that iconic stream. I’m already excited by the streamers that will be inspired by the content that’s being made today.

One of the shifts that you’ve probably seen as a Twitch viewer over the last five years is discovery on Twitch used to be solely by viewcount. It’s predominantly not anymore, and that’s an important shift. A nice thing about Twitch is the format and the meta changes with new games. So as different games emerge, different streamers get different opportunities, because their particular talents and their particular kind of content type suits different formats. I adamantly believe that somebody will explode because of the discovery feed.

I think the stories format is uniquely interesting here too. As a subscriber, I have an understanding of the memes in the community already. I can actually stay very emotionally current and connected to streaming without having to watch hours a day. But when I lose that and come back a month later, it can feel really hard to reconnect. So when people start something new or when people grow, they’re going to have these moments. I want to believe that we can get to a place where people have those moments and get to hang on to all that growth. 

Image: Twitch

Kotaku AU: You work closely with the streamers and content creators that are on Twitch, are there any pain points that they’ve identified from streaming and content creation that they’ve flagged with you that you’re looking to fix currently?

TV: I ardently believe that there’s two responsibilities for us; one, to help you earn more, both reach and dollars, and two, how do we get there where you don’t have to put in as much work for the same outcome?

I think it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that we say great streamers have the capacity to take their content and put it out across lots of different services. But if I finish a seven-hour live stream, then I have to go and spend up to two hours breaking down my content, opening up Photoshop and editing it into all the various formats, putting that across onto my phone, and uploading it, a six-hour live stream just became a 12-hour workday. And then the dollar per hour feels really bad. Talent and hard work is a prerequisite to be successful. I think that’s true. I think people have underestimated the efforts and talent required to be a successful content creator. But I also think we can make it easier.                                                                                                                                         

The author of this article travelled to TwitchCon Paris as a guest of Twitch.

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