It's not just for gamers.
ByMatt Binder on
Everything you need to know about Twitch.Credit: Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto via Getty Images
You already do your online shopping on Amazon. You're watching the latest movies on Prime Video. You're asking Alexa to play your favorite songs.
Amazon has already seeped into every facet of your digital life. But... are you watching your favorite streamers on Twitch?
If you're unfamiliar with Twitch, you may have at least heard of it.
As you can probably guess, Twitch is owned by Amazon. The ecommerce giant acquired Twitch in 2014 for $970 million. If you're an old-timer on the internet, you may have heard of its predecessor, Justin.TV, which was an early live streaming platform. The founders of that earlier iteration of what's now known as Twitch saw how popular livestreaming was with the game community. Thus, Twitch was born.
If you only know one thing about Twitch from passing chatter, it's that it is incredibly popular within the video game community. But over the years, Twitch has found more general audiences – both within other niche communities and the mainstream – which has transformed it into much more than a platform for gamers.
Here's everything you need to know about Twitch.
More than 30 million daily visitors watch some of the 7 million content creators who stream on Twitch each month, according to the Amazon-owned company. YouTube, the Google-owned video behemoth, is Twitch's biggest competitor. But while there is some overlap, the two platforms are quite different.
Twitch is a livestreaming platform. While YouTube does offer livestreaming features, most creators make pre-produced videos and upload them to the service. Conversely, some Twitch creators do upload videos, but the vast majority of them are streaming live.
Like I mentioned earlier, Twitch is known for its gaming streams. But as the platform gained in popularity, other creators joined too. Streams featuring political debates, musical performances, and general hangouts with creators can all be found on Twitch.
The platform for viewers
Twitch can be a little overwhelming for new users, but let's break it down.
Find something to watch on Twitch.Credit: mashable screenshot
Upon arriving at Twitch.tv, users are welcomed by a few video feeds from channels that are currently live. To look for specific content, click Browse and you can filter through channels based on what video game the streamer is playing. Non-gaming content is sorted into more general categories like "Sports" and "Politics," but most creators who aren't gaming just stream under the "Just Chatting" category.
Once you find a creator you like, you'll be taken to their Twitch channel to watch them stream.
In the middle of the screen you'll find the currently live video followed by the channel's details with information about the stream, social media links, and ways to support the creator.
On the left hand side, Twitch recommends other channels it thinks you'll like based on your history alongside Twitch channels frequented by the fans of the channel you're currently watching. And on the right, you'll find the live chat.
If you like a streamer and want to be notified when they go live, the terminology on Twitch can be confusing if you're a YouTube regular. "Subscribe" on Twitch is actually a paid subscription to that channel. If you're looking to stay up-to-date with a streamer without becoming a paid member, you'll want to click the "Follow" button.
Watching a Twitch livestream.Credit: mashable screenshot
But let's say you do want to provide monetary support to a creator! Then you are looking for "Subscribe." Subscriptions start at $4.99 on Twitch and come with bonuses such as ad-free viewing, subscriber-only badges, and special emoji-like icons called emotes which can be used in the live chat. You can also support a creator and spread the benefits to other users by gifting paid subscriptions.
Are you an Amazon Prime subscriber? Then here's where some benefits come in that might surprise you! Just connect your Amazon Prime account to your Twitch account and you'll receive access to bonus in-game content for new games every month. Plus, each month you can subscribe to one of your favorite streamers at no additional cost, yet they'll still get paid $4.99 for your complimentary membership.
Twitch also provides the option to financially support your favorite creators via Bits. These are essentially one-time donations that viewers can give creators during a livestream to show their support. Each bit amounts to roughly a penny given to a creator.
Anyone can stream on Twitch. Just set-up an account, launch your channel, and go live.
However, much like YouTube, streamers can also get paid for their content. So, if you're a creator who wants to make money from any of the aforementioned monetized features, here's what you need to do to become either a Twitch Affiliate or Partner.
To become a Twitch Affiliate, you need to stream at least 7 times for a total of 500 minutes, averaging no less than 3 concurrent viewers, within a 30 day period. You also need at least 50 users following your channel.
This is by far the easiest way to get your Twitch channel monetized.
It's a bit more difficult to become a Twitch Partner. Creators need to stream at least 12 times for a total of 25 hours and average 75 viewers per stream. Once you do that, you can apply for consideration to be accepted into the Twitch Partner Program. Partners receive additional streaming options over Affiliates. Most notable, Twitch saves their streams for two months for video-on-demand viewing as opposed to the usual 14 days.
SEE ALSO: The best streaming sites for movies
One extremely interesting feature that Twitch provides its creators has also recently become one of its more controversial: Raids.
When a Twitch creator is wrapping up their stream, they have the ability to send all of their current viewers to a live stream of their choice. Sounds cool, right? It is, yet unfortunately, some users are utilizing raids in bad faith. Twitch streamers have gone so far as to protest Twitch's inaction over the proliferation of "hate raids," when a streamer sends their viewers to raid a channel in order to spread hateful messages and ruin the live chat.
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Twitch is the most popular live streaming website in the world, with over 140 million monthly active users as of July 2023. Twitch was founded by a couple of Yale graduates in 2011 and quickly grew in popularity before being purchased by Amazon in 2014. Twitch is primarily known for its video game content.What you need to know about streaming on Twitch? ›
What do you need to stream on Twitch? The absolute minimum for live streaming on Twitch is a Twitch account and a device to stream from. If you stream from a PC and not the Twitch app, then you'll also need live streaming software such as Restream Studio.What is the streaming platform Twitch? ›
Twitch is an American video live streaming service that focuses on video game live streaming, including broadcasts of esports competitions, in addition to offering music broadcasts, creative content, and "in real life" streams. Twitch is operated by Twitch Interactive, a subsidiary of Amazon.com, Inc.Why is Twitch the best streaming platform? ›
Twitch has a bigger audience, a more professional platform, a more powerful infrastructure, and the majority share when it comes to gaming and esports broadcasts. It's still the top-tier platform for those looking to become a streamer, and it's a familiar and comfortable presence in the industry.Is Twitch the most used streaming platform? ›
Twitch is the largest online video game streaming service and is valued at about $6 billion dollars.What is Twitch and how it works? ›
Twitch is a video-streaming platform that offers a fun, social way to watch people play games. Through the Twitch app (and online at Twitch.tv), gamers who broadcast their matches (known as streamers) play their favorite titles while providing running commentary on the action.What is unique about Twitch? ›
What Makes Twitch Unique? Unlike other live streaming services, Twitch offers a real-time interactive chat experience to make it a social platform. This level of interaction through each live stream is how popular Twitch streamers have managed to build up highly-engaged audiences.Why do people use Twitch? ›
What is Twitch Used For? Twitch is mainly a platform for gamers to watch and perform live play-throughs and commentary. However, there are other programs such as talk shows, cooking shows, sporting events, and gaming conventions that also pop up on the site.How do I prepare to be a Twitch streamer? ›
- Establish yourself with goals and objectives. ...
- Know your audience. ...
- Choose your game wisely. ...
- Invest in quality equipment. ...
- Plan your streams ahead of time. ...
- Interact with your audience frequently. ...
- Promote yourself outside of Twitch. ...
- Collaborate with other streamers.
Bottom Line: Is Being a Twitch Streamer Worth It? That is entirely up to you! If you are willing to put in a lot of additional work outside of simply playing games and can accept that you may not make a living wage overnight, then you should go for it. Making money on Twitch is not easy, but it's achievable.
Anyone can be a streamer and earn money through donations and merchandise sales. Once you have more than 50 followers and meet other requirements, you can become an affiliate and earn cash from subscriptions, Twitch bits, and brand deals. As a partner, you can boost your earnings even more with ad revenue.What do Twitch streamers usually do? ›
The best Twitch streamers make a living through a combination of small payments called Bits, paid subscriptions, donations, and influencer marketing. If you look at any Twitch influencer's channel, you will see a variety of ads, affiliate sales, and sponsorships.