How can publishers use Twitch?

Introduced to public consciousness in 2011, Twitch hurtled to popularity. But how are publishers using the platform and what’s next for Twitch? 

REUTERS/Mike Blake

By Sahar Amer |  Sep 17, 2019

Amazon-owned live streaming video platform, Twitch, is increasing in popularity with publishers such as BuzzFeed, The Washington Post, and Cheddar. Since its introduction in June 2011, Twitch has now more than 15 million daily active users with an average spending 95 minutes per day on the app

In terms of monetization, Twitch allows publishers to make money through a number of different ways: 

  • In-stream ads
  • Subscriptions
  • Merchandise

Although the site is mainly used by it’s 18-34 year old audience for video game live-streaming, it also offers music broadcasts, creative content and talk shows. Twitch has also been a fast growing contender for Facebook Live’s News channel since it’s viewership began to decrease in early 2018.

Who’s publishing on Twitch and what’s working?

As of July 2018, The Washington Post has been running two channels through the platform. One is ‘Live with Libby Casey’ broadcasting live news coverage, and the other is ‘Playing games with politicians’ where interviews are conducted with politicians while they play video games. 

The Washington Post has used Twitch to access a largely untouched group by news media made up of a predominantly young demographic of gamers. Although both Twitch and The Post are owned by Jeff Bezoz, Phoebe Connelly, deputy director of video at The Washington Post makes clear their reason to experiment on the platform was the opportunity for wider audience reach

Screenshot from Washington Post Twitch account: Playing Games with Politicians with Rep. John Delaney
BuzzFeed hasalso been publishing on Twitch through its gaming brand BuzzFeed Multiplayer. In 2018, BuzzFeed originally looked to Twitch as a Facebook Live alternative but have since dedicated their efforts into gaming shows for their now more than 45,000 followers on Twitch. 

Reuters caught up with Branden Smith, Supervising Video Producer at BuzzFeed, to find out more about how they’re experimenting on the platform and what’s working for them so far.

Benefits to knowing what the audience wants

“Twitch is very much a playground of experimentation and as soon as we saw signal that our audience was engaging with content on Twitch, we began exploring the platform,” explains Branden. 

He mentions that Twitch was a great place to meet their audience where they already were engaging with content. “At the time we began experimenting on Twitch, the community and the audience felt much more defined compared to when we live experimented on other platforms”, Branden continues. 

“Since Twitch is a live content platform, the audience has set expectations for the type of content they watch and engage with — we didn’t have to educate the audience on the type of content we were making and it allowed us to experiment with new formats. This was exciting and allowed us to jump in and have fun with it right off the bat.”

On YouTube, BuzzFeed Multiplayer currently produces a horror variety show “Scared Buddies” that airs every Tuesday, and Kelsey Impicciche has a viral show “100 Baby Challenge” every Wednesday which has amassed more than 88 million views throughout the series. 

Offering something extra

While BuzzFeed has been using other live video platforms such as Youtube and Facebook Live, the publisher found another upside to using the Twitch platform. “One of the most useful features is its built-in moderation system, which allows us to determine how long someone must be watching in order to leave a comment, assign top community members with moderation tools, and a powerful automod.” Branden says, “These tools have helped us keep the chat a safe place for our community and allows us to shape what we think aligns with our brand.”

Most of BuzzFeed Multiplayer’s followers have come organically as active viewers on Twitch, with roughly 7,000 coming to the platform from YouTube.

“This is very exciting for us because we are reaching a new audience that is interested in longform live content that is very different from our YouTube audience’s preferred formats. We have roughly a 4% conversion rate of follower to subscriber, we hope to increase this as we roll out more subscriber perks in the future.”

Monetizing through the platform 

BuzzFeed Multiplayer offers paid Twitch subscribers exclusive content for $4.99 monthly- the channel grew its paid audience to more than 2,000 paid subscribers in less than 6 months. In addition, Multiplayer also sells merchandise through Twitch’s website. 

However, Branden explains that Twitch is still fairly new for BuzzFeed, but as they continue to experiment it could open up additional revenue opportunities in the future. “It is not yet a substantial source of revenue on it’s own, but it is a net positive return. As the channel continues to grow, we are experimenting with how Twitch can play a bigger role with the brands overall revenue in the future.” 

What’s next?

In the future, BuzzFeed Multiplayer plans to feature daily programming on Twitch and is currently working on a third weekly show which will be coming out in the next couple of months. 

“As the channel continues to grow, we plan to use a portion of that revenue to re-invest in more shows and explore new formats.” 

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