Why Twitch launched a new section for artists and other creative types

Twitch isn’t just for gamers anymore.

The Amazon-owned live streaming video service launched a new landing page dedicated to the arts and other creative interests. The section, titled “Twitch Creative,” has thousands of live and on-demand streams of broadcasters doing activities such as painting, cooking, drawing, photoshop and composing music.

Twitch got the idea to launch the section after seeing these types of non-gaming broadcasts several years ago, said the company’s head of creative Bill Moorier.

“I would see people play two or three games and broadcast them and then after they were done playing, they’d want to stream something else. They’d fire up Photoshop and do some game-related artwork, and viewers would stick around and watch,” said Moorier, who joined Twitch in 2007 (back when it was still Justin.tv) as its second employee.

Now, it’s become a fully formed sub-community. For the past 13 months, time spent watching creative content has grown by 40 percent each month, Moorier said. There are at least 1,000 broadcasters streaming every day, reaching a total of 2 million unique viewers per month.

Granted, that’s a paltry sum compared to Twitch’s overall community, which the company claims is at more than 1.7 million broadcasters and 100 million unique visitors per month across platforms. But it’s significant enough that Twitch felt the community deserved a home base of sorts.

“We just looked at it and saw everything that we saw in the early days of Twitch,” said Moorier. “There were these passionate gamers who really wanted to take a hobby and turn it into a lifestyle or even make a living from it. That’s exactly where Twitch Creative is now.”

Twitch broadcasters can make money by joining the company’s partner program, where its 12,000 partners can run ads or sell subscriptions. In Twitch Creative, some are monetizing broadcasts of artwork they were actually commissioned to make.

While it may be surprising to some that Twitch has non-gaming content, for the company, it’s nothing new. Its predecessor company Justin.tv began in 2007 as a “life-streaming” platform that allowed people to share their day-to-day lives and activities on the Web. When gaming surged in popularity on the platform, the company decided to put its time and attention there. Now, there’s a creative class that also demands a platform.

Twitch Creative features a live player and video carousel that helps different broadcasters get discovered. There’s also a hashtag feature that allows people to search for content by category.

“Twitch’s ethos is community around content,” said Grant Gittlin, chief execution officer at MediaLink. “If you have data on what your community loves, you should operate against it, and they know their community better than anyone. They are running a playbook they have successfully run before.”

There might be opportunities for advertisers within the new creative section. Its launch sponsor is Adobe, which also has its own channel in the section that spotlights artists on the video service. Moorier declined to comment on what kind of exclusivity, if any, Adobe has for the section.

But if there are opportunities for other brands to get on board down the road, they should at least give it a look, said Mark Book, vp, director of Digitas Studios. “We’re looking more and more at scalable niche platforms like Twitch — which is a bit of an oxymoron — but it’s happening more and more,” he said. “We have been monitoring Twitch for a long time for any brands that are about gaming or have ties to gaming, but we are more than open to expanding to other brands if Twitch is successful in converting new and existing loyalists with this new roll-out.”

That might actually be the case. According to Moorier, while Twitch’s audience is primarily male, Twitch Creative content is more evenly balanced, though he declined to share the exact split.

As for what this means for Twitch the company, don’t expect it to dive into new verticals left and right. It branched out into creative content, as artists were a natural extension of gaming.

“Our gaming broadcasters have always needed graphical assets made for them,” Moorier said. “And often those people making those assets have come out of the community itself. It’s not a huge leap then for the people making the assets to broadcast that process.”

Image via Bloomua / Shutterstock.com


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