Beyond Gaming: The rise of non-gaming content
Ever since Twitch was born as Justin.tv in 2007 it has been the go-to platform for gamers to showcase their skills and entertain audiences worldwide. It is definitely one of the best video game streaming platforms you can find today. It is so good that, on average, there are 2.45 million people watching streaming on the platform at any given time in 2023.
But why settle for being the best gaming streaming platform when there’s the potential to be the best non-gaming platform as well? The winds of change are blowing and we’re feeling the chills. We’re witnessing a recent and remarkable shift towards non-gaming content, such as art, music, cooking and more. Many Twitch users have already taken the initiative to start streaming in these categories, and we feel it’s only a matter of time before these topics become a second pillar of the platform.
The When, The Why and the How
It’s fair to say the growth happened organically. Unfortunately, we don’t have to look far to imagine the scenario. It’s 2020 and we’ve just been quarantined. Everything got cancelled. Families needed to stay home and meeting up with friends in person was no longer possible. So, how were we to connect? How could we be entertained?
Whether you were a musician wanting to showcase your latest work or someone soughting for alternative forms of entertainment and ways to connect with others, we all instinctively turned our attention to the same solution: Twitch. So in a relatively short span of time, there was a surge of interest in Twitch and other live-streaming platforms, where people could engage with various types of content and connect with other humans beyond gaming.
Twitch served as a valuable tool during a challenging period, allowing industries such as music and sports to adapt to virtual audiences. The communal and interactive nature of live streaming provided real-time engagement and a more accessible alternative to in-person events. It serves as a reminder that unexpected sources can bring about positive experiences.
According to stream hatchet, non-gaming Twitch categories combine for 163% growth since 2020.
Non-gaming Twitch channels have produced over 4B hours watched since 2020
And, while live-streaming may have been a fairly new concept to some, it was not at all new for younger users who have grown immersed in a gaming culture and by the hand of live-streaming functions. This has made them more likely to embrace streaming as a natural means of connection, communication and entertainment.
As a result, they are increasingly seeking diverse content options. And Twitch, in return, is organically tailoring its content to cater the newest generations.
What are the most popular non-gaming categories?
Twitch has become a hub for musicians and music enthusiasts. Since the creation of this category, the genre generated over 250K unique channels dedicated to music, leading to over 227 million hours watched in 2022. The platform has provided artists with an alternative way to connect with fans and earn income through subscriptions and donations during the pandemic.
The “Sports” category on Twitch is the 3rd most popular non-gaming category in 2021 so far. Since 2020, “Sports” has generated over 108M hours watched. In 2022, Sports and Music stood out as the most popular non-gaming categories on Twitch for advertisers. A remarkable 30 million unique viewers tuned in to watch their favorite athletes and artists, making these categories a major attraction on the platform.
Twitch’s creative community has flourished, with artists showcasing their talents in various forms, such as painting, drawing, digital art, and more. Viewers can watch artists create their masterpieces in real-time, learn new techniques, and even participate in collaborative projects.
Food lovers can explore Twitch’s cooking category, where streamers share their culinary skills, recipes, and kitchen tips. From professional chefs to home cooks, this category offers a diverse range of content for food enthusiasts.
5. Just Chatting
We saved the best for last because it’s the most viewed non-gaming category on Twitch. We wanted to give it the recognition it deserves.
What is Just Chatting?
The Just Chatting category allows streamers to engage with their audience through casual conversations, Q&A sessions, and real-life experiences. It is literally about ‘Just Chatting’.
By 2017, Twitch shook things up by introducing the “IRL” category, giving streamers the freedom to break away from gaming and showcase their lives in real time. From cooking to strolling through town or simply engaging in heartfelt or random conversations, streamers had a new platform to connect with viewers on a personal level. The IRL category underwent some iterations, until being reborn as the “Just Chatting” category that is so popular today.
Why is this so appealing?
Just Chatting allows for immediate connection. If someone has the ability to express themselves and the courage to present their life and thoughts out there, they can be rewarded with a chatroom full of people who will listen and probably, connect with what they’ve shared. And that is an amazing realization in itself.
It is also accessible. Not everyone can own expensive computers, games or gears, but almost everyone has access to internet connection and a mic. And most importantly, stories that the rest of us can learn from.
The real faces behind these numbers - Who are the streamers?
She’s got the vibes. She’s got the energy. And the talent for live electronic music performances and DJ sets.
Sintica is the highest-paid female streamer on Twitch. She excels at interacting with the audience, taking her energy beyond the screen and immersing viewers in her rhythms. While she speaks German, one of the beautiful aspects of music is its universality!
With 11.8M and counting, Félix Lengyel won the streamy award for Just Chatting in December 2022. He claims he doesn’t know much about anything, but he certainly knows how to connect with an audience.
His lively commentary, interactive chat interactions, and occasional forays into reaction videos and IRL streaming contribute to his widespread appeal. xQc’s success extends beyond Twitch, including appearances on podcasts, esports tournaments, and a professional Overwatch career. In summary, xQc’s charismatic streams and captivating presence have solidified his position as a prominent figure in the Twitch streaming community.
Staryuuki’s streams are filled with exciting gameplay, humorous moments, and… food! With a warm and engaging on-screen presence, she invites viewers into her kitchen to share her love for creating delicious dishes and treats.
She has built a strong and supportive community of fans who eagerly tune in to watch her adventures in both various game genres and in the kitchen. Staryuuki’s dedication to her craft and her ability to connect with her audience make her streams a must-watch for gaming and cooking enthusiasts looking for diverse entertainment. Her interactive style encourages viewers to ask questions or offer suggestions. Whether you’re a master chef or a kitchen newbie, Staryuuki’s streams are a perfect blend of entertainment and education, and it will inspire you to explore your own culinary adventures.
How can they earn money from streaming?
If you ask many game streamers why they stream, one of their top priorities is often making money. The good news is that making money from streaming has become much easier in recent years.
Streamers now have numerous opportunities to connect with their audience and monetize their channels. Through subscriptions, donations, sponsorships, and partnerships, these creators can generate revenue and sustain their content production. It’s all about leveraging these features and turning their passion into profit.
Engagement and non-gaming content
Engagement is crucial for non-gaming content creators on Twitch
Engagement helps build a loyal and dedicated audience. In a world where time is the most precious commodity, captivating an audience can be tricky.
However, the golden rule is simple: sky’s the limit! The more visually captivating and interactive the content, the greater the potential for audience engagement.
Six ways to engage an audience include:
Authenticity is a key factor for streamers, as it sets them apart and makes them stand out. Each person has their own unique personality, which naturally comes through in their communication and expression. Embracing authenticity helps foster a genuine connection with the audience.
Growth and consistency go side by side. By planning and delivering consistent content that resonates with the audience, streamers can pave the way for success. Their dedication and hard work will eventually give fruitful results.
3. Nurturing fan base
Responding to comments and questions in real-time can make viewers feel like they’re an essential part of the stream.
4. Shoutouts and recognition
Acknowledging viewers’ contributions and calling them out by name can create a sense of community and encourage further engagement.
5. Social media presence
Connecting with viewers on other platforms, such as Twitter or Instagram, can help creators maintain a strong relationship with their audience and promote their Twitch channel.
Teaming up with other content creators can introduce new viewers to a creator’s channel and provide fresh content for existing viewers.
Now, Is all this glitter & gold? There can't be growth without growing pains.
While using Twitch has many advantages, perks and joy, it also has its downsides.
We’ve previously discussed how Twitch evolved from being a “House of Gamers” to a full-fledged lifestyle streaming platform during the pandemic, leading to a significant increase in viewership hours. This increase was largely fueled by the rise of non-gaming categories like Just Chatting and art.
However, growth comes with growing pains, including the need for stricter content moderation.
Twitch is cracking down on potentially controversial content as it prepares to expand further. The company has made a significant investment in its moderation system, not just to smooth over a long-standing source of frustration among Twitch creators but to create the most ad-friendly environment it possibly can.
“It’s about brand safety,” said Tom Morris, a gaming insights analyst at consumer research firm GWI. “There’s a lot more brands interested in being a part of gaming, and the last thing anyone wants to do when they get involved is align with someone who doesn’t necessarily reciprocate their values.”
On a platform whose audience is at least 21% minors, Twitch cannot risk piracy, violence, or dubious content. The streaming giant is feeling the pressure and is working hard to squash anything that might raise eyebrows.
But Twitch has been having trouble moderating its content since its launch. The spawning of ‘Trolls’ has been an ongoing issue, making it difficult for streamers to attract high-quality sponsors and brands and moreover, it raises concerns for teenage viewers and even younger audiences.
Discoverability and Competition
As the platform continues to grow and diversify its content offerings, it becomes increasingly difficult for new streamers to stand out and attract viewers. This is particularly true for those who choose to focus on non-gaming categories, as they must compete with both established gaming channels and other non-gaming content creators.
In 2016, Twitch started allowing vlogs, art, and music streams alongside gaming, which was a very nice first step to recognize non-gaming content. This change aimed to attract more viewers and increase ad revenue. However, it also led to problems like unauthorized streams, copyright issues, and controversial content.
In response to these challenges, Twitch has invested significantly in its moderation system, aiming to create a more ad-friendly environment while also addressing concerns from content creators. The platform has updated its community guidelines to clarify what types of content are allowed and prohibited, and it has implemented stricter rules regarding copyrighted material, harassment, and other forms of inappropriate behavior. Is it enough? Only time will tell.
This trend suggests that there is a strong demand for non-gaming content, and as Twitch continues to evolve and adapt to this demand, it is likely that non-gaming content will play an increasingly important role in the platform’s overall success.
How does all this impact the streaming landscape?
It won’t strike as a surprise that the expansion of content offerings has led to increased competition among streaming platforms.
With Twitch expanding its categories to include creative arts, music, talk shows, podcasts and more; YouTube Gaming wanted to stay ahead of the curve and has started featuring non-gaming content such as vlogs, tutorials, and reviews, while Facebook Gaming has also integrated non-gaming livestreams alongside its core gaming content.
In the streaming landscape, we have ection.io, which is more than a streaming hub, It is a place where people come together as a community to enjoy a variety of streams and customize their streaming experience. The platform offers a variety of content from gaming, music, comedy and more.
The competition is fierce. The main platforms are now focusing on attracting top content creators, securing exclusive partnerships, and investing in state of the art tech to bring hot features, chat functions and community-friendly features.
This has many implications for the future:
1. Increased competition
As platforms diversify their content offerings, they will compete more aggressively for viewership, advertising revenue, and exclusive partnerships. This is already leading to companies innovating when it comes to features, cutting edge tech, revenue models, marketing strategies, subscription-based services, and advertising opportunities to emerge.
2. Content diversity
Streaming platforms will continue to expand their content libraries, offering a wider range of genres and formats to cater to different audience preferences. It will be a globalization of content, which will lead to a 360* entertainment experience for users, making streaming platforms a one-stop destination for all forms of digital content.
3. Global reach
As streaming platforms offer a broader range of content, they will attract users from different regions and cultural backgrounds. This will drive the demand for localized and culturally relevant content, leading to a more inclusive and global digital entertainment landscape.
The rise of non-gaming content on streaming platforms has had a profound impact on the digital entertainment industry. This growth is not challenge-free, but it has led to increased competition and innovation while also offering more diverse content options for viewers. As this trend continues, we can expect further evolution in the world of online streaming, shaping the future of digital entertainment as a whole.