• Dean Smith

Twitch: A Parent’s Guide

One of the most recent trends disconnecting parents and their children, i.e. generation gap, is the phenomenon known as Twitch. For those who’ve never heard of it, Twitch is a live streaming service that focuses on the gamer audience, and the company is insanely popular in the Millennial and Generation Z demographics. As of January 2020, Twitch.TV’s site ranking averages on Alexa place the service in the top 20 to 30 most trafficked websites in the world, and is currently the 12th ranked site in the United States. Web analysts suspect the company hasn’t plateaued yet, and Twitch is expected to break into the top ten in late 2020 or early 2021.

For such a popular website, it makes Twitch’s disconnect between parents and children a bit of an oddity. Typically, companies who garner web-traffic in such large numbers are the center of attention for news outlets and editorialists, and yet, the older crowd isn’t particularly informed, or interested, in what the streaming service offers.

What makes Twitch so attractive to Millennials and Zoomers, but not to older demographics? The content. Twitch streams video gaming live, including broadcasts of eSports competitions, and the gamers who host their channels, often commenting, critiquing, and laying out advice or strategies, are selling their personalities as well as their gameplay.


In a nutshell, viewers pay money to watch personalities play video games and yammer away. The concept hasn’t resonated with Boomers at all, somewhat with Generation X, 17% of Twitch’s viewers, but the idea of watching someone else play a video game excites Zoomers and Millennials more than the previous generational cohorts.


So, what’s the dangers associated with Twitch that parents should understand? There’s the one’s we’ve come to expect with any platform that encourage social interaction between users, predators scamming for a child’s information and the like, but in Twitch’s case the two most concerning threats are this: the live streams are uncensored and many of the games may not suitable for younger audiences.

The good news is that Twitch users are prohibited from streaming any game rated “Adults Only” (AO) in the United States by the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB), regardless of its rating in any other geographical region, as well as any game showcasing “overtly sexual content” or “gratuitous violence.” The downside is that it’s not particularly difficult to get around this rule, at least in the short term.

We’ve included the National Online Safety’s guide for parents below, and click the link to find our articles about the guide’s for Twitter and Reddit, but to show how ridiculously popular Twitch is with younger audiences, we’ve laid out a few statistics for you.

Statistics

Twitch attracts almost 72% more viewers than its nearest competitor, YouTube Gaming


It’s hard to overstate the dominance Twitch holds over the game streaming market. YouTube Gaming – its closest competitor – was launched as a standalone app back in August 2015, before being integrated into YouTube Live in 2018. YouTube Live managed to rack up a hefty 226,390,000 hours of viewing in Q3 2018. That does sound pretty impressive until one looks at Twitch analytics. In that same quarter, Twitch viewers accumulated a whopping 813,790,000 hours of streaming.

Viewers tune in for an average of 95 minutes per day

None of the other Twitch statistics show just how big a part of people’s lives this platform has become. Rather than just popping onto the website to see who’s online, or to watch a couple of short bursts of gameplay, many Twitch users log on for an entire viewing session. Given that this is the amount of time these same people might have devoted to watching a movie a decade ago, or a couple of episodes of a TV show, this illustrates how Twitch is supplanting traditional forms of media.

The Twitch growth trend has averaged 23% per year

Twitch certainly isn’t an overnight success story. Its staggering success has been building up for a number of years now. Justin.tv – Twitch’s predecessor – was shut down and fully replaced by Twitch in 2014. That year, Twitch accumulated 192 billion minutes of total watch time. In 2018, that number hit 434 billion, good for a 126% total increase.

As of February 2018, official Twitch statistics set the number of broadcasters at 2.2 million, and the number of unique daily viewers at 15 million, with the number of monthly users pegged at 140 million. Peak concurrent viewership is set at two million.

To put this a little into perspective, in early 2018, Twitch was outstripping MNSBC and CNN in terms of peak concurrent viewership (885,000 and 783,000 respectively). Fox News and ESPN were logging 1.5 million at this point, and thus will have been overtaken by Twitch shortly after the linked report.

With 148 million subscribers, Netflix seems to be the only thing that can compete.