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Twitch bets on the next big live streaming sensation: Artists

Twitch bets on the next big live streaming sensation: Artists
Ascreen-grab from a video stream featuring an artistnamed Sohlol, who paintedformer TV personality Bob Ross. (Twitch)
Twitch, the popular app for all things video games, announced Thursday that it’s expanding into another community: art enthusiasts.

The Amazon.com Inc.-owned company wants to start cultivating a small but growing corner of its service that cropped up on its own. About 900 artists each day use Twitch to live-stream themselves sculpting, painting, blowing glass, building robots, writing songs and more.

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But the 2 million people who watch them each month are a fraction of Twitch's more than 100 million users, most of whom visit to watch people play video games. The new initiative makes a link to such artistic videos more visible and allows art broadcasters to use hashtags to improve discoverability of their content. Twitch also is hiring workers and considering building tools to cater to artists.

The community became too numerous to ignore, said Bill Moorier, head of the newly dubbed Twitch Creative and one of the company's early employees.

“The passion I see in these broadcasters reminds me of the early days of Twitch with the gaming community,” Moorier said, referring to people such as Geers_art and Vieparlafoi who are live-streaming their manufacturing process.

Twitch videos are organized by game, and two years ago, Moorier started collecting data on Twitch's art community by asking it to post to a made-up game called "Creative." Time spent viewing "Creative" videos has grown 40% each month over the previous month for nearly a year.

While apps such as Pinterest, DeviantArt and Etsy provide a platform for people to showcase or sell works, none supports streaming the development process, Moorier said.

Twitch videomakers can make money from ads, subscriptions and digital payments from users. But since artists are often showing themselves making commissioned work, Twitch is extra cash. Moorier said he's looking into streamlining the commissioning process to increase revenue for artists while taking a cut for the company.

The launch coincides with former TV personality Bob Ross' birthday, and Twitch will consecutively air the 403 episodes of his popular PBS show "The Joy of Painting" over the next 8½ days.

"He's the archetype of what it means to be a creative broadcaster," Moorier said.

Chat with me on Twitter @peard33

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