TwitchCon: Twitch uses its first user convention to unveil features rivaling YouTube

Jonathan Simpson-Bint and Emmet Shear, right, executives at Twitch, pose at the firm's offices in San Francisco on May 20, 2014.

Jonathan Simpson-Bint and Emmet Shear, right, executives at Twitch, pose at the firm’s offices in San Francisco on May 20, 2014.

(David Butow / For The Times)’s video service Twitch is giving its 1.7 million broadcasters a big feature next year to keep them from deflecting to YouTube.

Twitch lets users broadcast live video of themselves playing or chatting about video games, and it’s easy for people to watch those livestreams or archived recordings. But Twitch hasn’t had an “upload” function to post previously recorded content, like, say, a nicely produced music video parody or an interview captured somewhere without Internet.

The company announced Friday at its first TwitchCon user convention that starting next year, people will no longer have to broadcast live to get content onto Twitch.




Sept. 28, 11:17 a.m.: An earlier version of the photo caption accompanying this article incorrectly identified Shear. He is on the right.


At the event in the Moscone Center in San Francisco, Twitch also unveiled playlists, an updated search engine, easier one-on-one chatting, support for customized thumbnails and a revamped video player. Each of the changes fills in where Twitch was lacking compared with YouTube, which this year has tried to catch up to Twitch in other aspects to lure video game enthusiasts.

YouTube has more gaming content than Twitch, but Twitch’s staunchly loyal community and stronger social features have turned into a bigger business in the $3.8-billion global market for video game content, analyst firm SuperData Research reported in July. Most of industry’s cash comes from ads, with smaller contributions from donations to broadcasters and subscriptions.

Twitch -- which Amazon bought for about $1 billion last year -- was expected to generate $1.6 billion in revenue this year, SuperData said.

Twitch Chief Executive Emmett Shear said the “ton of new ways to communicate” would allow the company’s 100 million monthly users, who spend 1.5 hours a day on average on the service, to form stronger bonds with video-makers and fellow viewers.

The TwitchCon event was launched in the same spirit. After top broadcasters visited the company’s headquarters in San Francisco, Shear said he wondered why “should we be the only ones who get to meet them in person?” The sold-out convention, which runs through Saturday, lets fans mingle with online stars, pro gamers and Twitch employees.


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