Thursday, May 19, 2022

How Twitch retained its crown in a controversial year

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With a new take on harassment on the horizon, Twitch ends 2020 in an enviable position. Twitch is the undisputed king of live streaming platforms, with more than 10.5 million unique channels, compared to around 913,000 for YouTube Gaming and 268,000 for Facebook Gaming, according to Streamlabs. Between July and September of this year, Twitch logged over 4.7 billion hours of viewing time, while YouTube reached around 1.7 billion and Facebook just over one billion.

One of Twitch’s rivals, Mixer, closed in summer, and although Microsoft has tried to push its audience to Facebook Gaming, most streamers ended up on Twitch. Following his exclusive concert on Mixer, Tyler “Ninja” Blevins, the world’s most popular streamer, joined Twitch in September. He currently has the most followers on the platform, with 16.5 million.

Twitch didn’t come out of the woods, but he built a nice cabin there and is settling in for the long haul. The company is currently facing an eruption of DMCA withdrawals, and every day, it tries to find a balance in its moderation policies. End December, Twitch suspended professional Valuing Player Taynha “Tayhuhu” Yukimi after her three-year-old wandered over her live stream and interacted with the cat, alone, as she answered the door. Twitch’s terms prohibit anyone under the age of 13 from streaming, although children have made appearances on other channels with no issues. She shared the news of her suspension on Twitter and called on Twitch to reconsider her decision. Her channel was re-established two days after she posted on Twitter with no official word on what happened.

This last part is the trickiest part for Twitch. With a history of inconsistent moderation practices and poor communication, transparency will be critical to Twitch’s reputation for years to come. Now that the company has new policies on harassment and bans, it has a solid foundation to explain its future decisions, and it needs to take full advantage of this reset. When high profile streamers are banned or otherwise punished, Twitch should publicly explain why. When a notable streamer, developer, or community member is accused of abuse, Twitch should share the steps it takes to investigate. If the business finds evidence of wrongdoing, it must act quickly and take steps to prevent future violations, but also clearly explain the situation to the community.

So, yes, Twitch needs to deliver the actions to save its words – but in 2021 and beyond, the reverse is also true.

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