Startup companies these days entice investors using numbers, in the case of online service and app startups, high user subscription/followers is what brings value and visibility. Word on the street was that Twitch was once a tiny and highly unsecure office back in its early days, with such a strong lack of security that someone even got away with stealing complete PC setups there without any delays.
So how did such a small company such as Twitch gain so much appeal? According to Brian Nichols’ Motley Fool article titled 5 Key Reasons Why Amazon.com Bought Twitch, “Twitch had more than 55 million unique visitors” and “reported that nearly 60% of its users spend more than 20 hours per week on the platform, or half a workweek.” If those numbers exist, why is there still a large number of the general public who have no idea what Twitch is?
Big Name Streamers
It’s well known that when starting up a service/product, gaining strong visibility quickly can be done via marketing influencers (YouTubers, celebrities, or local celebrities). Startups often partner or hire marketing influencers with high follower counts to spread the good word of their products. It’s known that influencers can raise the value of a brand once they’re known to commonly use a brand’s product, but it’s also an expensive investment to pay an influencer. Seeing as how Twitch was a small company, hiring influencers sounds like a tough decision for them, but has anyone noticed a random spike/surge of big name streamers on the rise around 2013? Again, it’s expensive to hire an influencer but we should ask ourselves, how much does it cost to just make one up? I implore that you ask streamers any questions regarding how they got started. Did they have a strong online branding history or did they just suddenly fall from the sky?
Is Twitch Telling The Truth?
Any site or service owner should have the power to change their numbers up, so this also gets me wondering, if Twitch made a deal to broadcast a tournament or event couldn’t they just say that they’ve got millions or billions of viewers anytime they wanted? In a case like that, Twitch is probably the only source of truth to turn to when searching for a report on metrics. Given the statements made by Brian Nichols, it may be possible that 55 million unique visitors and 60% of users spending more than 20 hours per week could have been an artificially created statement to entice Amazon to buy them.
Viewbots Aren’t Allowed
In some corporate branded Twitch channels, streamers are asked to appear on a corporate channel as a partnered streamer (please note that these corporate channels I’ve seen have no sub button). In my years of experience, I’ve only seen an average of about 1/8th to 1/4th of a streamer’s viewers transition over to a corporate channel to support their favorite streamer’s shift. You can have an average of let’s say, 362 viewers come by to support their streamer on the corporate channel. But when we return to the streamer’s personal channel, they already have over 3000 viewers watching them. If viewbots aren’t allowed on Twitch, what’s to stop Twitch from boosting a streamer themselves? It’s getting harder to determine who is viewbotting or not no thanks to the viewer list remaining buggy at all times.
Are Partnered Streamers Aware of this?
A “partnership” or sub button with Twitch does not guarantee that the person fully represents Twitch and a streamer’s statements and opinions are their own and do not necessarily reflect those of Twitch. So there’s a possibility that a streamer is unaware of any deeper details regarding their partnership.
Streamers are hard workers nonetheless, and many of them risk their health just to keep their viewer retention. The pressure to compete to be a well-known streamer is high, but with the question of whether Twitch’s viewers are legitimate or not, I’d say that the investment of stream time should be placed on a lower priority until the truth is given to us.