Twitch Testing Channel Surfing

Twitch is testing a fresh way to discover new channels, reminding us of the good old days of channel surfing on the TV.

The experiment, called the Channel Switcher, lets you fast flip through previews of different streams to assist you in finding something to watch. And perhaps best of all, you won’t see ads while using it.

Right now on Twitch, if you don’t already know what you want to watch, finding something new that you might want to tune into can be challenging. Our rundown is to check the homepage, scan the sidebar of people we follow, click into an individual game or category to browse who is live, or navigate directly to a streamer’s account.

But, if you want to move on from a stream you are already watching, your best options are to click another followed account or recommendation on the sidebar or back out to Twitch’s Browse section. That latter option isn’t your favorite, as you often run into choice paralysis.

Channel Switcher will be a much quicker way to check out many different streamers. You’ll be able to watch a 60-second preview of a stream before having to decide to click through or watch another channel, according to Twitch spokesperson Ashton Williams.

It seems like only a lucky few will be able to try Channel Switcher for the moment, though. Williams says that “only a small percentage of users who are logged in” currently have access, and those who get it have been randomly selected. As a result, the experiment will be turned off in the middle of July so the company can analyze the test results. Still, Williams notes that Twitch plans to work on future iterations and may offer an opt-in version of the feature.

Channel Switcher is just one of many updates Twitch announced, including a new tool that makes it easier for streamers to add guests to their stream called Guest Star and the ability to create your tags.

Twitch is an American video live streaming assistance that concentrates on video game live streaming, including esports competitions broadcasts and music broadcasts, creative content, and “in real life” streams. It is operated by Twitch Interactive, a subsidiary of Amazon.com, Inc. It was introduced in June 2011 as a spin-off of the general-interest streaming platform Justin.tv. Content on the site can be viewed either live or via video on demand.

The popularity of Twitch eclipsed that of its general-interest counterpart. In October 2013, the website had 45 million unique viewers, and by February 2014, it was considered the fourth-largest source of peak Internet traffic in the United States. At the same time, Justin. Tv’s parent company was re-branded as Twitch Interactive to represent the shift in focus Justin.tv was shut down in August 2014.

That month, the service was acquired by Amazon for US$970 million, which later led to synergies with the company’s subscription service Amazon Prime. In addition, twitch received Curse in 2016, an operator of online video gaming assemblies. It introduced means to buy games through links on streams and a program permitting streamers to receive commissions on the sales of games they play.

By 2015, Twitch had more than 100 million viewers per month. In 2017, Twitch remained the leading live streaming video service for video games in the US and had an advantage over YouTube Gaming, which shut down its standalone app in May 2019. As of February 2020, it had 3 million broadcasters monthly and 15 million daily active users, with 1.4 million moderate concurrent users. As of May 2018, Twitch had over 27,000 partner channels.

Twitch is designed to be a platform for content, including esports tournaments, personal streams of individual players, and gaming-related talk shows. Several channels do live to speedrun. The Twitch homepage currently displays games based on viewership. The most famous games streamed on Twitch are PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, Hearthstone, Overwatch, Fortnite, League of Legends, Dota 2, and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, with a combined total of over 356 million hours watched as of June 2018.

Twitch has also made expansions into non-gaming content; in July 2013, the site streamed the performance of ‘Fester’s Feast’ from San Diego Comic-Con, and electronic dance music act on July 30, 2014, Steve Aoki broadcast a live performance from a nightclub in Ibiza. In January 2015, Twitch introduced an official category for music streams, such as radio shows and music production activities. In March 2015, it announced that it would become the new official live streaming partner of the Ultra Music Festival, an electronic music festival in Miami.

On October 28, 2015, Twitch launched a second non-gaming category, “Creative,” which is intended for streams showcasing the creation of artistic and creative works. The service also streamed an eight-day Bob Ross’s The Joy of Painting marathon to promote the launch. Finally, in July 2016, Twitch launched “Social eating” as a beta, inspired by the Korean phenomenon of Muk-bang. Korean players have engaged in the practice as intermissions on their gaming streams.

In March 2017, Twitch added an “IRL” category, designed for content within Twitch guidelines that do not fall within any other established site types. “While gameplay still makes up the vast majority of the content broadcast via Twitch, the ‘Just Chatting’ category a catch-all term that encompasses anything from candid conversation to reality programming took the top spot by a comfortable margin overall in December [2019]. It was the first time it’d achieved No. 1 overall for a tracked period on the platform,” While the category has been on the rise for the last couple of months.

In 2020, Thrillist described Twitch as “talk radio for the extremely online.” Michael Espinosa, for Business Insider in 2021, highlighted that “Twitch dominates the live content space, with 17 billion hours watched last year, compared to YouTube Gaming Live’s 10 billion. But the vast majority of gaming content is still consumed on-demand, where YouTube is the clear leader with over 100 billion hours watched last year”.