Max Sjöblom, Maria Törhönen, Juho Hamari, and Joseph Macey have studied how the video content creators (streamers) on Twitch, create content (video streams) and provide meaningful interaction with viewers and monetize this engagement. Several affordances were discovered. These affordances were separated into two main categories of revenue affordance and social affordance, and the affordances were studied how they manifested in the video streams and the streamers’ profiles.
Revenue affordance of the video stream was further divided into a social and commercial type, where the latter means the conventional product advertising by the streamer. The social affordance of the video stream meant that the streamer had some augmentations for the stream, such as a webcam and a microphone. Thus, enhancing the social interaction with the viewers and bringing forth the streamer itself.
Social revenue affordance is utilized when viewers are incentivized to spend money on the streamer by expressions of celebration or other reactions by the streamer or via onscreen notifications, which can even lead to extremely competitive behavior between donors. Other viewers may participate in this incitement as well.
An example of the social affordance of the personal profile is how Twitch provides a space for the streamer to add information about themselves. An introduction may make the streamer seem more approachable. In this space, they may also put up their other social media account information. As the streamer is dependent on the viewer, social media is essential, and it may be utilized to expand the viewership which is an important means to grow a community and ultimately build their personal brands.
Revenue affordance of the personal profile is present as streamers put highly visible third-party donation links to their profile information, and some may list how they will react to these donations as an incentive for the viewer to participate in the activity. However, the personal profile may also be used for other types of promotion, such as a display for equipment used by the streamer, their personal brand merchandise, or other sponsorships. Notably, reinforcing one’s brand can be more desirable than the monetary gain received from these goods.
The method used in this study was a digital ethnography where Sjöblom et al. selected one hundred popular English-speaking streamers on Twitch whose past broadcasts were not restricted to subscribers only. They proceeded to watch one of the streamers’ broadcasts and studied their personal profiles to assess what means of engagement streamers use and what are their affordances.
The study suggests that implementing some of these streamer practices into the service would be beneficial to Twitch. However, the usability of the study and its findings is not only limited to Twitch, but these affordances may also be worthwhile to consider when exploring other social media or content creation in general.
Sjöblom, M., Törhönen M., Hamari, J., & Macey J. (2019). The ingredients of Twitch streaming: Affordances of game streams. Computers in Human Behavior, 92, 20–28. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chb.2018.10.012
Header image taken by: Gage Skidmore from Peoria, AZ, United States of America
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