Twitch plays politics, streams the Republican and Democratic National Conventions
In just a few short years, Twitch has gone from a minor gaming service to a global force in streaming entertainment. It is still, of course, primarily dedicated to gaming, but it is growing all the time.
More and more Twitch is expanding into covering live events. During E3, it had nearly one million viewers at a time, and more is coming in multiple fields.
In the next example of how the platform is growing, Twitch will live stream the upcoming national conventions for both the Republicans and Democrats. Both conventions will be streamed for the Twitch community over multiple days, complete with live chat.
“The problem? For many of the millions of US voters who call Twitch home, Twitch is a primary source of community and entertainment,” Twitch’s blog reads. “Many of you simply don’t watch TV or browse Facebook, for example. So, we’ve worked closely with the Republican and Democratic National Conventions to bring you the full coverage of both events right here on Twitch (Twitch Plays Politics?).”
It’s easy to see how this could backfire, quickly and painfully. Bringing in politics can quickly divide and splinter a community. When it comes to games, there is no ideology at work. You watch a live stream about a game (or a gaming event), and people are united in their appreciation for it. Viewers can also watch it analytically. There are always going to be a few people that don’t know when and how to STFU, but for the most part, the communities are united in their fandom even if they disagree over the subject matter.
Politics is a different beast though. It brings out the worst in people. There is no analytical viewing anymore, and it’s almost impossible to separate the policy from the ideologies. This could end up proving to be a disastrous decision, but according to Twitch, it recognizes that this is an unorthodox decision and yet sees it as a necessary service for its viewers.
“We see this as a public service,” the blog reads. “It’s an opportunity for you to engage in the political process, and with each other, during this election year without leaving your native habitat, using the social and communication tools you know and love.”
The first of the two events will be the Republican National Convention, which takes place in Cleveland, OH July 18-21. The first day’s stream will begin at noon EDT and run through 3pm; the remaining days’ streams starting on the 19th will run from 5pm EDT to 11pm.
The Democratic National Convention, held in Philadelphia, PA, and run from July 25-28. All streams will run from 5pm EDT until 11pm.
It will be interesting to see how this plays out. The largest demographic of Twitch viewer, by age, is overwhelmingly between 18 and 24 years old; the second and third largest groups are under 18, and between 25-34 respectively. According to the most recent Pew Research data, voters in the 18-29 block dominantly support Clinton 60-30, while the next age group, 30-49 year olds, also support Clinton 52-39.
Based on the polling data alone, although polls rarely tell the whole story, the vast majority of Twitch viewers should support Clinton. That could suggest that the RNC feed will be more contentious than the DNC feed, but odds are there will be plenty of trolls in both. Twitch is promising to monitor and moderate the feeds closely – they will need to.
Regardless of what happens, this is a sign of Twitch’s growing maturity. As long as it doesn’t blow up in its face.