Last month, Forbes published an article declaring 2020 “the year of Twitch.” The title is more than just a tribute to the company’s success in community building and technological achievement. While Twitch has always offered users all over the world the ability to easily set up high-quality live streams for an engaged community, those tools have quickly assumed an essential role in the cultural shift that has emerged since the coronavirus outbreak.

With a large portion of the world’s population staying at home, people are not only looking for new entertainment options, but also for ways of maintaining human connection. At its best, live streaming can provide both. Rather than serving as passive entertainment, Twitch’s channels encourage community interaction with their active chat windows. For many Twitch users, this discussion can be just as (or more) important than the action happening on screen (see the popular “Just Chatting” sub-communities, as well as the rich music and performing arts offerings, for example).

Using streaming to help those in need

The site has long been supportive of charitable organisations, with streamers setting up charity drives that use digital payment tools like Amazon Pay to accept donations both for charities and their lifeblood. Within the first 6 years of its existence, the site raised $75 million for over 100 different charities. In keeping with that tradition, Twitch wanted to leverage its service to raise money for coronavirus relief efforts.

Therefore, on March 28, they organised Twitch Stream Aid, a 12-hour stream designed to raise money for the United Nations Foundation’s COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund for WHO. The celebrity performers ranged from pop music royalty like Diplo, Charlie Puth, and Joe Jonas to athletes like Lando Norris, Aly Raisman, Greg Norman, and Richard Sherman. The programme also included Fortnite and UNO tournaments in which celebrity gamers and Twitch streamers participated.

Promoting connection during isolation

Ultimately, the Stream Aid event raised $2.7 million for the relief fund. Some of Twitch’s most successful streamers have played a huge role in keeping charitable pursuits, with gamer Sean "Jacksepticeye" McLoughlin raising $650,000 in just one day in early April on the behalf of several charitable organisations for the Solidarity Response Fund.

Twitch is also a support mechanism for users and viewers during this period of isolation. Thanks to Amazon Pay, which is integrated through Twitch as a payment service, fans can support their favourite streamers by subscribing to their channel and making other contributions. In these times of economic and professional instability, these can be an essential source of income for channel owners, as well as a way of fostering a strong sense of community.

“These are difficult and uncertain times, but Twitch has always been about bringing people together, making connections, and creating communities around shared interests,” said Sara Clemens, Twitch COO, in a statement to Forbes. “Where possible, we are working with these groups to help bring those experiences to life.”

Learn more about Twitch here.

 

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