Twitch plans to take a much-needed look at how easy it is to find a streamer you like without having to survive annoying pre-roll ads before you can watch anything.
In an open letter (opens in new tab) about Twitch's outlook for 2023, chief product officer Tom Verrilli and chief monetization officer Mike Minton detailed all the features and changes it plans to introduce.
Right now, Twitch streamers have to run a certain amount of mid-stream ads to be able to disable the pre-roll ads that show up when you click on their channel. If they run a long, 90-second ad, they can earn 30 minutes of time without pre-roll ads, which are a common barrier to attracting new viewers.
Twitch plans to simplify that requirement sometime in the first half of this year so that streamers who run three minutes of ads per hour can disable them. It's the same amount of required ads, but makes it easier to manage on the streamer side, which could result in fewer pre-roll ads in general. And when you do get them, Twitch says it will use its picture-in-picture feature to let you peek at the stream as the ads play.
Viewers will soon get a warning before mid-roll ads are about to play during a stream and the ability to "snooze" them to, presumably, play later. Twitch says it's also working to make Twitch Turbo, its $8.99 a month subscription service that removes ads from the site, "better and more relevant for our community."
The increased attention to ads is the start of all the ways Twitch seems to want to make it easier to browse and find streamers this year. Twitch tags will get their own URLs on top of the existing front page curation to help you find topics you like, and mobile users will be able to scroll through clips in a feature that sounds a lot like TikTok.
On the streamer side, they'll be able to pin up to 20 clips to their channel page and will have tools to edit them for publication on social media. They'll also have the ability to send videos and clips out to their followers and subscribers like YouTube's community posts. And a "Creator Home" will surface analytics for tags and the best time of day to stream specific categories and games.
All of this feels like Twitch making an effort to acknowledge and incorporate streamer best practices into the platform directly, instead of relying on influencer word of mouth and third-party services. As it gets easier for streamers to capitalize on trends and promote themselves, it should get easier to find someone you'll enjoy watching.
But the cost, of course, is the amount of effort it requires to stand out on a busy platform where thousands of people go every day. It gets harder and harder to turn streaming into a job and in a few months Twitch will force a 50/50 revenue split (opens in new tab) on everyone on the platform. Meanwhile, some of its most popular creators are branching out (opens in new tab) to TikTok and taking deals to exclusively stream on YouTube.
Twitch is still the king of streaming though, and most of its plans for 2023 seem like they'll keep it firmly planted on the throne.