skip to main content

Title: Audience Management Practices of Live Streamers on Twitch
Live streaming is a unique medium that merges different layers of communication by facilitating individual, group, and mass communication simultaneously. Streamers who broadcast themselves on live streaming platforms such as Twitch are their own media entity and have the challenge of having to manage interactions with many different types of online audiences beyond the translucent platform interfaces. Through qualitative interviews with 25 Twitch streamers, in this paper we share streamers’ practices of discovering audience composition, categorizing audience groups, and developing appropriate mechanisms to interact with them despite geographical, technological, and temporal limitations. We discuss streamers’ appropriation of real-time signals provided by these platforms as sources of information, and their dependence on both technology and voluntary human labor to scale their media entity. We conclude with design recommendations for streaming platforms to provide streamer-centric tools for audience management, especially for knowledge discovery and growth management. .
Authors:
;
Award ID(s):
1841354 1849718
Publication Date:
NSF-PAR ID:
10178912
Journal Name:
Proceedings of IMX '20: ACM International Conference on Interactive Media Experiences
Page Range or eLocation-ID:
106 to 116
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Live streaming is a unique form of media that creates a direct line of interaction between streamers and viewers. While previous research has explored the social motivations of those who stream and watch streams in the gaming community, there is a lack of research that investigates intimate self-disclosure in this context, such as discussing sensitive topics like mental health on platforms such as Twitch.tv. This study aims to explore discussions about mental health in gaming live streams to better understand how people perceive discussions of mental health in this new media context. The context of live streaming is particularly interesting as it facilitates social interactions that are masspersonal in nature: the streamer broadcasts to a larger, mostly unknown audience, but can also interact in a personal way with viewers. In this study, we interviewed Twitch viewers about the streamers they view, how and to what extent they discuss mental health on their channels in relation to gaming, how other viewers reacted to these discussions, and what they think about live streams, gaming-focused or otherwise, as a medium for mental health discussions. Through these interviews, our team was able to establish a baseline of user perception of mental health in gamingmore »communities on Twitch that extends our understanding of how social media and live streaming can be used for mental health conversations. Our first research question unraveled that mental health discussions happen in a variety of ways on Twitch, including during gaming streams, Just Chatting talks, and through the stream chat. Our second research question showed that streamers handle mental health conversations on their channels in a variety of ways. These depend on how they have built their channel, which subsequently impacts how viewers perceive mental health. Lastly, we learned that viewers’ reactions to mental health discussions depend on their motivations for watching the stream such as learning about the game, being entertained, and more. We found that more discussions about mental health on Twitch led to some viewers being more cautious when talking about mental health to show understanding.« less
  2. Live streaming is a form of media that allows streamers to directly interact with their audience. Previous research has explored mental health, Twitch.tv and live streaming platforms, and users' social motivations behind watching live streams separately. However, few have explored how these all intertwine in conversations involving intimate, self-disclosing topics, such as mental health. Live streams are unique in that they are largely masspersonal in nature; streamers broadcast themselves to mostly unknown viewers, but may choose to interact with them in a personal way. This study aims to understand users' motivations, preferences, and habits behind participating in mental health discussions on live streams. We interviewed 25 Twitch viewers about the streamers they watch, how they interact in mental health discussions, and how they believe streamers should discuss mental health on live streams. Our findings are contextualized in the dynamics in which these discussions occur. Overall, we found that the innate design of the Twitch platform promotes a user-hierarchy in the ecosystem of streamers and their communities, which may affect how mental health is discussed.
  3. Live streaming is a form of interactive media that potentially makes streamers more vulnerable to harassment due to the unique attributes of the technology that facilitates enhanced information sharing via video and audio. In this study, we document the harassment experiences of 25 live streamers on Twitch from underrepresented groups including women and/or LGBTQ streamers and investigate how they handle and prevent adversity. In particular, live streaming enables streamers to self-moderate their communities, so we delve into the methods of how they manage their communities from both a social and technical perspective. We found that technology can cover the basics for handling negativity, but much emotional and relational work is invested in moderation, community maintenance, and self-care.
  4. The ability to engage in real-time text conversations is an important feature on live streaming platforms. The moderation of this text content relies heavily on the work of unpaid volunteers. This study reports on interviews with 20 people who moderate for Twitch micro communities, defined as channels that are built around a single or group of streamers, rather than the broadcast of an event. The study identifies how people become moderators, their different styles of moderating, and the difficulties that come with the job. In addition to the hardships of dealing with negative content, moderators also have complex interpersonal relationships with the streamers and viewers, where the boundaries between emotional labor, physical labor, and fun are intertwined.
  5. The digital presentation of gender and sexuality has been a long-standing concern in HCI and CSCW. There is also a growing interest in exploring more nuanced presentations of identity afforded in emerging online social spaces that have not been thoroughly studied. In this paper, we endeavor to contribute towards this research agenda in yet another new media context – live streaming – by analyzing female and LGBTQ streamers’ practices to present and manage their gender identity and sexual identity. Our findings highlight streamers’ gender representation and sexual representation as a demonstration of controlling their own bodies, an awareness of the audiences and the resistance to their expectations, and an exhibition of the affordances and power structure of the specific online social space. We extend existing studies on live streaming by exploring the understudied gender identity and sexual identity aspect of the streaming practices. We also highlight the less audience/performance-oriented but more self-driven aspect of digital representations and the importance of affirmation and empowerment in this process.We add nuance to the existing HCI/CSCWstudies on gender and sexuality by investigating a highly dynamic, interactive, and multilayered self-presentation mechanism emerging in live streaming and point to the need for potential new lenses tomore »analyze technology-supported identity construction.« less