What is Twitch chat only?

For years, professional gamers and game streamers have dominated Twitch, attracting millions of viewers who want to watch people play video games all day. And while many Twitch streamers continue to produce game content, a large portion of the platform has moved away from it.

In March 2017, Twitch added a category called “IRL”, which allows streamers to broadcast themselves doing something other than gaming, such as cooking, walking around town or just sitting in front of the camera talking to the viewer. The IRL category has grown and eventually split into multiple categories as Twitch tries to label its content more accurately, leading to the addition of the “Chat Only” category in late 2018.

Screengrab via Twitch

Unlike some other IRL-inspired categories, such as Art RPG and Tabletop, Just Chatting proved to be relatively broad and allowed many broadcasters to chat with their audiences without having to play a game or perform a specific activity while streaming. Because of its wide appeal, Just Chatting quickly became one of the most watched categories on Twitch.

As of May 2020, Just Chatting has continuously the most popular category on the whole platform although there are brief periods in it Escape from Tarkov, League of Legendsand Grand Theft Auto DRAW bring in the most viewers. So why is Just Chatting so popular? There are actually a few reasons.

First, basically anyone can do a Chat Only flow. As long as they have an internet connection and either a camera or microphone, both of which are not technically required, they can stream in the Twitch Chat Only category. There is no need to purchase games and even no broadcasting software in some cases.

Screengrab via Twitch Tracker

But the relatively simple setup isn’t the biggest reason Just Chatting is so popular. In fact, a lot of viewers just want to interact with the live streamers. Even in the gaming categories, many viewers despair when their chat messages, subscriber alerts or donations are read aloud by the broadcaster. So it’s no surprise that a category that encourages chat and streamer interaction would be hugely popular.

There are also a lot of different ways Just Chatting streamers help entertain their audience. For example, HasanAbi, one of the most popular streamers on Twitch, discusses politics and other news events using his chat. Hasan and other streamers also browse Reddit or watch YouTube videos and TV series with their chat feature, which doesn’t really fall into a category other than Chat Only.

Some viewers have criticized the “lazy” approach of Just Chatting streamers, arguing that they are not creative and often use other creators’ content to fill time in a stream. Other viewers also expressed outrage at some of the women who streamed, such as Amoranthwho pushed the limits of what was considered pornography on the platform.

With thousands of broadcasters and more viewers watching, despite the criticism, Just Chatting is likely to stay here. What is Twitch chat only?

Emma Bowman

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