The popular streaming site Twitch has recently announced a new feature, which the Amazon-owned website is describing as ‘Watch Parties’. This new innovation on the Twitch platform will enable streamers to watch Amazon Prime Video offerings online, and invite viewers to the party.
Since Amazon spent nearly $1 billion to acquire Twitch in 2014, the gaming-focused site has gone from strength to strength. Twitch is now ranked in the top 40 websites in the world, according to Alexa, and watching streamers has become a central part of youth culture.
Amazon already enables Twitch viewers to subscribe to streams via Amazon Prime, but clearly wants to extend out this feature, while promoting its own Prime Video to Twitch watchers. Prime Video was launched in 2006, and has steadily built up a huge following, but still trails behind rival Netflix in the entertainment streaming market.
One of the first people to break this story was Travis Shreffler, who tweeted an invitation that he had received to the new Watch Parties feature. The invitation explains that certain streamers will be able to showcase a variety of Prime Video movies and TV series on their channels, so their audience can watch and chat along at the same time.
The only issue for many Twitch viewers will be that they themselves also need to have access to Prime in order to watch the streams. This is obviously the motivation for Amazon, which sees a nifty way to get more young people in particular to sign up for Prime Video packages. Whether this will be successful remains to be seen, but the pull of Twitch certainly shouldn’t be underestimated.
Also key in the early days of Watch Parties is the fact that the amount of content available to stream will be rather limited. Titles on offer include Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan, Mission Impossible: Fallout and Pokémon. But Amazon has vowed to continue to increase the number of titles available over time, as Watch Parties bed in, and become part of the overall culture of the site.
Amazon has also signalled its intention to allow certain streamers to test out Watch Parties online before the feature officially launches.
The new initiative follows on from previous events organized by Twitch, in which viewers were invited to participate in binge viewing of popular franchises such as Star Wars and Disney flicks. But these parties were always hosted through the company’s official channel, Twitch Presents, and Watch Parties instead promises to make them a central part of everyday Twitch streaming.
In the longer term, Amazon is certain to include some of its own original content with the Watch Parties platform, which could see series such as Good Omens and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel made available. The site also has numerous highly popular boxsets available, and we can expect to see many of these appear on the Twitch platform in the near future.
While Twitch remains the most popular streaming site focused on gaming, rivals such as Mixer, Facebook Gaming, and YouTube’s gaming channel are posing a threat to its supremacy. Twitch clearly intends to cram as many features as possible into its platform in order to attract new viewers, at a time when it remains way ahead of the field.