Twitch Plans to Launch TikTok-Like Short-Form Feed

Tim Cross 11 July, 2023 

The popularity of scrollable, short-form video is increasingly hard to ignore for creators, platforms, and advertisers alike to ignore. Over the last few years we’ve seen YouTube and Facebook launch scrollable short-form feeds, attempting to emulate TikTok’s popular format. And now Twitch, Amazon’s gaming-focused live streaming video, has announced a new ‘Discovery Feed’ – acknowledging the importance of short-form even for platforms like its own which specialise in long-form video.

The new feature, announced at Twitch’s own TwitchCon event in Paris, will be “a scrollable feed in the Twitch app that shows users a personalised mix of clips,” according to the company. It will show clips (sections of live streams which streamers or viewers cut out and present as standalone videos on the streamer’s profile) from a mix of creators regardless of whether they’re currently streaming or not. The company hasn’t yet announced whether ads will appear within this feed. Twitch plans to test limited versions of the feed prior to a full launch this Autumn.

While this move looks similar to YouTube and Meta’s forays into ultra-short-form, Twitch says it will keep its focus on live streaming. “Twitch is all about live, interactive channels, it’s not our goal for viewers to spend hours in a clips feed,” says the company. “Our investment in clips is to help viewers discover your channel so they join you and your community when you stream.”

Split streamers

This quote highlights an ongoing challenge for social video platforms like Twitch: maintaining their USPs, while also keeping their products flexible in order to keep their creators locked into their own platforms.

For years Twitch has been one of the leaders in live streamed video, which in some ways sits at the other end of the user-generated video spectrum from TikTok-style short form. Twitch streams last for hours rather than seconds. Many users log on specifically to watch pre-scheduled streams, rather than flicking rapidly between pieces of content like they might on TikTok. And interactivity between streamers and their viewers is a big part of the watching experience.

Twitch clearly doesn’t want to shift away from this model. But at the same time creators tend to focus on whichever platforms and content types deliver the best results for them, in terms of growing their audiences, viewership, and monetisation.

Right now, scrollable short-form video is delivering the best results – at least on the audience growth and viewership fronts, for many creators. And in the absence of a short-form video feed on Twitch, many creators distribute their clips on third-party platforms, attempting to drive audiences on those platforms back to their Twitch channels.

With the launch of Discovery Feed, Twitch will hope to keep its creator base distributing more of their content solely within its own ecosystem.

And keeping hold of creators isn’t easy. The platform has seen first-hand how quickly it can lose content creators if it doesn’t keep them happy. A controversial change to Twitch’s ad policy earlier this year which made it much harder for streamers to run branded and sponsored streams (a popular way of making money, but one where Twitch doesn’t get a cut) was quickly abandoned after backlash from a number of popular streamers.

But what’s particularly significant about the launch of the Discovery Feed is that in the past, a lot of the focus for Twitch has been on preventing streamers from migrating to other live streaming platforms like YouTube Live and Facebook Gaming. This is still a challenge (particularly with the growth of rival platform Kick). But as content creators become increasingly multi-platform and multi-format, it’s now also competing more directly with video platforms which don’t sit in the long-form live streaming space – TikTok included.

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About the Author:

Tim Cross is Assistant Editor at VideoWeek.
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