The Twitch-ification Of Everything. Thoughts on TV 2.0, Clubhouse and Twitter Spaces
Conversations we can contribute to, rather than just consume, are at the very least "a future" if not THE future
The special sauce of Twitch is the voice it gives everyone on the service: It’s the ability for me as a viewer to participate in the live stream as it’s happening and shape the content we are all enjoying together. I can tune into a broadcast of Fortnite with tens of thousands of other people and ask the streamer a question and they may choose to respond. This direct call and response dynamic between creator and viewer engenders something traditional media has never been able to: A relationship.
As a facilitator of relationships and communities Twitch has been able to thrive and has come to dominate one half of what I consider to be a kind of ‘TV 2.0' (I’m sure I’m not the first person to coin this term so don't @ me).
What defines TV 2.0 to me? It’s a divergence in the type of content millennials and younger generations want and now expect. On one end of this barbell, we have incredibly expensive, high production and glossy programmes that look closer to big-budget Hollywood movies than anything I grew up expecting to see on the TV. One look at the original content on Disney Plus illustrates this point. The money Bob Chapek has thrown at the screen to produce ‘Falcon & The Winter Soldier’ or ‘The Mandalorian’ has got to be jaw-dropping. Just look at it…
On the other end of the barbell, we have the polar opposite: Rough and ready video created in the moment and of the moment by individuals at home. Typically filmed on nothing fancier than a Logitech webcam or smartphone, these channels represent a democratisation of the attention economy. This is the space Twitch and YouTube play in and brings to mind the 1992 movie ‘Waynes World’ which, it turns out, was a story ahead of its time. ‘Waynes World’ follows a twenty-something with his own private access cable TV show that is totally unscripted and wildly popular for it. The bad guys of the movie are the TV execs who don’t understand how they’re losing ground to a kid in his basement. In the age of TV 2.0 what wins is either wildly expensive to produce linear narratives or twenty-somethings virtually hanging out with their fans. Anything in the middle will continue a slow roll into cultural irrelevance. As the streaming wars continue to escalate between the big streaming services and content budgets expand commensurately it will be interesting to see if Netflix or its foes try to venture into the other (much less expensive) end of the barbell.
Its been hard not to notice the increasing buzz around Clubhouse and by extension its closest me-too product, Twitter Spaces. Not being a member of the iPhone glitterati I haven’t gotten to try the former but I am assured it’s not a radical departure from Spaces and I have to say, I have enjoyed Spaces greatly. These products feel very much like a podcast with Twitch’s DNA generously woven into their fabric. Before these products even existed I would often listen to podcasts and over time feel increasingly like a silent member of the show, sat around the table with the hosts. I would feel some urge to chime in and contribute. Now that ClubHouse and Spaces are facilitating this interactivity I’m kind of astonished we had to wait for 2021 to get here… And ClubHouse is valued at HOW MUCH? Why didn’t I think of this? Quick, what else can we democratise?!
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