What is Twitch? Everything You Need to Know About Twitch.tv

Many of you might be asking what is Twitch. With so many ways to watch and share live videos these days, it’s tough to keep up with the latest and greatest.

This platform has been recently been ever more present in modern entertainment media and for good reason.

With Twitch Squad Streams introducing many new users to the platform, it's time we breakdown what it really is.

Twitch What is it?

Have you recently heard of Twitch? If you’re new to the world of Twitch, you may have questions:

  • What is Twitch TV?
  • What is the Twitch app?
  • Twitch is a spinoff of what website?
  • Why should I watch Twitch when I have about 15 million other video streaming options?

Well, 15 million may be an exaggeration, but you’re right. Before you create a Twitch account, you need to find out what Twitch is all about. We’re here to help you get a grip on ‘what is Twitch?’

For starters, Twitch.tv is a free live streaming platform with a constantly expanding global audience.

In August 2021, nearly 7.5 million unique Twitch viewers watched over 2.3 billion hours of video, according to TwitchTracker.

Despite being less than ten years old, Twitch.tv has met with tremendous success and continues to amass more and more viewers and streamers.

While Twitch is the world’s leading video game streaming service, the Twitch platform also features an increasing amount of content unrelated to video games. Real-life videos such as talk shows, music, tutorials, podcasts, and more are found on Twitch.

How does Twitch work for viewers and streamers? Take a look at our guide to everything you need to know about Twitch.tv.

What is a Twitch Stream?

What are Twitch Live Streams?

Twitch.tv is all about live streams. Anyone can create a Twitch account and channel surf on Twitch. Open up the Twitch.tv Home Page, and you’ll get a glimpse at the viewing possibilities.

Twitch organizes each channel into categories. Each video game streaming channel fits under the respective game’s category, such as Super Mario 64, Microsoft Flight Simulator,  or Minecraft. For non-video game channels, there are broader categories such as Food & Drink, Talk Shows & Podcasts, Makers & Crafting, or Fitness & Health. Simply punch in whatever category interests you in the search bar or hit Browse in the top navigation bar to find something new.

Once you start watching a Twitch live stream, you’ll have the opportunity to join in on the conversation using Twitch’s chat room and direct messaging features.

Twitch Chat Rooms

Each Twitch channel features its own unique chat room. As the viewer, you can choose whether or not to participate. Even if you don’t have a Twitch account yet, many channels allow public chat room access.

If you click in the chatbox to start typing, you will first have to read the Chat Rules and agree to follow them. Each streamer establishes his own parameters for the chat. For example, a streamer may ask you not to use any profanity, remind you to keep your interactions friendly, and ask you to refrain from self-promoting on their chat.  

Chat rooms are the primary way Twitch community members interact with one another. Most Twitch streamers interact with their audience on the chat room feature as they stream, often verbally acknowledging comments from viewers.

Some streamers choose to open their chat room only to followers or provide private chat rooms for subscribers only. To access these, you’ll need to follow or subscribe.

Direct Messages on Twitch

If you would like to send a private message to someone on Twitch, you can use Twitch’s ‘Whisper’ feature. You must have a Twitch account to access direct messaging on Twitch.

If you sign in to your Twitch account, you’ll see a button in the shape of a word bubble at the top of your screen next to the Get Bits button. From there, you can search for the username of the person to whom you would like to send a direct message.

What is a Twitch Streamer?

Subscribing to an Individual Twitch Channel

Watching Twitch.tv is free. However, as your Twitch community’s involvement increases, you’ll likely want to subscribe to more channels.

With Twitch, rather than subscribing to the video platform as a whole, you subscribe to individual channels. How many channels you subscribe to and who you subscribe to is completely in your jurisdiction.

Since watching videos is free on Twitch, why subscribe at all?

First, subscribing is an important way to show support for your favorite streamers. Accepting subscriptions is one of the main ways that creators can make money on Twitch. Second, a channel subscription will allow you to unlock special subscriber benefits you don’t get as a free viewer.  

The subscriber’s experience depends on the stream’s creator since creators can offer several different perks to their subscribers. Benefits include gaining access to the streamer’s custom emotes, subscriber-only chat rooms, giveaways, channel-specific badges, exclusive streams, etc.

How to Access Twitch

How to Access Twitch

Like YouTube and some other popular video streaming services, it’s free to start watching Twitch.tv.

All you have to do is go to Twitch.tv and click on a video. At the top of the Home Page, the carousel will autoplay an alternating live stream to expose you to newly trending content.
Once you decide you’d like to see more of Twitch.tv, sign up to create an account. However, Twitch’s terms of service do not allow individuals under the age of thirteen to open an account. Additionally, while Twitch offers filtering on chats to block inappropriate content, Twitch does not provide parental controls.

“The Twitch Services are not available to persons under the age of 13. If you are between the ages of 13 and the age of legal majority in your jurisdiction of residence, you may only use the Twitch Services under the supervision of a parent or legal guardian who agrees to be bound by these Terms of Service,” explains Twitch.

Creating a Twitch account is free and provides access to several unavailable features to viewers who do not have an account, such as the use of Twitch Bits and the ability to make subscriptions.

When you purchase a subscription to a channel, you can choose from three subscription tiers with varying monthly fees.

Twitch channel monthly subscription tiers:

  • Tier 1 - $4.99/month
  • Tier 2 - $9.99/month
  • Tier 3 - $24.99/month

Twitch will split your payment 50/50 with the streamer receiving your subscription. Each subscription tier provides you access to additional emotes and badges unique to the channel and ad-free streaming. 

Twitch Prime Subscription

Twitch Prime Subscription

In the past, Twitch offered its video streaming services independently.

However, in August 2014, the CEO of Twitch.tv posted an important update for the Twitch community on Twitch’s blog. “I’m pleased to announce we’ve been acquired by Amazon,” he said, adding “We chose Amazon because they believe in our community, they share our values and long-term vision, and they want to help us get there faster.”

Now that Twitch Interactive is a subsidiary of Amazon, viewers can subscribe through Prime Gaming.

“Every month, get exclusive in-game loot, free games, a free subscription on Twitch.tv, PLUS everything included with Amazon Prime,” says Prime Gaming regarding the benefits that come with a subscription.

There are two main ways to sign up for Prime Gaming. The first way is through Amazon Prime, and the second is through Twitch.

Here’s how to get a Prime Gaming account from Amazon:

  • Go to Prime Gaming
  • Hit ‘Try Prime’ to start a free 30-day Prime Gaming trial
  • Plug in the info you need to create an account
  • Start gaming
  • Subscribe to your favorite channel
  • Pay $12.99/month or cancel after your free trial expires
Here’s how to sign up for Prime Gaming through your Twitch Dashboard:
  • Go to Twitch.tv
  • Create a free Twitch.tv account
  • Click on your profile picture on the top right of the screen and then select Settings in the dropdown menu
  • Once you’re on your profile, use the profile navbar to find Prime Gaming
  • Click on the ad to ‘Try Prime Gaming’
  • Follow steps 2-6 listed above under how to get a Prime Gaming account from Amazon

Whichever method you choose to sign up for Prime Gaming, you’ll enjoy the same benefits.

With your free Twitch.tv subscription that comes with your Prime Gaming account, you’ll be able to subscribe to your favorite streamer. Amazon will pay the fees for you. Every month, you can choose to subscribe to the same channel or swap to a new one.

Beyond subscriptions, another way to show support for your favorite streamers is by using Twitch Bits.

What Are Twitch Bits?

What Are Twitch Bits?

Twitch Bits are Twitch’s in-house currency. By opening a Twitch account and logging in, you’ll have the option of purchasing Twitch Bits. You can buy Bits and use them as a

‘virtual cheers’ to show your support for the streamers you love.

You can spend Twitch Bits in a channel’s chat room. Every time you use a Twitch Bit, you’re actually sending money to the streamer and showing how much you appreciate his stream. Generally, the streamer will earn 1 cent per Bit you send, so if you send 100 Bits, they get 1 dollar. Use Bits to celebrate special moments on a stream and express your enthusiasm as a viewer.

“The more Bits you Cheer with, the more expressive the Cheermote animation, and the more Badges you’ll unlock. You can even be recognized as a supporter on a Top Cheerer leaderboard in channels where the streamer has turned the leaderboard on,” says Twitch.

To purchase Twitch Bits, simply login to Twitch and locate the Get Bits button on your screen’s top right. Alternatively, you can buy Bits by viewing a live stream, opening the chat room, and clicking on the gem-shaped button next to your type text.

You can purchase anywhere from 100 Bits to 25,000 Bits, depending on your budget and how much time you plan to spend on Twitch. First-time Twitch Bit buyers get a nice discount, so your introduction to Twitch Bits will be relatively low-risk. 

Twitch Donations

Twitch Donations

Many streamers on Twitch choose to set up a way for their fans to donate toward their channel.

Maintaining a Twitch channel costs time and money, so receiving donations is one way streamers can help cover those costs.

For example, gamers looking to make a career out of gaming need monetary support to pay for their overheads such as games, game consoles, controllers, gaming chairs, etc. Since streaming consistently takes a lot of hours, they also need funds to justify dedicating that sort of time to their channel.

If you watch a Twitch channel that you find seriously entertaining and you want to make sure the streamer has what he needs to keep producing the content you love, you can show your appreciation with a donation.

Typically, streamers will set up a Donate button, which can be found on their channel’s page or below the live stream video.

If you are a streamer looking to set up a donations feature on your channel, you can find a third-party site that allows you to receive donations, such as Paypal, and link it to your stream.

How to Start Streaming on Twitch

How to Start Streaming on Twitch

If you have content to share and want to curate your Twitch community, starting your own stream is easy.

Before you start live streaming, go in, and customize your Twitch profile. Add a profile pic, write a bio, and provide links to your social media accounts. As you set up your profile, think about what will appeal to your target audience, and provide information to help future fans get to know you as a streamer. Don’t forget to add your streaming schedule and stick to it.

Once you’re all set up and like the look of your profile, it’s time to start streaming. Click your profile photo in the top right of the screen and choose Creator Dashboard from the drop-down menu.

From the Creator Dashboard, Twitch will run you through a crash course on streaming with video guides and give you access to the tools you need to start streaming, including streaming software.

After starting your first stream, you’ll be on the road to Twitch Affiliation and even Twitch Partnership.

How to Become a Twitch Affiliate or Partner

How to Become a Twitch Affiliate or Partner

Twitch has set two critical goals for all Twitch Creators: joining the Affiliate and Partner Programs. Both programs open the way for Twitch streamers to earn money on Twitch by accepting subscriptions, advertising, receiving Twitch Bits, etc.  

Becoming a Twitch Partner is the ultimate goal of any serious streamer since it offers premium monetization opportunities. Still, the path to partnership requires dedication. Before qualifying as a Twitch Partner, you must become an Affiliate.

To qualify as a Twitch Affiliate you must:

  • Broadcast at least 500 total minutes in the last 30 days
  • Broadcast on at least 7 unique days in the last 30 days
  • Average 3+ concurrent viewers or more over the last 30 days
  • Have at least 50 followers

Once you unlock Affiliate status, you can work toward achieving a Twitch Partnership.

To be eligible to apply for a Twitch Partnership, you must:

  • Broadcast at least 25 hours in the last 30 days
  • Broadcast on at least 12 unique days in the last 30 days
  • Average 75+ concurrent viewers or more over the last 30 days

In comparison, YouTube’s partner program, which allows streamers to start making money from advertising, requires streamers to have 1,000 subscribers and 4,000 hours of public watch hours to qualify.

For gamers, gaining Partnership on Twitch may be easier than on YouTube since the gaming community has such a broad audience on Twitch, so it is easier to start growing your channel.

What can you do to start growing your Twitch channel?

An Easy Way to Grow Your Twitch Channel

Beyond organic growth through rigorous streaming, social media posts, and community networking, you can grow your Twitch channel by using a third-party service to get more Twitch followers.

Using TwitchGainz.com, you can jump-start your stream by offering viewers and followers the opportunity to earn money by watching or following your channel.

Here’s how to start getting free Twitch followers:

  • Sign up – it’s free!
  • Acquire GEMS by engaging with other user’s channels or by purchasing.
  • Offer GEMS to other users in exchange for engagement with your channel.
  • Sit back and watch your channel grow.

With TwitchGainz.com you get real, human followers who choose to watch your channel and have the potential to become a fan.

The Bottom Line

Twitch is a live video streaming realm full of possibilities for both viewers and creators. From finding your favorite channels and sending Twitch Bits in chat rooms to streaming your best hours of gameplay for the world to see, you’ll discover Twitch is a dynamic and engaging platform.  

Now that you know how to create an account, subscribe to streams you love, and start broadcasting your own videos, it’s time to sign up and see where Twitch takes you. You may become a Twitch Affiliate or even Partner before you know it.

Don’t forget to maximize your channel’s potential by using TwitchGainz.com to grow your channel along the way.