This past Monday provided Aspen and I with a fresh opportunity to attempt a marathon stream on Twitch. Of course the last time we hosted a marathon stream was our 24-hour broadcast that left us battered and broken and excited for more. The Games and Grinds channel has grown quite a bit for the better of the past few months, and this Monday was a great time to put ourselves to the test. Our marathon may have been “only” 12 hours long, but we still learned a great deal while streaming, gaming with viewers, and cooking up a set of tasty dishes. Here is a quick breakdown of what we learned from our Memorial Day marathon:
Hawaii Standard Time may be the worst possible time-zone for streaming.
This isn’t exactly a new observation, but it was certainly something that was came up during this marathon. Hawaii’s time zone is 6 hours behind the east coast, and 3 hours behind the west coast. That large of a gap in time zones can make it incredibly difficult to match up our broadcast times with the availability of viewers. Sure, there are people online worldwide, but Monday we absolutely noticed a dip in viewers as we approached and passed 2:00 pm local Hawaii time. We see this phenomena fairly often with our weekly Tues/Thurs streams. By the time we get home from work and settled in to stream it’s already around midnight on the east coast. It’s difficult to build an audience while keeping those kinds of hours. Difficult, but not impossible.
Social media is the key to working around our time zone and building our channel.
A marathon stream with a smaller channel feels akin to fishing. A lot of time is spent entertaining yourself, hoping you can hook something to make your efforts worth the time. While we certainly had moments with a steady influx of viewers, we also went through dead periods with an utterly empty chatroom. After the marathon Aspen and I had a quick chat to discuss how we could improve our time-to-viewer ratio and one of the key improvements we figured we could make is to increase our social media presence while streaming. We have a Twitter account tied to our channel, we might as well use them outside of the occasional auto-post when we first go online.
If the fish aren’t biting your lone hook, throw a net out there and give the fish nowhere to hide. Given the plights of our time zone listed above, we can’t exactly afford to sit and wait for viewers to come to us. We have to go out and find them. To accomplish this we have to more or less live-tweet each of our broadcasts so we can fully promote our channel. It’ll take some effort to find the right balance between social-media, gaming, and viewer-interaction, but the results should prove to be worth it.
Viewers seem to love our channels unique elements.
In my experience on Twitch, if you can’t hook a new viewer in the first 30 seconds that they join your channel, you likely lose them forever. Maybe you can hook viewers with your streaming personality, maybe you can hook them with a good overlay/layout. For us, it seems our most effective way to bring viewers in is to stream together as a couple, and cook with a dual webcam layout. Once you get the ball rolling, it’s still a tall task to KEEP viewers in the run, let alone get a follow thrown your way, but I find if your hook is good enough you can spur plenty of conversation to keep people interested and invested in your channel.
Our marathon is at its best when we work on it together.
A purely personal observation, but worth sharing nonetheless. Running a streaming marathon can be a deceptively exhausting task. It takes an unexpected amount of energy to keep up with your game, viewers, setup, and (if you’re following our previous advice) social media. Aspen made it a priority to spend time on the Twitch dashboard during our last marathon and it made a world of difference. Her presence in the chatroom let off a bit of the need for me to constantly interact with viewers. It’s far easier to play a game to your best (and most entertaining) ability if someone has your back on the social side of things. Trust us, if possible, run a marathon stream with a partner and have a system.
Wii U streaming may be a sweet spot for viewers.
A lesser said aspect of filling a chat room is the fine balance between viewers and the number of channels in a given genre of games. While it’s a slightly generalized assumption, it would seem the most effective games that we stream are of the Nintendo persuasion. My purely biased assumptions? Most people at least appreciate, if not enjoy Nintendo games, but not as many are willing to make the financial commitment to enjoy such games themselves. We get quite a few active viewers commenting on our Nintendo streams, and a common theme among them is that they would love to own a Wii U at some point. Plenty of interested viewers and a relatively low number of streamers makes for a primed and ready market for streamers to pull in new viewers. Couple that with the nostalgic memories many gamers have for Nintendo games and you have a perfect storm with which to grow your channel.
The best kinds of viewers work FOR you, and we have them.
The right kind of viewers and followers can make a world of difference in your channel’s overall environment. So far we have had an excellent crop of followers ready to give us feedback on audio/video quality, welcome new viewers, celebrate new followers, start up conversations, and then some. I know you can’t pick your viewers, but you can absolutely acknowledge the golden ones and help them feel appreciated. If you happen to have such viewers stumble into your channel, cherish every little thing they do to help you become a better streamer. Trust me. Those are the ones that make the entire experience worthwhile.
That’s all for this list. There was plenty more that we could have shared, but at a certain point you have to make some cuts. Keep in touch with the blog for plenty more Twitch self reflection, and follow our channel to see everything in action. We’re going live tomorrow (Friday) to kick off the release of Splatoon, so maybe we’ll see you soon!