Anyone can turn their stream into a talk show with Twitch’s new guest star mode – TechCrunch

Twitch wants to make it easy for creators to pull guests into their live streams, talk show style — and anyone can be a creator.

The company announces Guest Star, a new feature that plugs into existing streaming software and allows stream hosts to bring up to five guests to a stream and switch them in and out seamlessly.

Through Guest Star, streamers can invite anyone with a Twitch account to join a stream from desktop or the Twitch mobile app. Creators can host and manage their guests directly in Twitch Studio or OBS, the tool of choice for many of the app’s more advanced streamers.

The feature will initially roll out to a small, invitation-only group of Twitch users who are already active in the Just Chat scene — the booming Twitch category where streamers hang out casually rather than focusing on games . Starting this fall, streamers who want to try Guest Star will be able to sign up for a beta and receive ongoing access. Later this year, Guest Star will be accessible to all Twitch users.

The company envisages its community using Guest Star for formats such as game shows, advice columns and radio-like sports chat shows. Eventually, unlike Twitch’s Squad Stream feature, which allows four creators to live stream together but they must be Twitch affiliates, Guest Star will be available to all users, regardless of how prominent they are on the platform. The decision to add all users to the group suggests that Twitch is expanding its focus from its highest-earning creators, an elite subset of its users who bring in over half of the platform’s revenue.

Voice or video chat only

Creators who want to invite guests live can either invite them directly or enable a mode that allows requests, à la show of hands in Clubhouse or Zoom. Guests who receive the nod will receive a pop-up notification that they can click to join to go live on the stream.

Guest Star supports video but also allows creators to host voice-only streams. Even if hosts want to live stream video themselves, they can toggle a setting to have guests on audio only and disable their cameras before joining.

Chat apps have skyrocketed during the pandemic, and Twitch has likely realized its community needs more tools to enable the kind of casual, fluid social spaces that have made the voice-only app Clubhouse a hit. In late 2020, Twitch introduced a feature called Watch Parties, which allows developers to watch streamed Amazon Prime videos together.

The Just Chatting Twitch category has also exploded since the pandemic began. Comparing the first five months of 2022 to the first half of 2020, hours viewed in the category skyrocketed 151% and Just Chatting creator revenue increased 169%. The number of live hours from Twitch accounts that primarily streamed in the category increased by 68%.

The company expects streamers to use the new feature for content like AMAs, coaching sessions, and even political town halls.

“From a creator-to-creator standpoint, we [view] This is a great opportunity for developers to work together,” Christopher Miles, senior product manager at Twitch, told TechCrunch.

He noted that for streamers used to browsing Reddit threads and managing unreliable connections with third-party software, Guest Star will be a big step forward in making their streams more collaborative.

Guest Star and Security

Because the product is “interactive” even by Twitch standards, Guest Star integrates some of the platform’s latest security tools to make the experience as smooth as possible. While Guest Star is designed to showcase followers and subscribers – not just other creators – the host and any mods they work with have complete control. This includes deciding who gets invited to a stream, whether they can use their camera or just their microphone, whether they can share their screen, to controlling their audio levels. Guests who break the rules can be quickly kicked out at any time.

When deciding who to spotlight via Guest Star, creators and mods can see who in the channel is a possible ban breaker, a known harasser, or an otherwise suspect user who may be prone to misbehaving. Twitch introduced a new security feature to automatically detect and flag suspicious users back in November, and that technology is now woven into the new streaming format.

In the Guest Star tool, mods and creators can see a bird’s-eye view of user behavior right in the invite window, including the time a user has been a follower and previous messages they’ve shared in chat. Creators working with many moderators can determine which mods have the authority to manage Guest Star and push guests live.

Guest Star also has its own virtual green room where anyone tapped as a guest can do an audio and video check and hang out until it goes live. Mods and hosts can easily send guests back to this waiting area at any time, and they can also be whispered live to facilitate behind-the-scenes communication and coordination.

Because Guest Star connects directly to Twitch, guests who are disruptive or violating the platform’s rules can be reported – something Twitch sees as an advantage for Guest Star over third-party workarounds.

“Creators are already doing all these interesting things,” Miles said. “Twitch wants to make this easier and safer.”

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