VoD streams are always-online live streams that broadcast recorded content. Hogging viewers and hiding streamers, these not-so-live streams recently became an issue in the Valorant section on Twitch. Popular streamers, Summit1g and Asmongold, both spoke on how VoD streams hurt Twitch.
VoD streams and Valorant
VoD streams aren’t new, but their newfound popularity may become a pressing problem. Recently, livestreamers were given exclusive access to the closed beta of Riot’s highly anticipated shooter, Valorant. Viewers could win access to the beta by watching streamers play the game. Valorant streams dominated Twitch on release day.
Desperate to participate in Twitch’s most recent trend, gamers would leave unattended computers tuned in to livestreams all day long. The issue with earning access as part of the idle audience is that streamers will eventually log off to eat or sleep. Ineligible to earn a key from an offline stream, viewers migrated to streams that are always online. Now, automated streams compete with the most popular livestreamers for the throne at the top of the Valorant section.
Exploiting Twitch’s architecture, VoD streams are being promoted to browsing viewers. Twitch encourages streamers by advertising popular channels in the most-visible spots. Assuming the most appealing streamers will always have the most viewers, Twitch is designed to present the most-viewed channel first. Valorant’s popularity and exclusivity fueled the popularity of VoD streams. Always online and accumulating an audience of idlers, VoD streams can consistently compete with streamers for the most-visible spots. Upset with Twitch’s inaction, Asmongold spoke on behalf of many struggling live streamers:
“A lot of friends of mine are playing Valorant, trying to get discovered or at least trying to have a fair shot. [Their channels are] being buried by a video, and that should not be allowed on a live streaming platform.”
VoD streams break the terms of service that broadcasters agree to adhere. In his video, Asmongold shared a past experience about asking a Twitch administrator if streaming sleep was allowed. The administrator told Asmongold he would be allowed, however, the stream must be unlisted from a category because it is non-interactive content. VoD streams are listing themselves in gaming categories, but are broadcasting non-interactive content. Extrapolating what Asmongold was told, VoD streams are breaking Twitch’s terms of service.
The first thing a viewer sees on Twitch
VoD streams are predatory and unrepresentative of Twitch. Replacing viewer interaction with misleading titles, some VoD streams have taken advantage of their exposure. Asmongold expressed his distaste for tricks with titles, scolding VoD streams for their tactics to “deceive people into thinking that it’s a live stream” to gain viewers. Viewer interaction is a key characteristic of livestreaming, yet it is absent in the VoD streams topping Twitch. Asmongold believes that “video content really shouldn’t have a place on Twitch over live content” because it isn’t what Twitch is intended for:
“What kind of impression does it give a new viewer to go to a stream and to be immediately deceived by a streamer?” Asmongold said, also adding that VoD streams are “intentionally deceptive, they’re misusing the services on the website… and it’s harming other creators and the website’s growth in the long run.”
If Twitch doesn’t act, its long-term health will be hindered by short-term gain. Live broadcasts of popular gaming events attract new viewers to Twitch. When the excitement around an event dies down, so does the viewer count. Before the new viewers leave, Twitch has the opportunity to grow its overall viewerbase by enticing them to return. Asmongold recognized this and said that “Twitch has an opportunity right now with Valorant to convert a lot of casual viewers and people who are just Riot Games fans to actually being Twitch watchers.” With some of the highest view counts in Valorant, VoD streams are making the first impressions, not a streamer. A live streamer “might try and convert [a new Twitch user] into being a Twitch watcher,” argued Asmongold, but the first thing a new user sees is “something that’s not live and is intentionally deceptive.”
One of the most popular Valorant streamers, Summit1g talked on stream about concerns about the implications of promoting VoD streams:
“What about the streamers that are there putting in work while the streamer on top of the category doesn’t even have to?… At least be there for your job… [they are] taking everyone else’s potential growth”
If Twitch wants to maintain a healthy audience long-term, they will have to act against promoting VoD streamers. What do you think should be done to keep live streaming ahead of recorded content on Twitch? Follow Slashshout on Twitter and let us know.