Twitch — Amazon’s video streaming service known for airing live matches between gamers — is consecutively streaming all 201 episodes of “The French Chef” in a bid to widen its audience.
Every month, more than 100 million people go to Twitch, a video-streaming service known for airing live matches between people playing League of Legends, Counter-Strike and dozens of other games.
On Tuesday evening, an interloper entered the Twitch fray for a marathon video-streaming session — Julia Child, the legendary chef and television personality who died in 2004.
Over four days, Twitch plans to consecutively stream all 201 episodes of “The French Chef,” the groundbreaking cooking show hosted by Child that aired for a decade, starting in 1963.
The event is a peculiar mash-up of one of the Internet’s leading destinations for gamers and a cultural icon who introduced U.S. television audiences to beef Wellington, crêpes suzette and other dishes. It is part of a budding effort by Twitch, acquired by Amazon in 2014 for nearly $1 billion, to cultivate viewers interested in all forms of creativity, whether sewing, sculpture or cooking, not just those who want to watch virtual orcs getting slain.
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The Julia Child marathon, which will inaugurate a new food channel on the site, also reflects a relatively recent insight by Twitch into its audience. While many Twitch visitors come to communicate with the people they’re watching through chat rooms that accompany the videos, that will obviously not be possible in the case of Child. Instead, Twitch is betting that many of its viewers want to chat with each other.
“We always had this idea that it’s critical to be able to talk to the broadcaster,” said Bill Moorier, head of Twitch Creative. “There are some cases where the community just enjoys interacting with itself while enjoying prerecorded content. That’s what we’re experimenting more with.”
Twitch decided to double down on recorded videos after the improbable success of a weeklong streaming session featuring the landscape painter Bob Ross. Starting last October, Twitch aired the entire archive of “The Joy of Painting,” the show narrated by the honey-voiced Ross as he completed canvases, more than 400 episodes in all.
About 5.6 million viewers in total watched the marathon over the course of the week,.
Equally impressive was how lively the conversation was around the show.
Some viewers jokingly chided Ross, who died in 1995, for not responding to their chat messages. Others blended gamer jargon with their commentary. Whenever an episode ended, Twitch’s chat room invariably filled with the letters “gg” — slang for “good game,” a valediction online gamers use at the end of a match.
In all, Twitch says viewers sent 7.6 million chat messages during the marathon.
With Twitch, live commentary is much more tightly integrated with the experience of watching video, which makes audiences feel more as if they are in a single place, rather than scattered around the Internet.
T.L. Taylor, a professor of comparative media studies and writing at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, believes that makes the discussion around Twitch events especially dynamic.
“The community is building memes,” she said. “They’re coming up with their own frames of reference and comedy on the fly.”