The Amazon-owned video-game broadcasting service is launching a live 24-hour food channel at twitch.tv/food, kicking it off with a four-and-a-half day marathon of all 201 episodes of Child’s 60s-era “The French Chef” cooking show.
For Twitch, the offbeat, retro programming is an attempt to further broaden out from its traditional gaming fanbase. The new food channel is part of Twitch Creative, which the company launched last fall to provide a place for users to broadcast their creative endeavors. Twitch ran a similar marathon of Bob Ross’ “The Joy of Painting” last fall to promote Twitch Creative, and continues to stream full-season marathons on Mondays.
“Bob Ross showed we can reach a bigger audience (beyond gaming),” said Bill Morrier, head of Twitch Creative.
While most of Twitch’s monthly audience of 100-plus million come to watch the live action of top players of “League of Legends,” “Counter-Strike: Global Offensive” and “World of Warcraft,” the site wants to lure in other creators whose passions are pursuits like painting, drawing, photo editing, composing music or cooking.
Still, Morrier said, Twitch Creative will remain a curated service focused on building communities of interest: “We are not a general-purpose live-streaming site.”
The Bob Ross “The Joy of Painting” marathon attracted 5.6 million unique viewers and achieved a peak concurrent viewership of 183,000 viewers, according to Twitch. That response led the site to decide to stream one season of “The Joy of Painting” on twitch.tv/bobross from 3-9:30 p.m. PT every Monday.
Twitch is hoping the “French Chef” promo will similarly jump-start the Twitch Food channel, which following the Julia Child marathon will host cooking-related shows. Child, who died in 2004, hosted “The French Chef” program from 1963-73 on public television. Twitch will live-stream all episodes of the show starting at 2 p.m. Pacific on March 15 (the anniversary of the year Julia Child graduated from Le Cordon Bleu in Paris).
The Twitch Food channel will carry curated, prerecorded content (not user broadcasts). The company will sell ads for the channel and $5 monthly subscriptions for additional features, such as the ability to use emoji in live chat.
The live nature of Twitch is a huge part of its appeal, Morrier said. “The deal is the synchronicity,” he said. “Everybody watches it at the same time and interacts in real time.”
Besides the novelty factor of Julia Child’s show, Twitch wants to inspire users to whip up their own how-to live cooking programs on Twitch Creative. Several Twitch personalities have already embraced the live format for showcasing their kitchen skills, including DomesticDan, vegan chef FakeGamerGirl, Goldamsel, WorkingChef, Lulaboo and CookingForNoobs (who, in a neat crossover, has created food art based on Bob Ross paintings).
Twitch’s bread and butter, to be sure, remains live broadcasts and chats about video games. The service has more than 1.7 million individual broadcasters, with 8.5 million daily active users as of January 2016 (up 20% from a year earlier) who watch 106 minutes of video daily. About 13,000 broadcasters are members of the Twitch Partner Program, which lets them sell ads, subscriptions and merchandise.