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Twitch Sees Significant Growth From In Real Life Streaming in 2018

By The Numbers

  • Total Hours Watched in 2018: 540M (IRL and Just Chatting).
  • Total Hours Watched in 2017: 207.96.
  • Most-Watched Day: June 3 with 2.43M hours watched.
  • Peak CCV: 159.69K on May 29 when Bethesda released a Fallout teaser on its official channel.
  • Most-Watched IRL Channel: Chance “Sodapoppin” Morris with 49.85M hours watched.
  • Most-Watched Just Chatting Channel: Chance “Sodapoppin” Morris with 8.26M hours watched.

Max Miceli

Twitch’s  “In Real Life” or “IRL” category experienced a huge re-work in the fall of 2018 as the platform realized that more streamers were not only using it, but using for a plethora of different reasons.

At the end of September, the category was divided into several new categories including “Just Chatting,” “Sports and Fitness,” “Special Events,” “Food & Drink,” and “Talk Shows & Podcasts.” Before that point, IRL content on Twitch consistently drew some of the strongest viewership week-to-week in 2018 and regularly competed with some of the most-watched games on the platform.

Despite the division of one of Twitch’s most-watched categories, the momentum of IRL wasn’t stalled. If anything it served as a catalyst for its growth. As soon as IRL was divided, “Just Chatting” emerged as one of the most popular forms of content. Streamers regularly began streams by “Just Chatting” with their viewers before they started to get into whatever game they were playing.

Some streamers like Chance “Sodapoppin” Morris even began to expand the scope of what the category could be, and despite just three months of existence, the Just Chatting category on Twitch managed to sneak into rankings as one of the top 10 most-watched types of content for all of 2018. When combined with the success of IRL prior to it’s extinction, the two personality-driven forms of content made up 540M hours watched on Twitch, enough to be the third most-watched category on the platform.  

It wasn’t solely Just Chatting that saw use on the platform either. While Just Chatting was by far the most used subcategory, the other 12 categories that were born from IRL elicited airtime from streamers.


Even though IRL was removed from Twitch on Sept. 26, its 388M hours watched was enough to deliver a massive year-over-year net positive for the category. Without even existing the last three months of the year, IRL had around 180M more hours watched in 2018 than it did in 2017 (207.96M). In just three months, the Just Chatting category alone drew 151.17M hours watched.

The exponential growth of IRL justified its division into sub-categories, but even after the split, Just Chatting averaged more hours watched per month than IRL. As more streamers look to grow their viewership by maintaining interactive communities, the necessity to “just chat” with subscribers and fans has become increasingly important.

Unlike many forms of entertainment, Twitch is most known for its game-driven content and its interactive interfaces. The maturation of Just Chatting and IRL is the most tangible sign of Twitch’s continued growth. Despite its short life, viewership for Just Chatting notably increased in 2018. That was paired with a significant increase in total airtime as well—a sign that influencers are aware of the trend.

Influencer Impact 

IRL is all about the influencer; there isn’t much in the way of esports that comes with “real life” content unless its a Twitch personality giving their thoughts about a recent gaming tournament. Morris seems to have mastered the art of interacting with his viewers in a unique and personal way that keeps them coming back. Not only was he the most-watched IRL streamer, but he led the Just Chatting category once it came into existence. In fact, his channel accounts for eight of the top ten IRL or Just Chatting sessions in 2018.  

As more streamers continue to use Just Chatting—as well as Twitch’s other non-game specific channels—as a way to interact with their chatroom and grow a sense of community among viewers, the opportunity for personal growth and increased sponsorships will proliferate throughout the platform.

While the battle royale craze and Fortnite  have dominated Twitch in 2018, the life of any specific game as a form of personality streaming content is historically limited. As Twitch evolves, the personalities that thrive are the ones that are able to adapt and maintain viewership with their personality—not just their skill at a specific game. This new category’s success and rapid growth are an indication that streamers are becoming privy to the opportunities that are associated with…well…just chatting.


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