For years, professional gamers and game streamers have dominated Twitch, attracting millions of viewers who wanted to watch people play video games all day long. And while many streamers on Twitch continue to produce gaming content, much of the platform has moved away from it.
In March 2017, Twitch added a category called “IRL”, which allowed streamers to broadcast while doing something other than gaming, such as cooking, walking around town, or just sitting in front of their camera to talk to viewers. The IRL category evolved and eventually split into multiple categories as Twitch attempted to label its content more accurately, resulting in the addition of the “Just Chatting” category in late 2018.
Unlike some of the other IRL-inspired categories, such as art and tabletop RPGs, Just Chatting proved relatively broad and allowed many streamers to talk to their audiences without having to play or do specific activity while streaming. Due to its broad appeal, Just Chatting has quickly become one of the most viewed categories on Twitch.
As of May 2020, Just Chatting has consistently been the most popular category across the entire platform despite brief periods when Escape from Tarkov, League of Legendsand Grand Theft Auto V attracted the most viewers. So why is Just Chatting so popular? There are a few reasons actually.
First of all, virtually anyone can make a Just Chatting stream. As long as they have an internet connection and maybe a camera or microphone, which aren’t technically required, they can stream in the Just Chatting category on Twitch. No game purchase is required either and even streaming software is not necessary in some cases.
But the relatively simple setup isn’t the main reason Just Chatting is so popular. In reality, many viewers just want to interact with streamers. Even in gaming categories, many viewers desperately want their chat message, subscriber alert, or donation to be read aloud by the broadcaster. So it shouldn’t come as a huge surprise that a category that encourages chat and streamer interaction is incredibly popular.
There are also a variety of different ways for Just Chatting streamers to entertain their audience. For example, Hasan Abi, one of Twitch’s most popular streamers, discusses politics and other current events with his chat. Hasan and other streamers also browse Reddit or watch YouTube videos and TV series with their chat, which doesn’t really fit into any category other than Just Chatting.
Some viewers criticized the “lazy” approach of Just Chatting streamers, saying they are not creative and often use other creators’ content to fill time during a stream. Other viewers also expressed outrage at a handful of female streamers, such as Amouranthwhich has pushed the boundaries of what counts as sexual content on the platform.
With thousands of streamers and many other viewers tuning in, regardless of the reviews, Just Chatting is probably here to stay.