Twitch kicks off new Food channel with massive Julia Child cooking marathon

The late maven of French cuisine gets a four-day marathon. Can she top Bob Ross?

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After teaching gamers about the Joy of Painting, Twitch is turning to classic cooking with Julia Child.

Starting at 2 p.m. Pacific time on Tuesday, Twitch will stream all 201 episodes of The French Chef, Child’s trailblazing cooking show that originally aired from 1963 to 1973. Just as Bob Ross won gamers over with his mellow approach to landscape painting, Twitch hopes Child’s charm will reel people into the world of French cuisine.

Just as importantly, Twitch is trying to boost the visibility of its Creative channel, in which users can watch people paint, draw, compose, cook, decorate, and code in real time. Food now has its own branch within the Creative channel, and in announcing the marathon, Twitch calls out several of its biggest cooking personalities, some of whom have taken on streaming as a full-time job or have been hired directly by Twitch.

That’s not to say Twitch’s focus on gaming is slipping. In addition to the Julia Child news, Twitch also announced an initiative called Stream First that encourages game makers to build live streaming features into their work. Potential tools include UI tweaks that easy for viewers to see, ways to invite viewers into coop sessions, and in-game experience point rewards for watching a live stream.

The Stream First initiative comes a month after Amazon’s launch of Lumberjack, a cross-platform game engine that has a couple of Twitch integration features built-in. (Amazon acquired Twitch for $970 million in 2014.)

Why this matters: If there’s a common thread here, it’s that Twitch wants to be about more than just passively watching people play games and make stuff. While chat has been part of Twitch’s streams from the beginning, the company is really trying to push the interactive angle of its service, whether it’s cooking alongside an accomplished chef or determining the outcome of a game. At some point, the stream has more influence on the art than vice versa.

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