Twitch is inching ever closer to becoming a full-fledged social network. The streaming site just announced a new feature called Pulse that amounts to Twitch’s version of the Facebook’s News Feed or Twitter’s timeline.
Anyone with a Twitch account, both broadcasters and viewers, will be able to post updates that will show up on the Pulse feeds of their friends and followers.
While anyone can post to Pulse, the idea is to make it easier for streamers to reach their core audience. Instead of cycling through each streamers’ channel page, Twitch fans can just land on the site’s homepage and see the latest updates from their favorite broadcasters.
Twitch envisions that these posts will include schedule alerts, best moments from a previous gaming session, and so on. Pulse should also make it easier for viewers to see who’s live and who’s not at a glance. Posts can be text, links, or images, as well as video embeds from Twitch, Vimeo, and YouTube.
To start, all posts will show up on a user’s Pulse feed in chronological order. In the future, Twitch says it’s working to “determine the best way of surfacing posts” beyond just a chronological stream.
To create a post, Twitch users must use the new Channel Feed feature that should be available to all users by mid-March. Pulse, meanwhile, is rolling out right now. If you don’t see Pulse when you login to Twitch, the company says it should show up for everyone in the coming weeks. Pulse is also coming to Twitch’s mobile apps.
The story behind the story: While Twitch has likely been working on Pulse for some time, the roll out follows a mini-controversy from January. In late 2016, Twitch introduced a new channel called IRL (“In Real Life”) that built on a trend from Asia. On IRL, streamers can interact with their followers without playing a game. The new channel prompted popular Twitch streamer Professor Broman to complain that it’s already too hard to separate real life from broadcast life on Twitch, and IRL might make it worse.
Whether you buy that argument or not, it stirred up online discussion about the downsides of being a full-time Twitch streamer and the need to be “always streaming” so as not to lose their audience. That’s why Pulse is so important. It should make it easier for streamers to keep their audience engaged with channel news even if the broadcaster takes a little time off camera.