It is estimated that 73.1 million people tuned in to this week’s bitter presidential debate between Donald Trump and Joe Biden. While that is good news for the networks, advertisers should be aware that hundreds of thousands also watched the ill-tempered clash on Twitch.

The video live-streaming service, which was acquired by Amazon for almost $1bn in 2014, has traditionally catered for gaming and esports with popular webcammers providing live and unadulterated commentary.

More recently, however, Twitch has been trying to recruit non-gamers in a bid to position itself as a hub for discussion about politics, culture, cooking and other topics, The New York Times reported.

The popularity of the platform is growing, according to software service Streamlabs, which has calculated that viewers watched five billion hours of Twitch content in the second quarter of 2020, up 83% year-on-year.

The tenor of Tuesday’s debate was so disappointing that even Dana Bash, CNN’s chief political correspondent, blurted out live on air that she thought it was a “s*** show”.

However, such instant and heartfelt language is one of the features of Twitch, whose presenters delivered their own unrestrained commentary during the debate while their fans responded by sending messages in a live-chat scroll.

Mizkif, for example, a Twitch streamer with 640,000 followers, concluded that Biden was “so boring” that he “needs to talk like a YouTuber. Trump knows how to talk like a YouTuber”.

Meanwhile, on the “Chapo Trap House” Twitch channel, which has nearly 63,000 followers, one host commented that following the debate was like “trying to watch a subtitled movie when you’re drunk”.

Advertisers may have to start paying more attention to platforms like Twitch as the presidential election campaign continues through to the beginning of November and as more budgets are devoted to political news broadcasts in the absence of major sporting events and new movie releases.

Sourced from The New York Times, Variety