Digital live-streaming services in general and Twitch.tv in specific is changing the broadcasting landscape, and the viewing experience with it. Interactive elements and user participation through a chat feature is changing the way the viewers are consuming and interacting with the content of the broadcast. Simultaneously, second screening and cross-media experiences are an emerging trend for traditional broadcasters, where third-party platforms are utilized for user involvement and participation. As such, this thesis has investigated how user participation is influencing the viewer experience at Twitch, and how the perception of the chat phenomenon is differing from user to broadcaster.
With an interpretivist approach and qualitative methodology, the thesis is based on seven semi-structured interviews: Five with users of Twitch in the age group 12 to 19 years old, and two interviews with key employees from the Danish broadcasting company TV 2, who has established a permanent esports broadcasting concept. TV 2 provide the same content as Twitch and cater to the same target group, but the provided participatory elements differs greatly. At TV 2, the user participation is based on the use of Twitter and Facebook, where the viewers are encouraged to send questions, pictures, discuss, and comment on the broadcast. On Twitch, the chat is integrated as a part of the broadcast.
To answer the research question, the thesis has utilized pre-established concepts identified in the literature as well as existing theories. Ford et al. (2017) has introduced the term crowdspeak to explain the act of large-scale interaction at Twitch, where hundreds of messages can occur every other second. The high-volume of messages causes the viewers to primarily post emoticons or abbreviations, which is found to be compelling and meaningful to the participants, equivalent to cheering, clapping, and chanting in a physical setting at a sports stadium. The social motivators for this kind of user participation has been identified as entertainment, sense of community, and social interaction (Hilvert-Bruce et al., 2018).
The user study of the thesis showed, that the crowdspeak phenomenon is an important factor for the viewer experience. The users perceive the chat as the foundation to why Twitch is providing a sense of community, as well as a feeling of watching the games together with others, even though the individuals are alone in a physical context. It was established, through the use of social contagion theory, that the Twitch chat is a social contagious environment, capable of influencing the emotions of the viewer and making them act in the same way as the majority of the audience. The fast, live, and high-volume elements of the Twitch chat was found to have a positive influence on the viewer experience, which in general was rated higher than the viewer experience at other platforms.
The perception of the Twitch chat was different in the eyes of the employees of CS:GO at TV 2 Zulu. In this case, the high-volume chat messages were primarily perceived as noise, and as an element that is hard to control and secure a good tone throughout. Additionally, the findings showed an integration concern as the broadcaster was skeptic towards how to integrate a similar chat feature as Twitch provides. From TV 2’s perspective, their role as a broadcaster should not be the facilitator of a live interactive chat feature, but rather focus on their core product of journalism, and provide high-quality content. Thus, it was found that the crowdspeak phenomenon is not present on TV 2’s platform, as they provide user participation based on their ability to control what other viewers are exposed to.
The different perception of the value a chat feature adds to a broadcast was analyzed using domestication theory. The users of Twitch were found to have domesticated the concept of chatting while watching, while this was not the case for the participants of TV 2. The domestication process is tightly connected to the perceived relevancy for the individual, and this relevancy was not found for Hvid and Alstrup of TV 2. This is a natural element in a domestication process, as the domestication happens in different order and velocity based on contextual use, physical setting, device, and relevancy for the individual (Christensen, 2019). With domestication theory, the media technology concepts must be integrated to pre-established structures and routines of the users’ environment, become embedded in the mind, and accommodate to how the individual’s view themselves. The difference between being a user of Twitch and a broadcaster with a journalistic background has in this context proven to be the factor of a different perception and domestication process.
|Uddannelser||MSc in Business Administration and E-business, (Kandidatuddannelse) Afsluttende afhandling|