Chat is a big part of Twitch's appeal. It lets you interact with streamers, communicate with other viewers, and otherwise make the service feel like a shared experience instead of a traditional broadcast. Soon the service will let you recapture that participatory sensation on its uploaded videos.
Twitch's primary focus is on live-streams, but in 2016, it started to beta test more traditional uploads like the ones you find on other video platforms. That way streamers could let people know what their channels are about, preserve some of their greatest hits, and give viewers something to watch outside of their normal live-streams. The only thing missing was chat--and even that's going to change soon.
Chatting about these uploads won't be like commenting on a YouTube video. Twitch said that "your interactions will be timestamped and baked into the experience for all future viewers to see" if you engage with an uploaded video. The idea is to combine the best of both features: Let people take part in the quintessential Twitch experience while also making things a little more flexible by making viewers plan around live-streams.
Streamers might fear that letting people chat about uploaded videos will create more work for them. Viewers can say whatever they want--it's up to the streamer or dedicated moderators to make sure those discussions remain civil. Doing so for the duration of a live-stream is one thing; doing so when people can comment on uploaded videos whenever they like is another. Twitch addressed those worries in its blog post:
If you’re a streamer or a mod, don’t worry, you’ll have the full arsenal of chat moderation tools available to keep your uploads clean. Some chat settings will carry over automatically, and there’s a new Moderation tab on your Dashboard that Channel owners and Moderators can use to review messages, track replies, and respond to viewers as they discuss your videos.
This is the latest example of how Twitch has kept busy over the last several months. In February it revealed plans to take on Steam with Twitch Games Commerce; in March it introduced new Pulse social networking tools, released a new desktop app, and expanded the availability of 1080p 60fps streams; and in April it announced a Twitch Affiliate Program to help streamers make the transition from "hobbyist" to "professional."
Now it's also expanding the presence of its social features while simultaneously reducing its dependence on live-streams. And it's doing so quickly: Twitch said the expanded chat will "begin rolling out today on select channels" and that "all channels will have access in the coming weeks."