For years, pro gamers and gaming streamers dominated Twitch, attracting millions of viewers who wanted to watch people play video games all day. And while many streamers on Twitch continue to produce gaming content, a large section of the platform has moved away from it.
In March 2017, Twitch added a category called “IRL,” which allowed streamers to broadcast themselves doing something other than gaming, such as cooking, walking around town, or just sitting in front of their camera talking to viewers. The IRL category evolved and was eventually split into multiple categories as Twitch attempted to label its content more accurately, resulting in the addition of the “Just Chatting” category in late 2018.
Unlike some of the other IRL-inspired categories, such as Art and Tabletop RPGs, Just Chatting proved to be relatively broad and allowed many broadcasters to talk to their audiences without having to game or do a specific activity while streaming. Because of its wide appeal, Just Chatting quickly became one of the most-viewed categories on Twitch.
Since May 2020, Just Chatting has consistently been the most popular category on the entire platform despite brief periods in which Escape from Tarkov, League of Legends, and Grand Theft Auto V brought in the most viewers. So why is Just Chatting so popular? There are a few reasons actually.
First, basically anyone can do a Just Chatting stream. As long as they have an internet connection and maybe a camera or microphone, neither of which are technically mandatory, they can stream in the Just Chatting category on Twitch. No game purchase is required either and even broadcasting software isn’t needed in some cases.
But the relatively simple setup isn’t the biggest reason why Just Chatting is so popular. In reality, a lot of viewers just want to interact with streamers. Even in gaming categories, many viewers are desperate for their chat message, subscriber alert, or donation to be read aloud by the broadcaster. So it shouldn’t be a huge surprise that a category that encourages interaction between the chat and streamer would be incredibly popular.
There are also a variety of different ways Just Chatting streamers entertain their audience. For example, HasanAbi, one of Twitch’s most popular streamers, discusses politics and other news events with his chat. Hasan and other streamers also browse Reddit or watch YouTube videos and TV series with their chat, which doesn’t really fall into a category other than Just Chatting.
Some viewers have criticized the “lazy” approach of Just Chatting streamers, claiming they’re not creative and often use other creators’ content to fill time during a stream. Other viewers have also expressed outrage at a handful of female streamers, such as Amouranth, who has pushed the limits of what is deemed sexual content on the platform.
With thousands of broadcasters and many more viewers tuning in, regardless of the criticism, Just Chatting is likely here to stay.