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Twitch opens to vloggers with launch of “IRL,” mobile broadcasting to come next year

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After slowly testing the waters with non-game related content, Twitch is officially opening its doors to vloggers. The company today is debuting a new content category on its site called “IRL,” which is where Twitch creators can broadcast anything about their life, communicate with fans, and share their opinions. In addition, because IRL broadcasting is the sort of thing Twitch creators may want to while they’re out and about, Twitch says it will introduce live broadcasting from its native mobile application starting next year.

For some time, Twitch has been experimenting with different types of content.

Last fall, it launched a channel called Twitch Creative, where Twitch broadcasters could show off their artistic endeavours, which were often game-related, like drawings, paintings, songs, costumes, and more. It also streamed classic TV shows, like those from Bob Ross and Julia Child. It debuted parent company Amazon’s TV show pilots on its site, too. It even launched a “social eating” category to cater to its South Korean users.

Twitch Creative has done fairly well, having attracted close to 100,000 unique broadcasters, the company tells TechCrunch.

However, despite these expansions, Twitch was still largely in control of what sort of non-gaming content the service would host. Today’s launch of IRL changes that a bit, as video broadcasters can talk about whatever they want for as long as they want.

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Of course, many will still focus on gaming in these more personal videos – perhaps live streaming from a trip to a gaming convention, or sharing their opinions on game industry news and happenings. Twitch says it has updated its community guidelines in preparation for the launch of IRL, which kicks off this afternoon with a livestream of a product announcement at 2 PM PT on twitch.tv/twitch_scar. 

The company stresses that this expansion doesn’t mean it’s trying to be Justin.tv, referring to the live streaming site that let anyone broadcast video.

“Justin.tv was a platform created to stream random content, while Twitch has always been hyper-focused on the community and their wants,” a spokesperson noted. “The infrastructure, features and monetization approach of Twitch are also light years ahead of JTV including the ability for streamers on Twitch to monetize their channels with the introduction of the Partnership program…,” they added.

Partners can monetize this content through ads and subscriptions, like the other videos on Twitch’s site.

Fewer details were offered about Twitch’s plans for mobile broadcasting, beyond the fact that it would roll out an update to its apps in 2017 that would allow users to go live directly from their phone’s camera.

The live streaming space, of course, is already rife with competition from tech’s biggest names, including Facebook with Facebook Live, Twitter with Periscope (now integrated into Twitter itself), and Google with YouTube. But that means it’s also becoming a baseline feature for any video service, too.