Weird things happen when Twitch’s core audience meets the mainstream. Twitch is mainly known as a popular video platform for live-streaming video games, but when it experimented by streaming every episode of Bob Ross’s “Joy of Painting,” the fans participating in the live chat alongside the stream developed their own set of nostalgic, enthusiastic memes. During a stream of “Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood,” the chat begged Mr. Rogers to stay at the end of each episode, and politely thanked each guest who showed up on the show to teach the audience something new.
On Wednesday, Twitch announced the latest mainstream, long-running show to meet its audience will be “Saturday Night Live.”
Beginning Thursday, Twitch, in a partnership with NBC, will stream 16 hours of SNL sketches spanning the entire run of the series, in two eight-hour chunks that will repeat (you can watch here). The sketch show’s 43rd season ends on Saturday night, and the streaming will end shortly before it airs. Twitch’s release did not specify which sketches would air, but did say the stream would include “memorable” sketches from “classic and modern episodes,” up to and including the current season.
(Twitch is owned by Amazon. Amazon chief executive Jeffrey P. Bezos owns The Washington Post.)
“Similar to Twitch chat, ‘Saturday Night Live’ serves as live commentary on pop culture and current events,” Jane Weedon, Twitch’s director of business development, said in a statement.
On Twitch, that commentary will become meta. There is the live chat that will run alongside the stream. Individual Twitch creators will be able to “co-stream,” the marathon, which basically means hosting a virtual viewing party for their own audiences, with their own commentary.
If you are curious what to expect, all we can promise is . . . chaos.
Twitch chats are not a monolith. They can feel like the best and worst of the Internet, shoved into the same quick-fire stream of text and emoji. Even as the Mr. Rogers and Bob Ross streams produced beautiful moments of kindness, both chats were also infested with sex jokes about any female guest on either show, for instance.
The viewers in the chat room will inevitably meme themselves into a world of their own creation, with increasingly clever and impenetrable jokes and callbacks.
It will be interesting to see what Twitch and NBC deem worthy to air on the platform.
Twitch has been expanding its content coverage. Most notably, Twitch’s Bob Ross marathon pulled in 5.6 million unique viewers.
SNL also experimented with its format at the end of last season — by going live coast to coast for the first time, for its final four episodes.