Picture shows part of the team behind DW News Hangout: Project lead Daniela Späth, co-hosts Marcel Aburakia and Nehal Johri, host Madelaine Pitt, and technician Felix Fiedler.
Part of the team behind DW News Hangout (left to right): Project lead Daniela Späth, co-hosts Marcel Aburakia and Nehal Johri, host Madelaine Pitt, and technician Felix Fiedler.
Best Practice

DW News Hangout: Lessons Learned on Twitch

Can journalistic content succeed on a video live streaming platform that is mainly popular among gamers? DW Lab decided to give it a try. These are our insights from a three-month pilot phase on Twitch.

Why try out Twitch in the first place? There are three main reasons:

  • Twitch is popular: it counted 2.8 million average concurrent viewers in 2021; a growth of 31% compared to previous year (source: twitchtracker.com

  • Twitch is young: 72% of its users are younger than 35 years (source: Statista)

  • Twitch is interactive: the platform is all about the community and offers many fun communication tools to engage with viewers in real time

Our Twitch format

Together with colleagues from DW News, Audience Development, Sales & Distribution and Content Realization, we launched the DW News Hangout: During the livestreams two hosts discussed news and current affairs with the community. The streams didn't only contain hard facts, but also banter. The infotainment format focused on dialogue: Users could join the discussion via chat and other interactive elements such as quizzes or polls. The live streams were aimed at 18-29 year-old US-Americans. For three months, we went live twice a week–for at least two hours.  

Put personality first

Before the start of the project, we put a lot of effort into finding a suitable host for our format knowing Twitch to be a particularly personality-driven platform. We looked for native or near-native speakers of English (due to the US target audience); they also needed to be spontaneous, authentic, and funny. We preferred candidates with podcast experience over candidates with TV experience. And we learned that being able to improvise is more important than being able to read out a script. Eventually, Madelaine Pitt became the face of DW News Hangout. She was supported by changing co-hosts.

Authenticity pays off 

Yes, we were new to Twitch and had to google some of the abbreviations in the chat. However, we were transparent about it and got to know the Twitch community and its habits better and better, stream by stream. We learned: Connecting with the community is part of the process.

Community is key

We took every single viewer seriously: Were they joining the chat for the first time? We welcomed them to our stream. Did someone in the chat have a question? Our hosts answered quickly and we had a team of community managers live and ready to support in the chat. We wanted to create a space where everyone felt comfortable, as a part of the community, able to join the conversation at any time. Dialogue at eye level.   

Try to get on Twitch's startpage

Being featured on Twitch's startpage is a great thing that will definitely help to push your channel. The main effect: You suddenly get a lot of attention and thousands of live viewers. However, don't expect exceptional follower growth.

Raids help build your community

The best way to grow our audience (follower count) was through raids. We had, for instance, a cooperation with Twitch streamer Giancarlo Fiorella, who's an investigator and trainer at Bellingcat, a Netherlands-based investigative journalism group that specializes in fact-checking and open-source intelligence (OSINT). Thanks to his raid (thanks again, Giancarlo!) we gained a lot of new followers in one single livestream. At the end of the 3-month pilot phase (and after 24 streams), DWNews_Hangout had 1096 followers. 

Content is king 

Just because we thought a topic was cool didn't mean the Twitch community was particularly interested in it. We learned that niche topics (like OSINT or chess) can attract a lot more viewers than general discussions. No guarantee, though!  

Marketing is King Kong

Guess what: Nobody knew DW was on Twitch. So how could we make users aware? We decided to consistently promote our shows on platforms where Twitch users spend a lot of time when they're not on Twitch–e.g. Reddit.  We learned that in order to get more reach, marketing on other social media platforms is extremely important.

What's next?

We love Twitch's many interactive features, and we love engaging with its community in real-time. We're now  thoroughly analyzing our pilot project and discussing whether its infotainment/dialogue format is something that DW can commit to in the long run. After all, we're really keen on tapping into new audiences.

Special thanks go out to the rest of the DW News Hangout team: Madelaine Pitt, Till Boller, Maximiliane Koschyk, Peter Rölle-Dahl, David Peter, Felix Fiedler, Sebastian Kath, Marie Joslyn, Marcel Nadim Aburakia, Nehal Johri, Fatima Hudoon, Clare Trelawny-Gower, Darius Platt-Vowles, Andy Giefer, Michaela Cavanagh, Alexandria Sahai Williams, Alina Fichter, and other supporters

Daniela Späth
Marie Kilg