“274! Oh god. » Half euphoric, half stunned, the amateur videographer at the controls of the Twitch channel xXen_os counts the people watching him play live on Thursday, August 4. The young man in his twenties who was active in video games at the time Xenoblade Chronicles 3 is not used to such an audience: “I always got five or six viewers [spectateurs]and often friends. So it wasn’t the same. I’m shaking here! » he exclaims in a joking tone.
This anonymous found himself in the limelight by surprise thanks to PetitStream.com. This site broadcasts live content from French-speaking Twitch channels with fewer than five viewers. For ten minutes, the users of the site (up to 400 or 500 people at the height of the day) all arrive at the same time on a channel chosen completely at random. They are invited to watch the channel, comment on it, discuss with the videographer, who is generally not used to arousing so much interest. Before everything disappears at the end of the countdown, you collectively zap towards the next small channel chosen by Petit Stream. In short, a 2022 version of the famous “Warholian quarter of an hour”.
The unequal distribution of views on Twitch
The purpose of Petit Stream is to encourage these videographers with a trusted audience while introducing the public to new channels, explains World Jean-Philippe, its creator. The idea sprouted in the head of this 33-year-old Twitch fan after reading an article from World released in 2021 and titled “In the recesses of Twitch, the world touching spectatorless streamers”. A statistic struck him: 95% of streamers produce content for five people or less.
He laments the gulf that separates a gondola-headed minority on the Amazon-owned platform and the invisible majority that empowers it. “Some are not lucky enough to be promoted when they are already very professional. They have designed skins and are very comfortable in front of the camera”, describes the auto contractor who developed the project in his spare time. A project that he explains does not want to make money.
Launched stealthily on July 30 and shared without fanfare on r/france, the main French-language page of the wildly popular Reddit discussion forum, the site immediately generated enthusiasm. To the point that the server dedicated to Petit Stream on the Discord online messaging system attracts 1,600 people in less than a week.
“What is your favorite salad?”
The dynamism of the fans is evident in the chat on the Twitch pages displayed on the Petit Stream. Asked by curious and enthusiastic viewers, questions for streamers pour in: What games do they recommend? How old are they ? Where do they live ? Or more unexpectedly, “What is your favorite salad?”. A recurring topic, first launched as a joke, which today sparks major discussions.
Spectators are also responsible for explaining to confused streamers what is happening to them. “We’re coming to spend ten minutes with you, and we’re not robots!” warns a message published on Friday, August 5 in the chat. In fact, some disbelieving streamers imagine that the unexpected increase in views is due to “bots” who generate fake views on Twitch and may be annoyed by them. Sometimes phlegmatic when they try to stay focused despite the influx of spectators, often surprised to be the object of such attention, the streamers (for a large part) above all are always very moved to benefit, even when the time is ten minutes, with a popularity usually enjoyed only by their own idols.
And then, at the end of the ten-minute countdown, Petit Stream zaps. That’s the game! Its audience is then automatically redirected to another account. But these few minutes are enough for some streamers to seduce their short-lived audience, who sometimes stick around or even subscribe. “With luck I’ll make it to fifty [abonnés] », xXen_os hopes. Mission accomplished at the end of its passage under the spotlight. He is also happy to see that out of the more than 270 people connected, about sixty have chosen to stay on his channel to listen to him talk about his overflowing passion for Japanese RPGs.