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Twitch CEO Emmett Shear: “People need to connect online”

Twitch CEO Emmett Shear. Stay-at-home orders have boosted viewership.

Twitch CEO Emmett Shear. Stay-at-home orders have boosted viewership. Eoin Noonan/Web Summit for Getty Images

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As people look for more pastimes in order to, well, pass the time, streaming services and video games are having a moment. And then there’s Twitch, a platform that combines the two.

Twitch is best known as the place where people can watch other people play video games in real time. In the age of social distancing, more people than ever are tuning in.

“We’ve seen a pretty significant increase in usage,” said Twitch CEO Emmett Shear in an interview with Marketplace host Kai Ryssdal. “It’s a 57% increase for the four weeks post-social distancing versus pre-social distancing.”

According to the website Twitch Tracker, viewers watched over 1.79 billion hours of streaming in April, up from 1.2 billion in March. But while the numbers may seem pretty great for the Amazon-owned company, are they likely to stay as high once concerns over COVID-19 have receded?

Shear is looking forward to the economy reopening, not dreading it.

“It has been good for Twitch because, with everyone sheltering at home, we have a lot more need for our service,” Shear said. “Suddenly, people need to connect online. They need to find community. And I think a lot of people will find once they start using Twitch, this is a good supplement to their real-world engagement.”

Click the audio player above to hear the interview.

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