What is Twitch’s TV meta and why is it controversial?

Virginia Glaze
Unsplash.com: Zach Vessels / Twitch

Live streaming platform Twitch is home to a slew of different ‘metas,’ with TV shows being one of them. But what exactly is the site’s popular ‘TV Meta,’ and why is it so controversial?

Twitch has been host to a variety of different ‘metas’ in the past. Essentially, a ‘meta’ is a trend that’s guaranteed to get views, seemingly taken from a term popularized by MMO games that stands for “Most Effective Tactic Available.”

In recent years, Twitch has seen a few ‘metas’ take over its platform. Trends like hot tub streams come to mind, which became so prevalent that the site had to create an entirely new category for those types of broadcasts.

While hot tub streams came under fire for seemingly skirting the platform’s guidelines, another meta also sparked a heated debate of a different sort — the TV meta.

Twitch’s Hot Tub Meta prompted the platform to make an entirely new category just for streams of this sort.

Essentially, this meta sees streamers watch television shows with their audiences… usually to the tune of thousands of viewers.

Series like Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares and Nickelodeon’s Avatar were extremely popular choices for streamers like Disguised Toast and Pokimane, who both copped bans over DMCA issues stemming from watching copyrighted shows with their audiences.

Therein lies the issue with this particular Twitch ‘meta’ — streamers risk bans for watching copyrighted content, similar to the music-related DMCA drama from years prior which prompted companies like Riot Games to create royalty-free albums specifically for streaming.

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Avatar became an extremely popular choice for Twitch streamers – until it resulted in a major ban for one of its biggest broadcasters, Pokimane.

Several top broadcasters have weighed in on the issue in the past. Names like Hasan Piker have warned their fellow influencers against streaming TV shows, with some even citing fears of another YouTube-style ‘adpocalypse’ if things went too far.

And things, indeed, did go too far; amid the height of the TV meta last year, it wasn’t uncommon to see channels running 24/7 broadcasts of television shows, including anime, the Simpsons, Family Guy, and more.

However, other streamers like Pokimane argued that Twitch should lean into the meta, while names like xQc didn’t see an issue with streamers ‘reacting’ to shows in the first place.

With top streamer Disguised Toast possibly bringing back Twitch’s TV meta with Naruto watch parties, it’s unclear whether the trend will come back as strong as it did before… but it’s certainly sparking conversation across social media in the interim.