What you need to become an internet streaming star

BBC Technology 30 Jul 2020 11:06
By Nell Mackenzie Business reporter
Iain Lee at his deskImage copyright Iain Lee

Via guesswork, Google and a bit of trial and error, Iain Lee thinks he has the right equipment to broadcast his new show with Katherine Boyle.

The show is not on the radio, instead the pair broadcast on Twitch, an internet-based service mainly used to watch people play computer games like Fortnite.

No longer just the host, Mr Lee is now the studio manager, camera and lighting operator, plus sound engineer who films, edits and mixes the show.

"I love doing the buttons and the faders and all the technical stuff. I don't understand it, but I'm a big fan of failure. And oh, do you feel alive when there's an audience and it's going wrong." says Mr Lee, who was once a BBC radio presenter.

The new show required some new equipment.

He had to buy a PC, because his iMac was not much good for playing games on. A decent camera was also purchased to stream live and record him and Katherine Boyle on their chat show, The Late Night Alternative, which launched earlier this month.

His Elgato game capture device will help broadcast his video game playing.

But Mr Lee's favourite purchase is the £69 ($90) microphone arm. It is spring loaded, clips to the desk and swivels silently without bouncing.

Mr Lee is getting kitted up because he has just joined 7.1 million other streamers who came to Twitch this past month, wanting to create TV from their own home.

Image copyright Logitech

Computer accessories companies like Corsair and Logitech have been snapping up many of the smaller firms that make streaming related broadcasting equipment.

Bracken Darrell, Logitech's chief executive, says that he realised streaming was a business opportunity the moment that customers began using their mice, keyboards and webcams to broadcast video games on YouTube.

"You can't put the genie back in the bottle," he says.

"People want better sound, video, a better way to share - it all went through the roof as soon as people started to be at home," Mr Maier says.

Mr Darrell believes that the technology for streaming has a long way to go before it's for everyone.

Image copyright Claire Lim

She started 18 months ago, playing Red Dead Redemption 2, while chatting via an old webcam.

Now as a Twitch partner, she broadcasts on the platform full time, switching seamlessly between several different graphics backgrounds, mixing audio and calling out and reacting to her followers.

She says that instead of a single TV show, she presents as if she were broadcasting an entire channel.

Image copyright Claire Lim

Elgato is another company, recently acquired by Logitech's competitor, Corsair, that has seen its fortunes benefit from the rise of streaming during lockdown.

His father Markus Fest founded the company 20 years ago but it was around the time that Twitch began, in 2012, that Elgato entered streaming.

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"And they all came back with the same response, oh, I'm recording my Xbox, I'm recording my PlayStation and uploading it to YouTube," says Mr Fest.

As for Mr Lee, he says the show is "going great guns" and the tech is holding up.

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Mr LeeKatherine Boyle