Live-streaming is taking off, culturally speaking. More people than ever are familiar with the concept — whether that’s from Instagram Live (which is currently having its own moment) or Twitch. Mixer, Microsoft’s live-streaming service, has had a number of high-profile successes lately, signing streamers with huge audiences like Tyler “Ninja” Blevins and Cory “King Gothalion” Michael to exclusive agreements. Today, it’s debuting a new look for its homepage and a bunch of new features to every streamer on the platform, with an eye toward growing its community and increasing on-platform discoverability.
Mixer’s homepage redesign, which rolls out later today, is going to lean heavily on featured content — think recommended streams of specific games or community events — and it will also provide AI-personalized recommendations. (There will also be an editorial hand in the mix.) As far as specific features go, Mixer is rolling out auto-hosting, higher-quality emotes, more control over ad breaks for partners, partner badges on the homepage, and improvements to watching Mixer on Xbox, clip creation, and notifications.
While many of these new features are mostly quality-of-life improvements, they should cumulatively have a large effect site-wide for both streamers and viewers. Auto-hosting, for example, allows streamers to host channels that are live on their page while they’re not streaming; it’s been a core Twitch feature for years, and its function is to improve discoverability. If you’re surfing around a site and you see a streamer you like featuring someone you haven’t seen before, there’s a good chance you’ll probably like the hosted channel, too (which means you’ll spend more time on the site). The new ad breaks are similarly interesting because it looks like Mixer might be giving its partners more control over ads than their counterparts on Twitch. Though, in practice, that remains to be seen.
These improvements feel like they’re coming a little late but nevertheless at a very good time: the COVID-19 pandemic is keeping entire countries inside, and there’s not much else to do than surf the internet in the meantime. Hopefully, it’ll boost viewership on the platform, which might improve morale among Mixer employees. According to OnMSFT, a nonaffiliated blog, Mixer’s original founders recently left the business, along with a general manager and a corporate VP. On top of that, Mixer has suffered layoffs of a quarter of its team and budget cuts.
A leaked video surfaced in late February on Business Insider, which suggested that Mixer’s new general manager, Shilpa Yadla, wasn’t necessarily equipped to address what would be a crisis of morale at any other company. “Either you want to complain and nag or whatever and feel negative about everything,” Yadla said in the video. And then, later: “I cannot tolerate negativity.”