Next big thing: Watching people eat online?

SEATTLE • Twitch Interactive, the video-game streaming service Amazon.com acquired for almost US$1 billion (S$1.36 billion) two years ago, hinted at what could be the next sensation in Internet broadcasting: watching people eat.

Dubbed "social eating", the practice is popular in South Korea and is picking up steam in the United States, Twitch chief executive officer Emmett Shear said on Wednesday at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference in San Francisco.

It is a difficult pastime for people in the US to initially grasp, he acknowledged, but it is gaining traction, along with rising demand for non-gaming content.

Disbelief about the growth potential for Twitch, a platform for watching people play video games, has taught him not to discount something he does not understand, he said.

"I'm cautious about writing anything off," he said in an interview on Bloomberg TV.

"I think it could be huge."

A Twitch streamer with the user name Hacklyn was having a bowl of soup on Wednesday morning, with about 20 people watching live. She was listening to music and chatting with people about relationships while they watched her dig in.

Investors have been watching to see how Amazon integrates Twitch's highly engaged audience of video-game enthusiasts - numbering 10 million daily users - with its offerings in online shopping and streaming video and music.

As the company further seeks to combine services from its businesses, could the next big step be streaming video of a gaming champion eating a box of cookies delivered via an Amazon drone?

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 16, 2016, with the headline 'Next big thing: Watching people eat online?'. Print Edition | Subscribe