Hosting is a popular way for Twitch streamers to broadcast another channel's live stream to their own audience. It's usually done as a way to help promote other Twitch users but it also doubles as an effective strategy to keep a channel active while an owner isn't broadcasting their own content.Ach5 / Colleen Tighe
Twitch streams can be viewed on the official Twitch website and via one of the official Twitch apps available for iOS and Android devices, Xbox 360 and Xbox One video game consoles, Sony's PlayStation 3 and 4, Amazon's Fire TV, Google Chromecast, Roku, and the NVIDIA SHIELD.
How to Start Hosting Another Streamer
There are three ways to host another streamer: by chat, through the Twitch app, and via auto host.
Hosting by Chat
To begin hosting another channel, simply enter /host into your own channel's chat followed by the target channel's username. For example, to host the official PAX Twitch channel, you'd enter /host pax. The hosted channel can be changed up to three times every half hour. To turn off hosting, type /unhost.
Hosting via the Twitch App
Hosting can also be activated from within the iOS and Android Twitch apps by tapping the gear icon on the selected channel and choosing the Host option from the drop-down menu.
Hosting via Auto Host
The most common way to host a channel is to auto host it. This is done by adding a variety of channels to a list that your channel will automatically select from when you go offline. The auto-host feature can choose channels on the list randomly or via their order (which can be customized).
Setting up auto hosting is easy. Go into your Twitch Channel Settings, turn on auto host, and then add as many Twitch channels to your host list as you want.
It's important to save your changes every time you update the settings or the channels on the host list.
Benefits of Hosting Another Channel
Hosting another user's stream is completely optional. There are no hosting requirements to be an active member of the Twitch community. However, there are several reasons why hosting is a good idea.
Aside from showing your audience what sort of streamers you enjoy, hosting offers promotional opportunities for your channel. How much promotional value you get depends on the target channel's layout, whether it displays the name of hosts onscreen, and if the streamer verbally mentions hosts. Hosts' names will always appear in a special message with the target channel's chat.
Being a host for another channel will also keep your account prominently displayed within the Live Hosts category of the Twitch website and apps. This can lead to new users discovering your account and potentially following you.
Taper Off Your Stream
Hosting another channel is an easy way to end your own stream. Many Twitch streamers manually begin hosting someone else as soon as they end their broadcast, often encouraging their followers to jump over to the hosted channel. This is referred to as "raiding" and is a very common practice on Twitch.
Disadvantages of Hosting Another Channel
Despite the benefits of hosting, there are also several reasons many choose not to host other users.
Less Prominent Communication With Audience
When hosting another Twitch channel, any away message you've designed for your channel will be hidden and replaced with the video of the broadcast being hosted. You'll need to post messages to your regular audience somewhere else on your profile, in a less-prominent position.
Content Could Be a Bad Match
Hosted channels can be chosen only by user, not game or subject. This can be a problem when a channel plays a game that's a bad match, such as one aimed at an older audience when your followers expect family-friendly titles, or simply a game from a radically different genre. When hosting, you entrust the content of your channel to someone else.
VOD May Be a Better Option
If you're looking for a way to keep your channel active, Twitch's VOD (Video-On-Demand) feature is a better tool for building and keeping your own audience. VOD works similarly to hosting but plays a recording of one of your previous streams. Your channel stays active with your own content.
Users can download the VOD to keep in their personal library.
How to Get Other Twitch Streamers to Host You
Since being hosted on Twitch is a great way to gain more exposure, it's worth encouraging other streamers to host you on their channels.
Add a Host List
One way to encourage others to host you is to add a host list to your Twitch layout. By adding a dynamic list of people who are hosting you to your stream, viewers will be encouraged to host your broadcast as a way to promote their own accounts. This can be set up very quickly via free services such as StreamLabs.
Ask Your Friends
While asking complete strangers to host you could be considered spam, most friends would be more than willing to host your channel when they're not streaming.
Ask Your Viewers
In addition to reminding viewers to follow and subscribe during your broadcast, make a point of asking them to host you, as well. Many Twitch users are very passionate about the streamers they follow and would love to support their favorites however they can. A simple reminder can be very effective.