Defining Variety Broadcasting
Before we get started, it’s probably worth pointing out what I think a variety broadcast actually is. The term comes about as a reference to variety shows, entertainment programs that were made up of a number of distinct acts. Instead of focusing on a single plotline, variety shows drew on different snippets of story and entertainment medium, carried out by a troop of actors and performers and organized by a common host.
The modern analogue in the world of streaming is a channel where a variety of different games are played from day to day, usually spanning a number of genres and styles. Rather than focusing on a single game that is played nearly every broadcast, variety streamers play what they like, when they like. They act as the host, exposing their audience to a shifting array of games that they choose to play. I’ve seen the extreme of this on Twitch, with broadcasters literally cycling through multiple games over the course of a week or even during an individual day of streaming. But most variety streamers tend to play a game to completion before moving on to the next, or work through a few longer games simultaneously, switching between them as they desire.
Variety streaming is one of five major categories that I tend to group streams into. These are: Single Game Streams, which build into the hype and following of a game, playing it almost exclusively Hype Chase Streams, which jump between popular new releases as they have their heyday on Twitch Speedrun/Professional Streams, where the main attractor is high level play of a game or games Creative Streams, which focus primarily on making art, music and Variety Streams which are primarily focused on playing a different game regularly, with no focus on hype.