IRL or ‘In Real Life’ streaming is the OG of all live streaming forms.
Did you know? The first live stream ever was in fact an IRL stream – a music gig by a band of a couple of computer scientists and engineers from Xerox PARC, called Severe Tire Damage. Their colleagues built a niche network called Mbone or Multicast Backbone, and their show in the US could be viewed by people as far as Australia. This was back in June 1993.
The second live stream? Again an IRL stream in the year 1995, of a baseball game by the internet company, RealNetworks. They made the first media player capable of live streaming – RealPlayer.
From music and sports games in the 90s to YouTube Live in the 2000s to Twitch and Periscope in the 2010s, streaming has come a long way. With streaming, the definition of IRL streaming has also evolved.
If you’re a new streamer, or an established gaming streamer, who is thinking of starting IRL streaming, you’ve come to the right place! This article has a comprehensive list of the top 13 IRL stream ideas to get you started.
But first, let’s also quickly look at what is IRL streaming.
What is IRL Streaming?
IRL or ‘In Real Life’ streaming refers to any stream which has elements of real-life people, objects, and event(s). On Twitch, IRL categories are those that give emphasis to activities outside of gaming.
IRL streaming includes categories like Travel & Outdoors, Cooking, Live Sports, Art, and the relatively new categories, Just Chatting, Podcasts, ASMR, Hot Tubs, Pools, etc. Basically, apart from Games and Esports, all streams are considered IRL. On Twitch, even Music is now a separate category not covered in IRL.
IRL streams are usually done vlog style, with a running commentary by the streamer to add context to the events. They usually require a lower spec setup as compared to a gaming stream, and a lower starting threshold.
Some examples of IRL streams include people showing the place where they live, covering a cultural or local festival, cooking a new dish, creating a new painting, etc.
Top 13 IRL Stream Ideas
Without further adieu, here is a list of the top 13 IRL stream ideas you can stream on. I have organized this list on the related Twitch category, along with follower stats for your reference.
- Just Chatting: Just Chatting remains one of the undisputed leaders when it comes to Twitch categories, with 19 Million followers, as of May 2022. Just Chatting stream can be used when you’re discussing a topic, doing a Q&A, or just a free flow vlog-style stream.
💡 Start a tutorial or how-to stream on a new topic you’re learning about. The best Just Chatting streams are the ones where the viewers feel they have taken something from the video. The greater the value for time spent, the better the stream is!
- Music (Earlier called Music & Performing Arts): Music definitely warrants its own category with the kind of following it has, with over 8 Million followers. Again a great space to explore and build your following if you like to make music, play music, or sing. Music streaming has given way to even new music genres like lofi getting created.
💡 Create your own new genre of music or launch your new albums the way The Weeknd did in 2010 on YouTube!
- ASMR: With 3.7 Million followers on Twitch, it is one of the “hot” categories out there, with a lot of competition, but a lot of audiences as well.
💡 Think about the kind of sounds you enjoy, and make that the source of inspiration for your next ASMR stream. Some unique ASMR stream ideas include a live reading of a story like in your childhood, peaceful water globes and other water sounds, rhythmic chanting or tapping, or creating art with slime.
- Art: With 3.1 Million followers, this is one of the niche categories on Twitch, where you can build a community of like-minded people with an interest in art quickly.
💡 If you’re an artist with skills and/or interest in digital art, painting, illustrations, comics, animation, or photography, this is your playground. You can do a teaching stream like Bob Ross, or a live stream as you learn or create art.
- Talk Shows & Podcasts: With 3.1 Million followers, this is one of the up-and-coming categories on Twitch. People are now into podcasts, as they represent the new age of radio.
💡 Start a podcast on a topic you have the expertise or extreme interest in, so it becomes a sustained activity. Some unique podcast ideas would include interviewing other streamers about their origin stories and growth hacks they can share, covering climate change action stories, perspectives on current affairs, etc.
- Sports; Fitness & Health (Earlier clubbed as Sports & Fitness): Both Sports and Fitness & Health deserve their own categories as Sports focus on live sporting events and commentary, whereas Fitness & Health is more about gym or at-home workouts. They are now split into their own separate categories. Combined, the two categories have a total of 1.6 Million followers, out of which Sports has 1.4 Million followers.
💡 Within the Sports category, I would recommend starting with a niche like local sports matches and scaling it up to bigger events like NBA season, FIFA, etc. To establish your expertise, you can even participate in a few games and stream them.
💡 For Fitness and Health, create a follow-along style of a stream with a calendar of workouts, so you can stay disciplined and create a consistent set of followers and viewers as well.
- Special Events: While this category is meant for special events like TwitchCon, E3, or announcements and co-streams with gaming companies, on other days, people use this tag to celebrate their Twitch anniversary and what-not. Special Events has 849k followers.
💡 Keep a lookout for special events like a game launch, or an anime release, especially the ones where the production company also hosts it on Twitch, and include these events in your calendar well in advance. For example, when League of Legends’ Arcane was released on Netflix, they let Twitch streamers co-stream it on Twitch.
- Food & Drink: From cooking to eating, this is the place where all food and drinks enthusiasts hang out on Twitch. With over 789K followers, this is again a good niche category to stream in and build up your followers on.
💡 If you’re a rookie cook, you can try creating a cooking expert persona and making the food stream more fun! While you’re acting, try learning along and becoming an actual expert as well. Think up someone like Uncle Roger, a personality created by Nigel Ng.
- Science & Technology: This is a great niche again, with new developments and things happening in the world of Science & Technology every day. With over 685k followers, this is a great niche as well.
💡 You can cover topics like software development, science experiments, or even studying and breaking down a complex topic as you study along. With Science & Technology, possibilities are vast, so you can go broad-based or focused on one topic.
- Makers & Crafting (Earlier called Hobbies & Crafts): This is as niche as it can get for DIY project enthusiasts with 536K followers. If you’re doing a DIY or crafty person, there’s great scope to not only stream, but also use platforms like YouTube, Pinterest, and Instagram to later upload the videos.
💡 For DIY, it’s best to go from project to project, based on what you’re working on at home too. So if you have, for example, a new gardening project coming up, that can be your focus area for the next few weeks or months. Idea is to make it easily applicable in your viewers’ lives as well, so they can follow along if they want to.
- Travel & Outdoors: Even though Travel & Outdoors has a relatively less number of followers on Twitch, around 410k followers, it tends to have more live viewers per channel. Japan, the most common suspect, is indeed the highest streamed and most-watched place in this category.
💡 An interesting idea can be a Day in the Life, where you stream during different hours of the day how you’re spending your time, either in your hometown or a place you’re traveling to. Like any other category, you just need to be consistent and show your work on other platforms as well.
- Beauty & Body Art: With 169k followers on Twitch, Beauty & Body Art will also be a niche category if you’re looking to build a following on Twitch. With a smaller number of viewers, you may have to do a lot of off-platform promotions to get people to build your community. But on other platforms like Instagram, this could be a great category to opt for!
💡 With Beauty & Body Art, you can cover seasonal routines, or base your routine on the time of the day. Just remember, with this category, many people would want to see these videos on demand. So make sure to upload them on different platforms.
- Tabletop RPGs: RPGs have their own fan following, and this is again a niche category to stream your favorite tabletop RPGs. The category has 146k followers.
💡 You can keep trying out new Tabletop RPGs as you play them along. Make sure to make it fun and engaging for your chat!
Did Twitch get rid of IRL?
In 2018, Twitch removed IRL and Creative categories from their directory. In its place, Twitch added 10 new categories with a more specific description of the stream.
Now, Twitch IRL consists of Just Chatting, ASMR, Special Events, Talk Shows & Podcasts, Pools, Hot Tubs & Beaches, Politics, Sports, Fitness & Health, and Science & Technology.
You can check out the entire Twitch tag directory to add additional relevant tags to your stream.
IRL is a great streaming genre to go for if you’re a beginner or want to take a break from your regular gaming streaming. It adds variety to your stream because you have a chance to make every stream a-fresh and alive.
Just remember, you don’t have to restrict yourself to one platform when doing IRL streaming. Go all out to promote, stream and upload your content on different platforms like Twitch, YouTube, Instagram, etc. And use these IRL stream ideas to get started quickly.
Happy IRL streaming!