With its new Cheering tool, Twitch wants to provide viewers with a more fun and interactive way to support their favorite streamers. Currently in beta, Cheering allows you to buy special currency called "Bits" and spend them on animated emoticons that you can drop right into the chat room to show some monetized love — even while you're trolling and sharing memes.
If you're ready to get your cheer on, you click the Bits icon in your chat window to buy the currency. You can get 100 bits for $1.40, though you'll get a better value if you buy one of the bigger bundles available. From there, all you need to do is head to the chat room and type in "cheer" followed by the amount you want to donate (ex: cheer1, cheer100). You'll see a shiny emoticon show up based on your donation, after which you can pat yourself on the back for supporting your streamer of choice.
Naturally, there's a bit of show-offiness to the whole Cheering system. Donating more leads to cooler, more animated emotes — for example, dropping one bit produces a plain gray triangle, while spending 10,000 creates a wildly animated red star. You'll also earn special badges next to your username based on how many bits you've spent, so other users will know whether you've dropped 100 or 100,000 on your favorite channel.
With Cheering, Twitch has created its own sub-economy that gives fans more ways to throw a broadcaster a few bucks during an especially exciting or hilarious moment. You can already subscribe to partnered channels, but that requires a $5-per-month commitment. Many channels have a donate button, but that often requires viewers to visit an external site such as PayPal.
Thanks to Cheering, you can spend a few bucks right on Twitch's website, and dole out your on-site currency as you see fit. Perhaps more importantly, Cheering taps into the bizarre phenomenon that is Twitch Chat. Users love spamming the site's wealth of silly emoticons that reference inside jokes within the streaming community, and now they can do so while supporting broadcasters at the same time. Cheering will also support third-party apps, so streamers can, for example, opt to have a message show up on their stream every time they receive a big cheer.
You can currently test out Cheering on a bunch of partnered channels, including Lirik, Summit1G, JoshOG, ManvsGame and OMGitsfirefoxx. Twitch eventually wants to bring the feature to all partnered streamers, but in the meantime, you can check out the full list of beta channels on the company's blog.