That a 26-year-old streamer could attract names of that size sparked criticism from more traditional news media.
“Who is Ibai? I called Aguero for an interview, but Ibai beats me, and if Ibai beats me I have to stop,” said Argentine announcer Gustavo López. “They talk to the powerful and ignore those of us who are paid in pesos.” Others mock Llanos as an “entertainer” rather than a journalist.
For Llanos, though, that’s kind of the point. “Maybe I’m the kind of person they like,” he said of players. “A little different.” He doesn’t try to pry into their personal lives. He tries not to ask them challenging questions about what is often just their job for them. Instead, he tries to talk to them as casually as possible, while doing something – playing video games – that they enjoy.
“They come because they like it,” he said. “They are not paid. They come because they want to come.”
The motivation of the players is perhaps a little more calculated than that. “Twitch is the Generation Z platform,” said Julian Aquilina, a broadcast specialist at the media research firm Enders Analysis. “It’s very young and quite masculine. It’s a very different audience than traditional broadcasters.” Llanos offers a precious route to that audience: his interview with Dybala, for example, attracted more than 100,000 live, mostly teenage viewers.
There’s no question, however, that the biggest football stars find it a more attractive prospect than a more formal interview. “Twitch has a much more community feel to it,” Aquilina said. “It’s much more interactive.” For at least one of Llanos’ guests, the draw was that talking to Llanos didn’t feel like an interview at all. There was no camera, no sound equipment, no call-and-answer of questions, no defined structure. The players feel safe talking to someone who seems like a friend.