Bob Barker-era 'Price Is Right' finds new fans: Gen Z. They're watching together on Twitch.

"There’s so much going on in the world that is awful and horrible. ... [Gen Z] is looking back to different time periods for a little bit of respite."

Bob Barker hugs a contestant on
Bob Barker hugs a contestant on The Price is Right. (Courtesy Everett Collection)

“Come on down!”

Four hours into a 26-year-old Twitch creator’s livestream, Bob Barker utters his memorable catchphrase from The Price is Right as hundreds of viewers — none of whom were alive in 1972 when the episode originally aired — sit back to watch.

Why are large numbers of people, many of whom are members of Gen Z, spending hours enjoying Bob Barker-era Price is Right episodes for the first time with strangers on the internet?

This is where the startup Gaggl comes in. By licensing the rights to older TV shows and collaborating with creators on the popular livestreaming platform Twitch, the company is tapping into exactly what Gen Z is looking for when it comes to entertainment: embracing social-first videos and offering them a finite number of things to watch. Instead, Gaggl can fill a void by telling them what they’ll be watching next, similar to a TikTok algorithm.

Gaggl sent The Price Is Right episode files to five Twitch streamers who thought the viewing-along premise would work with their already established followings. Each streamer would go live on Twitch, watching as their followers — some of whom get notified — tune in to watch them chat or play a popular video game. During those sessions, the streamer would test out the Gaggl watch-along idea, whether that meant announcing they’d be watching the show at a specific date and time or just deciding to impromptu streaming an episode between Fortnite games.

Adam Harris, one of Gaggl’s co-founders, worked at Twitch for almost eight years and saw firsthand that livestreaming was as close to a traditional TV-watching experience — appointment viewing on linear channels — as Gen Z was going to get.

“Every generation believes that the situation they’re currently in is the shittiest and the ‘previous times’ were better,” Harris told Yahoo Entertainment. “Gen Z really believes that. … There’s so much going on in the world that is awful and horrible and you’re hearing more about it because of social media. Therefore, they’re looking back to different time periods for a little bit of respite.”

Despite the newness of the concept of watching someone else stream a TV show, the elements of traditional TV viewing are there. There’s a specific channel to go to (the Twitch streamer’s page), there’s a set schedule and viewers can’t binge-watch more than one episode at a time, unless the streamer decides to. This would be similar to when networks broadcast marathons on cable TV.

“We’ve got a product that’s working well and the creators are now running it without us even on the streams,” Harris said.

Nostalgia is the main reason why Harris and the rest of the Gaggl team started streaming TV shows from the 1970s on Twitch. One of the first shows they saw connect with audiences was reruns of The Price Is Right: The Barker Era, which they licensed in a deal with production company Fremantle. (Fremantle did not respond to Yahoo Entertainment’s request for comment.)

Harris, who is British, had no idea who Bob Barker was and did not expect it to become such a success with young Twitch viewers.

For watch times, Harris explained that each episode of The Price Is Right is about 25 minutes long. Because of the streamers’ ability to pause the show for discussion, the shortest stream of an episode has been 40 minutes long; the longest has been one hour and 20 minutes. On average, individual users spend 49 minutes watching an episode of a TV show that is more than 50 years old.

“The great thing about doing interactive live TV is you can ask the audience what they want to watch,” he said. “There’s been overwhelming feedback for things from people’s childhoods.”

“This makes me miss my grammy so much,” one viewer commented on a stream of The Price Is Right. “We always watched this together.”

Upcoming test shows include 2000s-era Family Feud with Richard Karn and scripted shows like Baywatch.

The concept of interactive TV isn’t new. During the pandemic, features like Netflix Party (which has since been renamed Teleparty) allowed users to watch episodes and movies synchronized with friends and family.

“People want to spend time with each other and what we learned in COVID is it doesn’t always have to be in a physical space,” Harris said. “TV is like the last bastion — the last kind of isolated activity. People want to do stuff together and young audiences want to participate and engage.”

Teleparty has since expanded to include other streaming services and a group chat sidebar for live discussions. But for some features and premium streaming platforms like Peacock TV or ESPN+, users need to pay to stream and interact — on top of the fees they’re already paying in the first place. An October 2023 study found that pricing was a factor influencing young people to cancel streaming subscriptions.

Making a Twitch account is free and, as of right now, so is participating in the viewing parties for Gaggl shows. Plus, on Twitch, the audience is already there — Gaggl just has to supply the content. (Twitch did not respond to Yahoo Entertainment’s request for comment.)

As of now, Gaggl’s three employees are not making a profit from the project. They’re still trying to figure out how to monetize the experience without sacrificing what is making Gen Z-ers interested in the first place.

“We will [eventually] integrate commercials and advertising into it, but not in the way that has deterred Gen Z from other platforms,” Harris said, referring to pre-roll and mid-roll videos, which are video ads that play either before or during the content being watched. “It will be additive experiences, it will be interactive.”

“We’re trying to take the content to the audience,” he explained, arguing that for a generation that grew up on YouTube and on phones, they’re used to algorithms presenting them with the content they want to see, rather than seeking it out themselves. “Young people don’t want to watch [shows on TV]. They want to do it on Roblox, they want to do it on Twitch, they want a YouTube video or a TikTok. That’s where they are and that’s what they’re used to doing.”

It may seem counterintuitive to watch an episode or movie on TikTok, a platform that promotes short-form video content, but that hasn’t stopped creators from uploading full episodes and feature-length movies in two-to-three-minute segments onto the platform.

Gaggl also seems to be building an audience. The company shared data insights from its analytics partner Aggero with Yahoo Entertainment, which showed that video engagement scores — which measures the number of direct interactions with the content compared to the number of views — were 4.5 times higher on Gaggl streamers compared to the engagement the host got with regular content, such as playing Fortnite or Just Chatting.

The data goes against the perception that Gen Z-ers have short attention spans and aren’t willing to watch anything over two minutes long. Harris believes it’s about meeting them halfway.

“You can’t dismiss long-form content for Gen Z,” he said. “If you do it right, there’s a place for it.”