Twitch.tv is a platform used for live video streaming focusing mainly on video games. Twitch.tv is owned by Amazon. 'Streamers', the user's creating and performing the live video content, broadcast everything from video game play-throughs to talk shows to live tournament events. Since it was founded in 2011, Twitch has seen steady increases in numbers of new visitors and streamers, and in 2015, Twitch announced it was hosting over 1.5 million broadcasters and 100 million visitors each month. As the platform has grown, so has the viability of making a career out of streaming. Many gamers have recently turned their passion into a living, and in some cases, much more. This is largely because of the introduction of Twitch Prime, which allows Amazon Prime users to subscribe to one streamer per month for free. Although everything on Twitch is live, some streamers have shown or encouraged illegal activity. Also, there are rules against harassment of other individuals on Twitch, "Harassment, defamation, intimidation, raiding with malicious intent, or stalking of other persons or users, including Twitch Staff, Admins, or Global Moderators, is strictly prohibited" . Even though there are moderators within Twitch many unethical things still go unnoticed.
- 1 History
- 2 Users, Audience, & Content
- 3 The Mechanics of Twitch
- 4 Popular Games
- 5 Twitch Payment Structure
- 6 Career Streamers and the Introduction of Twitch Prime
- 7 Ethical Implications
- 8 References
- 9 External links
Twitch.tv was founded in 2011; however, its roots go back to Justin.tv, formed in 2007 by Justin Kan and Emmett Shear. Originally, their concept of the website centered around Justin Kan wearing a hat with a video camera and microphone attached and going about broadcasting his everyday activities or as the termed was coined, a "Lifecast". Later, they divided the site into different categories with gaming becoming the most popular by far. With the unprecedented success of the gaming section on Justin.tv, the company decided to devote an entirely new website to this category naming it Twitch.tv, after the term "twitch gameplay", which refers a gamer's ultra quick reaction times to certain in-game scenarios. Ever since Twitch.tv has completely dominated the video game streaming and live video entertainment market.
Users, Audience, & Content
The average users on Twitch are predominately male and in between the ages of 18 and 34, and focus most of their attention to the video game viewing aspect of the site. However, the number of females starting to stream as greatly risen. While some female streamers notoriously tend to play on their sexuality and attractiveness to gain large viewer numbers, most female streamers are very serious gamers and evidence that females are very close to making a big splash into the esports arena.
For the most part, content on Twitch consists mostly of video game play throughs and live video game tournaments; however, recently there has been an increase in the amount of creative content. For example, pianoimproman is a Twitch streamer that plays piano songs that viewers request as well as some of his originals. He averages almost 17k views each time he goes live and is evidence of the surge of creative content on Twitch. Another area Twitch has started to break into is the live music streaming market. In 2015, Twitch created a new category for music. Within this category, viewers can find radio talk shows, coverage of live music festivals, as well as other musical productions broadcasts. There are also categories such as social eating, and IRL.
The Mechanics of Twitch
Twitch's homepage displays various games and streamers ranked by viewership. The homepage also now features a streamer chosen by Twitch for the day. Viewers can easily browse or search specifically for a streamer by game or by name.
The mechanics of Twitch from a viewers standpoint are plentiful and is partly why streaming has been such a successful venture. First, viewers can chat live with the streamers they are watching and many times good streamers will interact personally with their audience rather than just go ahead play the game and ignore them. Second, viewers can donate money directly to the streamers. Within this donation, they can write a message that will appear live on screen for the whole chat and streamer to see. Along with donating, viewers can subscribe to the streamer's channel. Depending on how the streamer has organized his channel, subscribing can mean special benefits such as chat special chat emojis created by the streamer, subscriber chat only mode, and full video-on-demand access to past streams.
There are many games that are popularly streamed on Twitch.tv, and the most popular often changes by day based on special events or specific streamers broadcasting that day. While the rankings change day to day, the games consistently at the highest viewership are Fortnite Battle Royale, League of Legends, Grand Theft Auto V, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds, and Overwatch. Additionally, a 'game' called 'just chatting' is often is at the top of viewership. This is when the streamer isn't broadcasting gameplay, but simply talking to their viewers. The consistent popularity of this category shows how important the relationship between content creator and viewer is on Twitch.tv. The variety of popular games also displays the variation in content, as some are extremely competitive such as League of Legends, while others are completely based on fun and creativity like Grand Theft Auto V.
The effect on top games from certain streamers choosing which game to play was highlighted recently on April 1, 2019. Tyler 'Ninja' Blevins, Tim 'TimTheTatMan' Betar, Marcel 'BasicallyIDoWrk' Cunningham, and Jack 'CourageJD' Dunlop, all popular Fortnite content creators, ditched the game for a night to play Uno. That night, Uno became the most popular game on Twitch and quickly dropped in rankings when this group stopped playing .
Twitch Payment Structure
Streamers are eligible to earn increased benefits and income sources as they grow through Twitch's Affiliate and Partner Programs. Before qualifying for these programs, any user can stream on the platform without generating revenue. The addition of streaming capability directly from the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One has allowed many streamers to jump-start their career with little capital investment. However, until streamers enter these programs, third party donations and sponsorships are the only potential income sources, but are unlikely to be earned by a small-time creator. As streamers grow their audience, they become eligible to apply for the Affiliate and Partner programs. As of 2018, Twitch reported that there were around 150,000 affiliates and 27,000 partners . These numbers have likely increased since their announcement, as there were 17,000 partners in 2017.
Twitch Affiliate Program
The Affiliate program has simple and concrete requirements for eligibility over a 30 day period .
- Reach 50 followers
- Average 3 viewers on streams
- Stream on 7 unique days
- Stream a total of 8 hours
Once these conditions are met, streamers can apply for affiliate status.
Becoming an affiliate opens doors to both revenue sources from Twitch and increased channel customization.
The most important benefit is the ability to receive previously mentioned subscriptions. As an Affiliate, a content creator is eligible to receive subscriptions of $4.99, $14.99, and $24.99 per month. Creators receive half of the money generated from their subscriptions, with the other half going to Twitch . Additionally, Affiliates can be gifted bits, with 1 bit equaling $0.01. Bits can be earned by viewers by watching advertisements, who can then gift them to streamers. A final revenue source for affiliates is the ability to earn money through game sales that are generated through links on their channel.
Affiliates are granted access to up to 5 customizable emotes that can be used by their subscribers in any chatroom. They can also re-air past broadcasts and host events for pre-made video debuts.
Twitch Partner Program
The Partner Program requirements are much more subjective and reaching the concrete benchmarks don't always correlate to acceptance into the program . Partners receive all benefits that Affiliates do, with additional special treatment. The base cutoffs to apply to the program are also based on achievements over a 30 day period.
- Average 75 viewers
- Stream 25 total hours
- Stream 12 unique days
The Partner program focuses less on additional monetary incentives and more on channel customization.
The only additional source of income that Partners have over Affiliates is directly earning money from ads played on their stream.
Where partners benefit the most is in their channel customization. They are eligible for the following:
- Custom subscription badges that allow subscribers to show how long they have been subscribed to the channel for.
- 50 custom subscriber emotes that can be used by viewers across the platform
- Custom badges for people that change based on how many bits they've given to a streamer
- Saves Videos On Demand for 60 days, where all other users' videos are saved for 14 days
- A verified user badge that appears next to their name
- Free lifetime subscription for their chatbot, which uses commands to help answer FAQs
- Up to 3 free lifetime subscriptions to their channel for family and friends
- Priority support from twitch staff
- Can create their own stream team
- Can use a broadcast delay
- Get the top priority for video quality over affiliates
- Get top priority for support from Twitch
Career Streamers and the Introduction of Twitch Prime
While it is very unlikely that someone can become wealthy off streaming 24/7, making a career out of live streaming has become more possible in recent years. The best way to do so is to become a Partner with a large following that consistently subscribes and donates funds, along with joining a team that has sponsorships. Making a living off of streaming is now more feasible than ever due to the 2018 introduction of Twitch Prime. Twitch partnered up with Amazon to allow any Amazon Prime member to get one free subscription to any channel each month. This has led to an influx of devoted viewers on the platform and has been attributed to the monetary success of the most popular streamers.
Tyler Blevins (Ninja)
Popular streamer Richard Tyler Blevins (Ninja) has shown how lucrative a streaming career can be. Known for his ludicrous skill and creativity in Battle Royale style games, Ninja slowly gained a following over years of effort on his stream. In March of 2018, Ninja exploded, breaking Twitch's concurrent viewer record at over 628,000 playing the game Fortnite with rappers Drake and Travis Scott and athlete JuJu Smith-Schuster. He also holds the record for most subscriptions in one month of over 250,000 subscribers, a large portion of which were Twitch Prime subscriptions . Ninja reported that he makes over $500,000 a month . This number has likely decreased as his subscriber numbers have decreased greatly since he was making this absurd income. Nonetheless, he maintains a strong following.
Guy Beahm (Dr DisRespect)
Guy Beahm (known as Dr DisRespect) is a streamer and personality on Twitch.tv. He has gained over 2 million followers on his channel. During his stream Guy Beahm takes on an alter ego, wearing a wig and sunglasses. He advertises his subscriber group as "The Champions Club". Beahm serves as an example of professional growth through streaming, as he previously used his success to earn the position of Community Manager for the Call of Duty franchise. Beahm's streaming career was interrupted when he stepped away from the platform after being unfaithful to his wife. He took a 2 month hiatus to rebuild his family and sort himself out as a person, determined to return a better man . Upon his return, he was greatly celebrated and broke the standing viewership record with 388,000 viewers.. He has maintained a devoted fan base and continues to stand among the most subscribed-to streamers.
In every single stream, there is a comments section for users. Most streams allow users to consistently talk and say whatever they want, but there are some banned words that you can customize yourself. According to Twitch.tv, this capability would protect their personal information, protect against spambots, and Reduce toxicity in chat in conjunction with other common settings, chat bots and chat rules. In addition, popular streamers will often have moderators who will be in the chat and they have the ability give users timeouts, ban, unban, slow, slowoff, subscribers, subscribersoff, clear, R9KBeta, and R9KBetaOff. Even though there are moderators with this much power in the chat some people can still get away with saying targeted insults to other users.
Due to the fact that Twitch subscribers have the benefit of using stickers and customized icons, there is discrimination within the Twitch platform against those that are unable to afford the subscription. In fact, streamers have the ability to change the chat box setting in such a way that only allows their subscribers to type in chat. This creates a situation that is unfair towards non-subscribers and is an ethic concern yet to be resolved. Twitch Prime does little to combat this because an Amazon Prime membership is required, which is more expensive than a typical Twitch subscription.
- Community Guidelines. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.twitch.tv/p/legal/community-guidelines/
- Raza, S. (2019, April 01). UNO takes over Fortnite on Twitch – esportsjunkie. Retrieved from https://esportsjunkie.com/2019/04/01/uno-takes-over-fortnite-on-twitch/
- Perez, S., & Perez, S. (2018, February 06). Twitch now has 27K Partners and 150K Affiliates making money from their videos. Retrieved from https://techcrunch.com/2018/02/06/twitch-now-has-27k-partners-and-150k-affiliates-making-money-from-their-videos/
- Joining the Affiliate Program. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://help.twitch.tv/s/article/joining-the-affiliate-program?language=en_US
- How much does a streamer make per sub? (2018, July 28). Retrieved from https://www.quora.com/How-much-does-a-streamer-make-per-sub
- Twitch Partner Program. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.twitch.tv/p/partners
- Twitch Prime Guide. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://help.twitch.tv/s/article/twitch-prime-guide?language=en_US
- Tassi, P. (2018, March 15). Twitch Comments On The Record-Breaking Drake-Ninja 'Fortnite' Stream. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/insertcoin/2018/03/15/twitch-comments-on-the-record-breaking-drake-ninja-fortnite-stream/#1414db8746c6
- Tassi, P. (2018, April 07). Ninja's New 'Fortnite' Twitch Records: 5 Million Followers, 250,000 Subs, $875,000 A Month. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/insertcoin/2018/04/07/ninjas-new-fortnite-twitch-records-5-million-followers-250000-subs-875000-a-month/#6308cdff478f
- Chalk, A. (2018, March 19). Fortnite streamer Ninja makes $500,000 per month. Retrieved from https://www.pcgamer.com/fortnite-streamer-ninja-makes-dollar500000-per-month-yes-per-month/
- Alexander, J. (2018, January 20). Popular streamer Dr Disrespect will return to Twitch in early February. Retrieved from https://www.polygon.com/2018/1/20/16912890/dr-disrespect-twitch-return-febuary
- Alexander, J. (2018, February 05). Dr. DisRespect tops 380K viewers in Twitch return, addresses scandal (update). Retrieved from https://www.polygon.com/2018/2/5/16975284/dr-disrespect-twitch-return-view-count-donations-subscribers
- Channel Blocked and Permitted Terms, Powered by AutoMod. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://help.twitch.tv/s/article/channel-blocked-and-permitted-terms-powered-by-automod?language=en_US
- Chat Commands. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://help.twitch.tv/s/article/chat-commands?language=en_US