Is Twitch Still King of Streaming?

Is Twitch Still King of Streaming?

Social media has been abuzz lately with the latest drama surrounding Twitch, the streaming giant, that has, until recently, stood head and shoulders above all other steaming platforms.  Mixer was a testament to Twitch’s supremacy over the streaming community and went the way of the dinosaur, despite poaching some Twitch’s heaviest hitters, after almost five years.  

YouTube and Facebook are now rising from Mixer’s ashes and while neither platform is truly challenging Twitch for supremacy, they are certainly creating friction for Twitch and their partnered streamers concerning the 50/50 split between creators and the platform.  As other, better deals are offered by these rising platforms, it has Twitch streamers arguing for a bigger piece of the pie. —some suggesting they deserve a 70/30 split.

All of this friction was initially sparked by a petition on social media for Twitch to adjust their payout split between the platform and its streamers.  It argues for a more competitive deal to match what YouTube and Facebook are offering — a 70/30 split, in favor of the streamer.  Reports are that support for the petition is abundant.

But, wait!  It’s not so simple.  Not for Twitch, anyway. 

We can lay a little foundation here for the Twitch revenue blueprint and frankly, how weird and sketchy it is.  Thanks to a former Twitch employee, Sam Chen, we have some insight as to how the platform manages its revenue.  Apparently big streamers are a loss leader.  Every time a big streamer goes live, Twitch loses money.  Their paid subscriptions aren’t enough to float their channel so Twitch has to get creative and contract in mandatory ad breaks.  The platform is floated by its middle class, like a capitalistic society in miniature.  Streamers who average 500-1,000 viewers are the horde sustaining Twitch’s big streamers.  

This makes no sense to me, honestly.   As I’m reading the data here it makes me want to pull my hair out that a corporation as big as Twitch, with all the tools to succeed at hand, and no real competition for the last decade, has managed to dig such a deep hole for themselves. 

So here Twitch is literally burning money to sustain these big streamers while they desperately search for a monetization method that works.  It’s a convoluted mess in terms of finances and it looks like nobody is happy, including Big Daddy Bezos at Amazon.  

Is this a turning point in the industry?  Competitors still have a lot of work to do before they’ll get a bigger piece of the streaming pie.  Ultimately, I hope the streamers come out on top.  The creators are what will drive innovation and change. 

That’s my two cents, anyway.  What do you think?

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Evan McCleskey

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