EghtesadOnline: Amazon.com Inc.’s video streaming site Twitch Interactive is making it easier for aspiring stars to make money, seeking to woo participants soon after Google’s YouTube made it harder for users to generate revenue in the wake of an advertising boycott.
Twitch, a website where users can watch live streams of video games and other activities, currently has 17,000 “partners,” who generally appear a few times a week, attract hundreds of viewers for each broadcast and get a share of subscription and ad revenue. The company on Friday announced a new “affiliate” program, sort of a minor league for streamers who don’t have large followings but show promise.
The site is dominated by video game players, but includes aspiring chefs, artists and musicians who broadcast their talents. While Twitch doesn’t disclose how much streamers earn, many get paid thousands of dollars a month. Kristen Valnicek, who streams in provocative costumes under the name “KittyPlays,” received $7,000 from a single viewer, Bloomberg reported.
Twitch hopes to attract tens of thousands of streamers into the affiliate program, which will serve as a pipeline to reach partner status, said Ethan Evans, the site’s senior vice president of commerce and developer success. Some streamers need an incentive to buy equipment and invest the time necessary to develop a loyal following, he said.
Viewers will pay the affiliate streamers with a system that rewards performance, which is Twitch’s equivalent of a guitarist performing on a busy street corner for donations. Additional tools letting affiliates make money, such as selling subscriptions, will be added in the future, the company said.
“Because it’s live content, the challenge is your audience needs to know when to find you,” Evans said. “It’s a big commitment to broadcast several days a week.”
Twitch’s move to lower the bar for earning comes after Alphabet Inc.’s YouTube revised its policies so channels can only make money if they attract more than 10,000 views. YouTube’s change, which followed a backlash about ads appearing next to racist videos and other hateful content, made it less likely that advertising would appear next to obscure, unvetted videos.
Twitch can more safely provide money-making opportunities given its dominant focus around video games, while YouTube is a more general site that has to be mindful of content that might not be appropriate for mainstream brands, said Paul Verna, an analyst at EMarketer Inc.
“There’s a real tension between appealing to the masses as a place where players at any level can participate and being a place where you have to take care of brand safety and be more of a premium content service,” Verna said. “Even though these low-level creators aren’t generating the bulk of the revenue, they are the foundation. You have to build these platforms from the bottom up and the best way to encourage creation is to let more people participate.”
Twitch is often called the ESPN of video games because it streams competitions featuring professional gamers, letting viewers chat alongside the action, react and pose questions. It also lets people broadcast themselves playing games, some of whom attract devoted followings because they are skilled gamers or have colorful personalities like television hosts.
Twitch is free to watch and attracts 10 million viewers each day. It sells advertising and subscriptions. Subscribers pay $5 a month per channel to interact with their favorite streamers in chat rooms and access emoticons that are popular tools for communicating on the fast-moving site.
Amazon purchased Twitch for about $1 billion in 2014 as part of its online content push that also includes movies and music.