While Twitch is currently still the largest platform, and holder of the largest portion of the livestream market, it has come under fire (again) recently. Changes to Twitch’s policy saw an uproar from creators threatening to abandon ship. The rise of streaming platform Kick is another blow to Twitch, on the surface.
What’s really going on, and more importantly what impact does a creator exodus have on brands’ Twitch marketing strategies?
Why are creators leaving Twitch?
Back in October 2022, Twitch cut its revenue share to an even 50-50 between streamer and platform. Inevitably, creators weren’t happy, which resulted in a massive outcry from creators whose earnings were damaged by the cut. Months later, Twitch reintroduced a higher revenue split, 70-30, and added several stipulations to achieve this higher percentage.
Fast forward to June 2023, Twitch had rolled out a list of changes to branded content including the removal of banners and audio ads, while on-screen logos were capped at only three-percent of the screen size. This resulted in the threat of some of the top creators leaving Twitch.
In layman’s terms, imagine a streamer has a sponsorship deal with KFC. To promote the brand, the streamer inserted a graphic that takes up a portion of the stream’s viewing space. Our steamer also decided to stop streaming momentarily to play a KFC video ad. Later, during the streaming session, our streamer also played an audio ad, crowning the virtues of a Boneless Banquet. Twitch’s new rules would have seen all three of these advertising schemes be prohibited.
Streamers of all sizes made their thoughts known, with entire networks of creators leaving Twitch, or threatening to. The changes were retracted shortly after the widespread backlash as Twitch looked to clarify the policy update’s goals. However, this only led to further discontent among platform creators.
With creators leaving Twitch, what’s the alternative?
Last year, the platform lost some of its top streamers. Among the departures were high profile gamers Sykkuno, and Ludwig, who transitioned to YouTube with exclusive deals.
Twitch streamers have often repurposed clips from their streams and uploaded the best bits to YouTube, so it makes sense that creators would switch to a platform in which all of their content resides.
Today, Twitch’s fiercest competitor is Kick, a streaming platform that functions a lot like Twitch, with a lot less restriction. The exodus of streamers from Twitch has continued with reportedly more than one million people joining Kick after the New York Times reported that the website had signed Félix ‘xQc’ Lengyel, one of the world’s most popular streamers, for a $100 million deal. However, xQc, has confirmed that he’ll still use Twitch for his streams. In addition to xQc, Twitch’s top female streamer Amouranth has also ditched Twitch, for Kick, in what is thought to be a non-exclusive deal with the site.
Unlike YouTube, Kick is not signing creators to exclusive streaming deals, meaning that the likes of xQc, and others can stream on multiple platforms, which leaves the door open for Twitch.
Should brands be worried about streamers leaving Twitch
The streaming giant has since retracted and apologized for the rollout of new ad regulations. But at this point, it’s only damage limitation. Twitch has soured its connection with a lot of its top creators.
From the company’s Twitter thread:
“Yesterday, we released new Branded Content Guidelines that impacted your ability to work with sponsors to increase your income from streaming. These guidelines are bad for you and bad for Twitch, and we are removing them immediately. Sponsorships are critical to streamers’ growth and ability to earn income. We will not prevent your ability to enter into direct relationships with sponsors – you will continue to own and control your sponsorship business. We want to work with our community to create the best experience on Twitch, and to do that we need to be clear about what we’re doing and why we’re doing it. We appreciate your feedback and help in making this change.”
The implications these guidelines would have had on creators, charities, esports broadcasters and brands, left Twitch with no choice but to retract its decision.
Brands should take note of these changes when choosing where and how to invest marketing spend. For some, Twitch might not be worth the investment anymore, especially for brands working with long-term streaming creators.
In the short-term, Twitch might have retracted its controversial plans, but not all the damage can be wiped. Twitch has tarnished its relationship with many of its former partners, and cast a doubt over whether the platform is a viable investment for advertisers.
How Twitch can move forward
For now, Twitch has a lot of work to do to repair the damage of its latest creator crisis. YouTube, and Kick are breathing down its neck in the race for livestream market share.
Two of Twitch’s most popular streamers, ishowspeed, and Kai Cenat have announced their departure from the platform, opting to join Rumble instead. How many more can Twitch afford to lose?
It’s safe to say that Twitch needs to rebuild its bridges with creators and advertisers, which to many seems like an open and shut case. Improve creator monetization offerings, instead of diminishing them.
Twitch is looking to put this saga to bed, and with the recent success of La Velada 3, a live influencer boxing event hosted by Ibai Llanos, it’s clear that the platform is still viable for marketers and brands. The live event managed to break the record of concurrent viewers on a single stream, and sponsorship from the likes of Spotify, Revolut and Coca-Cola.
Although the platform has come under fire recently, Twitch still remains one of the most valuable assets for brands looking to tap into the influencer and live streaming markets. If Twitch can continue to bolster creator monetization opportunities, and cultivate its partnerships, it will continue as the best platform for brands looking to tap into the livestream market.
That’s all for this one, but don’t miss out on the latest trends and developments on Twitch, covered over on our blog!