Twitch.tv, the massively popular video game streaming site, has been in the news quite a lot recently. The company has announced new subscription tiers for partnered streams, and just recently released information stating that non-partnered streams can now qualify for the use of Bits.
For anyone who might not know, Bits are a relatively new feature on Twitch. Essentially, they are a digital currency you can purchase from Amazon and use in your favorite streams. For the broadcaster, 1 Bit basically equals 1 cent USD. Obviously, since Twitch has to make money on the exchange, Bits are a little more expensive for those that buy them. It was originally only implemented on partnered streams, but Twitch has now announced that Bits will be available to those that “qualify” for the new Twitch Affiliate Program.
The qualifications for this program are under much debate in the Twitch world, some saying it’s too low while others believe it should simply be put on all channels regardless. According to a tweet from Muxy, the site that deals with Bits, approximately 62,000 streamers will qualify. You can decide for yourself by checking out the criteria, which are as follows:
- Have at least 500 minutes broadcast in the last 30 days
- Have at least 7 unique broadcasts in the past 30 days
- Have an average of at least 3 concurrent viewers over the last 30 days
- Have at least 50 followers
According to our data, at least 62,000 streamers will qualify for #Twitch affiliate status
— Muxy (@MuxyATX) April 21, 2017
In light of this news, I’ve been thinking, is partnership on Twitch even what streamers should be striving for? There are so many avenues to take as a non-partnered broadcaster in order to make money off Twitch, so what’s the point? Let’s talk about it.
First, a bit about me. I have been a part of a stream for 2 and a half years now. For 1 and a half of those years, the stream has been partnered with Twitch. Our viewership peaked at around 200 concurrents and now we’re lucky to have 30. I feel as though I have experienced all sides that may approach this argument, so hopefully I can talk about it with a pretty level head. The fact is that more viewers equals more money. There are many ways to get that money, but more viewers just equal more of it overall. Let’s first look at non-partnered streams and all the options they have to make money.
Broadcasters without partnership status can use third-party donation websites like Stream Labs to make it easy for viewers to contribute to them financially. They can also use sites like Patreon to do the same thing, but be paid monthly. Now with the Twitch Affiliate Program, qualified streamers can also utilize the Bits. And perhaps the most important way to make money as a non-partnered streamer is third-party affiliations. Companies like GreenManGaming, Steel Series, and even many games offer affiliate programs for broadcasters with an impressive-enough viewer count. Hell, even the one bonus partners get – custom emotes – can be used by non-partnered streamers with Better Twitch.tv.
Partnered broadcasters can do all of the above things as well, with the added benefit of subscriptions. And considering that Twitch takes half of a regular $4.99 USD subscription, you have to have a pretty substantial amount of subscribers to make streaming a full-time “job” without any of the other avenues. Basically what I’m saying here is that financially, being partnered helps, but not as much as you might anticipate.
Now let’s talk about how we’re treated. Partners are definitely treated differently by Twitch than non-partners. We have a direct link to a dedicated representative at Twitch and we are privy to confidential information before the general public.
At TwitchCon, Twitch’s new annual convention, game developers treat partnered broadcasters like celebrities, sitting them down to play closed-betas and giving them free codes for games. Even Twitch itself gives partners some admittedly cool free swag at the convention.
But is partnership really that important? Truthfully, I don’t think so. If we’re looking at this more cold and logically, the only thing new broadcasters should really be focused on is their view count, as that is really what opens doors for you in this industry.
However, anyone who has ever streamed knows how stressful it is to sit and watch your numbers fluctuate. Instead, if you’re a streamer just starting out, remember that you’re streaming (hopefully) because you love games and it’s fun for you. If it’s not fun anymore, then stop doing it. The point of streaming on Twitch is to connect with an audience and enjoy yourself. It isn’t about views or money and truth be told, it isn’t a good idea to use Twitch as your main or only source of income. It is a fickle business that changes constantly. Twitch will never be able to offer you benefits or healthcare, and it punishes you for taking sick days. If you stream, do it because you love it. Not because you want to be partnered.