The latest news from Twitch is benefiting them, not you.
Twitch delivered some news last week in the face of major creators leaving their platform, blowback from minimum commercial lengths, recent leaks of creator earnings, a poor response to DMCA takedowns and a lot more. The news? Exclusivity for Twitch Partners and Affiliates is over! You can stream on multiple platforms! Let’s hold on just a minute.
If you didn’t read past the first couple of paragraphs of the articles announcing this, you may have missed something. I’ve been doing some research and listening to people with a bit more knowledge about these types of contracts and this wasn’t the world-changing announcement that they make it out to be.
First of all, the exclusivity announcement is more than a little misleading. You have always been allowed to stream on Twitch and then, the second you end your stream, you could start a stream on YouTube. That was always a part of the Twitch Terms of Service for Partners and Affiliates. So nothing has changed here.
Next, you are allowed to multi-stream. This is new, but not what you think. You are not allowed to multi-stream (or simulcast, if you prefer) to competing platforms, such as YouTube or Facebook. Twitch has this to say about it:
“We do not allow simulcasting on web-based, Twitch-like services that support streaming for extended periods of time, such as YouTube and Facebook, because we believe engaging with two streams at once can lead to a suboptimal experience for your community.”
What they do allow, however, is multi-streaming from content creators on short-form platforms, such as TikTok and Instagram Live. So why do they allow these and not the long-form platforms like YouTube? The simple answer is that building your brand on something like YouTube creates a legitimate threat to Twitch. Instagram Live and TikTok are not perceived as a threat, so by letting you multi-stream on the short-form platforms, they at least get to tell you that multi-streaming is allowed.
But let’s go back to that one line:
“We believe engaging with two streams at once can lead to a suboptimal experience for your community.”
I don’t know that I have ever heard a company use the excuse of “we know what’s best for you” as a way to hide their true motives; they don’t want you to build a community elsewhere. It’s not their business to tell content creators whether they should multi-stream or not, nor do they care about how a creator’s community might react to it.
If you stream on something similar to Twitch, the viewers from that other platform could have been viewers on Twitch if you just brought them over. Without that motivation, they are not gaining viewers nor are they ensuring that your communities on the other platforms eclipse the one on Twitch.
I have my own thoughts about multi-streaming. I don’t do it. I want to try to have all of my viewers in one place. I basically fall in line with what Twitch says above. What makes me upset about their above comments is that they have removed the choice.
So what do they get out of this? Affiliates and Partners may be more hesitant to leave. If you give people the impression that they have the freedom to dip their toes elsewhere, they will feel okay maintaining their status on Twitch and still stream there (at least a little) to maintain some subs. If those subscriptions are maintained, Twitch makes money. It’s the broadcasting version of the unused gym membership. If the choice for them is to either lose you altogether or get a little something, they’ll go for the latter.
Large streamers have been leaving Twitch for years, and it has been a big hit to the company. Dr Disrespect in left in 2020, DrLupo and TimTheTatman in 2021, Sykkuno, Myth and Lily Pichu in 2022. The money they made from the subscribers of those channels was huge, but Twitch has its share of financial problems, and they have been either unwilling or unable to match YouTube’s offers to people like Ludwig, TimtheTatman, Valkyrae and Dr. Disrespect.
The number of creators jumping ship isn’t going to slow down because they see the improvements that YouTube has made to its streaming platform and its indication that they are in it to win it. They may also have a different view of the future of live-streaming than Twitch. There are obvious advantages to consolidating your brand on a platform that isn’t going anywhere. YouTube is gigantic. It’s one of the pillars of Google’s empire. Twitch feels like it is more like Amazon’s disappointing step-child.
So what does this mean for you? Should it stop you from moving platforms if you were already thinking about it? No. If you want to build your brand elsewhere, do it. Their allowances for multi-streaming won’t give you the opportunity to do it from Twitch.
Should this chase you away from Twitch? Not yet. You aren’t losing anything in this deal at the moment. Could there be changes coming down the road when the bleeding that was slowed by these changes starts back up again? Probably. The decision regarding if/when you make a move like that is very personal. You may love the community you have, or you may fear that it won’t follow you across platforms, and you’ll fail to regrow.
But whatever decision you make as a content creator, pay special attention to the decisions they make and what they mean to you.