Dear Content Creators,
Your platform choices determine your fate.
The specific choice I would like to talk about today is instant gratification over personal growth for a streamer. Becoming a full-time content creator is ‘the dream.’ The temptations are real, and there are a lot of them. Where you stream determines when and how much you earn, and there are deals out there that sound enticing when you are a small creator. Navigating these choices can make a significant, long-term difference in your career, and while I am not going to tell you what to do, I can help you navigate these choices a bit.
Let’s put our focus on where to stream. It’s the biggest and most consequential choice you can make as a content creator. In the past, you had three major options in the streaming space; Twitch, YouTube and Facebook. Now you have a fourth option, Kick, and given the current state of streaming, a lot of people are looking in their direction. Kick has entered the scene and is making a lot of noise.
Let’s talk about Twitch, to begin with. It’s still the biggest streaming platform and offers a lot of perks to the streamer and content creator. I’ve written about the payouts and the perks in the past, but the fact that the threshold to monetize is so much easier than other platforms makes it tough to turn down.
What they fail to realize, though, is that more than 99.99% of all Twitch Streamers don’t even make the equivalent of the U.S. minimum wage. 76% of Twitch Affiliates surveyed said that they haven’t even earned the minimum requirement of $100 USD to get their first payout. The lack of growth opportunity on Twitch isn’t going to give you what you think you are going to get.
“The lack of growth opportunity on Twitch isn’t going to give you what you think you are going to get.”
Youtube is unarguably a tougher platform to monetize on, but they have gotten easier. The old method required 1000 subscribers and 4000 watch hours in a 12-month period. With the growth of their Shorts platform, they have added an alternative. The 1000 subscribers is unchanged, but you can now achieve partner status with 4000 watch hours or 10 million Shorts views. That sounds like a lot, but a couple of viral shorts can do the trick.
Add to that the ability to make your own videos outside of streaming, you have the ability to earn money passively as a content creator. On Twitch, if you aren’t live you aren’t earning. Not so with YouTube. They have Super Chats, Super Thanks and Tiered Memberships to earn money, but when Twitch started to show signs of weakness, YouTube failed to pounce and bring the audience-forward features that people had hoped to see.
Facebook is a gigantic platform, but it is clear that the company doesn’t care about the streaming or content creator arm of their venture. They give their streamers 100% of their sub revenue, a commitment that is set until the end of this year (no word if it will continue). They can do this because they don’t seem to put a lot of stock in their streaming. Facebook’s money comes from people being on the Social Media site, not where on the site they are.
So with a hobbled Twitch, a YouTube that failed to innovate when it mattered the most and an indifferent Facebook, Kick entered the scene making a lot of promises. They promise a 95/5 split on subscriber revenue, 100% of your “kicks” belong to the streamer, and there is revenue to be made based on your viewership. It sounds too good to be true, and if you are a history buff, you’ll understand why.
Remember Mixer? They hit the ground running with big promises and signing some of the biggest names in the space, including Ninja and Shroud, but the spending was not sustainable, and Mixer is nowhere to be found today. Kick, started by Easygo and Stake.com and backed by streamers Trainwreck and the recently Twitch-banned Adin Ross, has made a big impact on social media. The conversations surrounding the platform on places like Twitter have been, like everything on social media lately, controversial and divisive. Kick will either be the saviour of streaming or its demise, depending on who you listen to.
“Wherever you go, the mindset should be about building. Building a community, building your brand, building trust.”
What I witnessed when I toured around Kick tells me what the platform really is at the moment, and that is the wild west. It should be no surprise that a site run by a crypto-gambling site and whose biggest cheerleaders are a streamer whose biggest problem with Twitch is its regulation of gambling and another whose ban for hateful content (both of whom probably get a pretty penny for their participation) might be problematic. One trip through their site (which is a direct clone of Twitch, by the way), and you’ll find streams with nudity, gambling and the illegal rebroadcast of WWE wrestling, movies and TV shows like The Office, Seinfeld and a bevy of Anime series.
Let me be clear. I am no prude. A hot tub stream isn’t going to make me blush, even if they go a bit further than Twitch would allow them. But the illegal and other questionable goings on (including people trying to get girls who are unaware that they are on a stream to flash them via a random chat app) affect you as a streamer or content creator, even if you never set foot in their channels. Their practices will reflect everything that can affect you, including the viewers who go to the site, the advertisers willing to touch the site with a ten-foot pole and, more importantly, the advertisers who won’t.
All of these affect the company’s ability to actually make money moving forward and the longer they take to make it a more generally inviting place, the harder it will be for them to ever make a dollar. The first thing that will go are the generous splits that people jumped ship for. After that, it becomes a waiting game to see how long it takes Kick to bleed out. We are literally watching this happen with Twitch right now, and they have Amazon behind them.
“Kick will either be the saviour of streaming or its demise, depending on who you listen to.”
Kick was created as a reaction to what was going on in streaming. Some of it is directly related to the streamers’ anger at Twitch, but a lot more of it is a reaction to the gambling industry’s anger at Twitch cutting them out, and when a business is created not out of the needs of their patrons, but the needs of the company itself, that’s bad business for everybody.
Whatever choice you make as a new content creator, I hope that it is in service of your long-term career and not to make your first dollar faster, because these decisions are lasting and, if you make the wrong one which ends with the company closing up shop and you having to move to a new platform, you’ll be starting fresh. Unless you are one of the top handful of streamers in the industry, the bulk of your followers will not come along for the ride. Wherever you go, the mindset should be about building—building a community, building your brand, building trust. If you want to grow, you have to put down some roots.