Twitch streamers have been complaining about the lack of an automated third-party revenue system since streaming was added to the Twitch platform in 2014. On January 10th, streamers organized a protest against Adult Swim, the San Francisco studio that runs the service, demanding that it offer a standardized payment system to all streamers and not favor their own in-house streamers. The protest, which generated a lot of discussion on social media, was a start, but streamers want more direct control of revenue generation, including a cut of ad revenue, the ability to customize their own channel pages, and more.
The world of competitive gaming is much different than the rest of the world, and the barrier for entry for aspiring streamers is a lot higher. Even if you’re a whiz with a keyboard, the odds of cracking into the competitive scene are low. Streamers need a lot of gear, time, and a lot of luck to succeed, and that’s not even taking into consideration social media and online harassment. A streamer is a person who broadcasts content on a live video stream for the public to watch, and several of them have taken to the internet to voice their concerns about the industry.
A couple of months ago, the world’s largest online video game tournament, the Overwatch League, launched with $40 million in prize money, broadcast deals with Disney and Turner, and a $20 million salary cap. It’s a billion dollar industry, and there’s also no shortage of aspirational players in the scene.
Twitch broadcasters are using a hashtag to raise awareness to a number of issues they’re having with the streaming site. The #TwitchDoBetter hashtag is being used to demand that Twitch adjust its revenue sharing scheme and (more importantly) provide better moderation to prevent marginalized and minority broadcasters from being targets of abuse and harrasment. The #TwitchDoBetter hashtag is a reference to a 2018 tweet from Twitch asking users to “watch [the company] closely and hold [it] accountable” as it planned to implement new enforcement policies.
Despite Twitch’s 2018 community rules change, which was meant to ban sexual material as well as harassment and abusive behavior, broadcasters of color and LGBT+ streamers are still the focus of organized “hate raids,” follow botting, and harassment campaigns. Furthermore, the platform’s existing moderation mechanisms do not prevent such behavior since offenders may simply create a new Twitch account.
The hashtag is also drawing attention to the existing 50/50 income split between broadcasters and Twitch, with many advocating for a 70/30 or even an 80/20 split (70 percent to casters and 30 percent to Twitch). Twitch was acquired by Amazon in 2014 for just under $1 billion, and the business is already profitable, having made over $100 billion in the second quarter – the third quarter in a row that it has done so.
Of course, Twitch (and, by implication, Amazon) taking half of broadcasters’ profits goes hand in hand with the company not utilizing any of that money to develop new anti-hate measures. According to broadcaster Jess Go, “many disadvantaged artists find it preferable to turn off the presently accessible Twitch tools and simply have their own community regulate their spaces.” “Why is Twitch taking such a big part of the earnings we produce if we are performing all this extra work?”
A notable article in the New York Times called “Why Twitch has a harassment problem” has brought up a very important conversation about the way Twitch handles harassment in and out of game. The article discusses the fact that many streamers are not compensated for the content they create, while those who do get paid double what they would earn on other channels. It also discusses the fact that many streamers are harassed in chat by a minority of their viewers, which is a bigger problem than the article discusses. The article is a good starting point for this conversation, but it is a flaw in the opinion section.. Read more about how to deal with harassment on twitch and let us know what you think.
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