TThe witch is going through a hard time. Live broadcast site owned by Amazon Since 2014, it has become synonymous with many video games. TechScape’s audience is wide, so forgive me: some of you will ask why I should explain that Twitch is the place where viewers watch small celebrities play video games, interact with these influencers, and experience the kind of strong social relationships that other communities have with podcasters, YouTubers, or authors. Newsletters. (I love you too). Others will wonder why anyone would want to watch someone play video games.
Whether you get it or not, there is no doubt that Twitch Streamers are real celebrities. We’ve been away a few years now from the 31-year-old Richard Blevins – better known as Ninja – who made headlines in 2018. To play Fortnite against Drake And earn a million dollar salary easily in the process.
Since then, Ninja’s Trail has revealed just how challenging it was to lead Twitch into the space. In 2019, he was awarded an exclusive contract from Mixer, the homegrown company of Microsoft Twitch competitor for an undisclosed amount. It wasn’t just about the money, Blevins said: The “toxic” community that grew up on Twitch played its part. But by 2020, Mixer is closed, and Ninja is released from his contract. Now, he splits his time across multiple platforms, and he still streams to Twitch but also streams on YouTube, TikTok, Instagram and Facebook.
Ninja isn’t alone in looking beyond the market leader for a platform. And Twitch isn’t helping things. The company understands the importance of its stars, and in a move quietly popular throughout the social media world, it has begun offering its biggest sweetheart deals to celebrities, splitting the profits of a Twitch subscription — a monthly fee that viewers pay to support it. Single host – 70/30 in favor of the operator for the biggest and the best. For smaller streaming devices, the deal is split 50/50, but with a supportive audience and a societal culture that encourages disconnecting from cash, rather than relying solely on advertising, even that can save a handy amount of money.
But in September, Twitch ended its 70/30 revenue split, lowering its payments to its biggest stars. “We don’t think it is appropriate for those with standard contracts to have a diversified revenue share based on the size of the broadcast device,” Twitch said in a blog. “In an ideal world, all streaming devices would be on the same set of terms regardless of size.” No cherished deals seem fair enough – but why not standardize the 70/30, and raise the bar for young creators?
“We have to talk about the cost of our service,” explained Dan Clancy, president of Twitch. Delivering high-definition, low-latency live video that is always available in almost every corner of the world is expensive. Using published prices from Amazon Web Services’ Interactive Video Service (IVS) – which is essentially Twitch video – live video costs $100 [viewer] Broadcasting that broadcasts 200 hours per month is priced at over $1,000 per month.”
When it flows it pours
Telling streaming users whose income was reduced that it was necessary because Amazon’s Twitch company couldn’t bill Amazon Web Services without doing so, it went down poorly. But the company had a chance to make adjustments in October at TwitchCon, its annual gathering.
Instead, things got worse. Attendees said, from the start, that the conference felt clinical and functional, and an opportunity to celebrate the company rather than a moment for the company to honor the live broadcasters who made it what it is.
Then there was the foam pit. A booth created by PC maker Lenovo featured gladiator-style fights between top banners over a stack of foam blocks. But unlike the TV show, the blocks were reportedly fair A thin film is scattered over the concrete floor of the conference center. Injuries were reported to some people who jumped from the sidewalk, the most serious of which was Adriana Chechik, Who says she broke her back in two places. The entire time, Twitch has remained silent about incidents. (A Lenovo representative told Polygon at the time: “Safety remains our top priority as we work with event organizers to look into incidents.”)
The insults create the impression that Twitch doesn’t care about people who devote themselves to creating content for its platform. And this is a growing problem, because the word “consecration” is an exact word. To join the Twitch Affiliate Program, and access the monetization features, you must stream for a minimum of eight hours in a 30-day period, spread out over at least seven days (and for an average of three viewers over the course of that entire period). It’s a rather stressful work schedule, which is, by definition, unpaid, and pulling it off yet doesn’t guarantee that Twitch will actually accept you.
Once you get paid by Twitch, the work doesn’t get any less intense. As Keisa MacDonald of the Guardian wrote last year:
Speaking to the people around that table, I was amazed – and frankly, worried – how hard they worked. The woman sitting next to me told me she streams for eight to 10 hours every day, and when she’s not live, she’s tending her social media, responding to fans, and exploring partnerships with brands or collaborations with other broadcasters; Throughout our conversation she was clearly resisting the urge to check her phone, as new stats, fan comments, and potential opportunities were supposed to pile up. She asked what she was doing for fun and seemed really confused by the question.
It’s a hard life if you get the rewards. It’s still hard if someone else is using you. Last week, a top-tier Twitch company alleged that its partner spent years manipulating her and forcing her to stream on the platform after taking control of her finances and bank account. She described the world she was living in in a “luxury prison”, claiming that broadcasting for 12 to 15 hours was not her choice and that the rewards of doing it were not all hers. In a follow-up video, she said she was safe and happy to be out: “You don’t have to wear a cleft every day.”
In a recent interview, Twitch CEO Emmett Shear acknowledged that the company’s relationship with its streaming devices needed to change – but called on the US government to take the first step. “It’s not quite a W-2 job and it’s not exactly a contractual job,” Tell Bloomberg (£). “I think we could really use the legislation that created a third option that was right for the gig economy and the creative economy.
“One of the fundamental dynamics of the creative economy is that technology companies are not accustomed to the level at which innovators rely on their businesses,” he added. “The quick change in how the product works is not just a matter of ‘This person didn’t get many views on their video’, but rather ‘This person can’t rent this month. “
Acknowledging that the relationship needs to change, it’s the beginning. But Twitch can do more for its creators than wait for the government to make them bogus employees. The question is whether he will do it before they turn to someone else who can.
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