If you participate in the Twitch side of the Twittersphere (or, well, any form of social media, really), you’ve probably seen the hashtag #SubOffTwitch. This feels especially prevalent as of late given the state of things on Twitch itself, including (but not limited to) the current hate raid situation.
This post isn’t about the hate raids and, in fact, will not touch on them. However, they are part of the reason why I actively support the movement to subscribe to your favorite streamers off of Twitch.
Before we go too much further into this, I just want to make something clear. In no way am I saying that financially supporting your favorite streamers is something you absolutely need to do. Everyone’s financial situation is going to be different, after all. Even if they want to, someone might not be able to afford to throw money at the streamers they genuinely enjoy watching. Not everyone wants to do that, either. Or maybe the only money a person can really afford to give to a streamer is the free Twitch Prime subscription they get every month. I get it.
If you are, however, capable of throwing money at a streamer and it’s something you genuinely want to do, I wholeheartedly encourage you to find out if that streamer has a Patreon or a Ko-Fi or some other method of external financial support and give the money you would put towards subscribing to them on Twitch to that other platform.
I’m aware that this may seem a bit odd to hear coming from someone who is a Twitch Affiliate. However, I am saying this for a very specific reason.
Twitch takes far too much from its streamers.
It’s common knowledge that when a streamer becomes a Twitch Affiliate or Partner, viewers have the opportunity to financially support a streamer through either a monthly subscription at various price points (the lowest being about $5 USD) or through virtual currency called bits that viewers pay for with real money.
What may not be common knowledge, however, is this: Twitch takes half of whatever you, the viewer, may give through Twitch to your favorite streamers.
Say you subscribe to a streamer’s channel at that $5 USD price point. Because Twitch has a 50%/50% split with their streamers, both the platform and the streamer get $2.50 USD per subscription.
And before you ask if that’s just a subscription-specific thing, I’m sad to say that it is not. Twitch takes half of whatever bits you give to a streamer, as well. So even if you only contribute one whole bit to a streamer, 1 bit is the equivalent of 1 cent, meaning the streamer sees less than one whole cent from that singular bit.
Now, I’m not objecting to the fact that Twitch takes a cut of a streamer’s subscription and bit revenue. Far from it. The platform is going to take a cut, and I get that. They have an entire platform to maintain and employees to pay.
I am, however, objecting to the fact that Twitch takes as large of a cut as they do, especially when compared to other platforms that allow creators to earn income for their work, such as YouTube which I personally would consider a major competitor to Twitch.
One way a YouTube channel can make money is through ad revenue, of which YouTube takes about 45% and creators 55%. So already, a YouTuber who can monetize their channel in such a way is better off than a Twitch Affiliate.
But that isn’t the only way a YouTuber can monetize their channel! In 2018, YouTube officially launched a channel membership program that offers a lot of similar benefits to Twitch subscriptions. The kicker? Creators get to take home 70% of that membership revenue. 70%! YouTube only takes 30% of that!
And I haven’t even mentioned some of the smaller platforms, such as Ko-Fi which only takes about 6% of their newly launched tiered subscription program (unless you’re a Ko-Fi Gold member, of course), or Fanhouse which takes a grand total of 10% from creators.
Monetization features in favor of creators work, and they work well. Given the sheer number of streamers that earn money on Twitch directly, it isn’t as though Twitch can’t afford to make adjustments to their pay structure so it’s more in the favor of their streamers especially given that they’re now backed by Amazon.
In doing some research, I discovered that Twitch does have a system put in place in favor of the streamers, but only if they consider a streamer “top tier.” There doesn’t seem to be a standard set of criteria for what they’d consider a “top tier” streamer, but generally, it seems like their top tier streamers average about 10,000 views a stream. For these select few, Twitch takes 30% as opposed to the 50% they take from everyone else.
However, a creator shouldn’t have to be considered “top tier” in order to benefit from a structure like that. Lots of platforms just have them for creators by default or have a relatively low bar to entry for things like this. So why does Twitch insist on being stuck in a structure that their competitors either completely ignore or leave in the dirt?
The answer is honestly a mystery to me, but it’s the major reason why I will continue to encourage people to support their favorite streamers on platforms that are not Twitch. Creators deserve better, and so far, Twitch has not proven to me that it can do better.