A few years ago, if you were a streamer, you were on Twitch – so simple. With the exception of a few selected content creators, everyone who wanted to be featured had to use Twitch's platform. It was the only successful game in town. But over the last year, the broadcast situation has changed. Twitch remains a major streaming platform, but some of its biggest creators have signed special deals with platforms such as Mixer, Caffeine, YouTube, and Facebook Gaming.
Which leaves fans with the question: Why? The answer is a lot more complicated than you might think.
The first broadcast to leave Twitch was Tyler “Ninja” Blevins. Almost a well-known founder, Blevins signed a special deal with Mixer in August 2019. Blevins was one of Twitch's biggest stars and became one of the world's most recognizable broadcasters. He has been featured in talk shows, in partnership with the NFL for Super Bowl commercial, played with celebrities like Drake, and won tournaments.
In the months that have taken place, Blevins has talked extensively about the reasons for leaving Twitch. The best among them was his wishes without propaganda. While he made public appearances previously, they have always interrupted his broadcasting career.
"Do you know the difficulty of broadcasting other tasks?" Blevins on Twitter in 2018. “I have been traveling for less than 48 hours and have lost 40,000 subscribers. I'm back today (Wednesday) to continue grinding again. "
Looking back, it is clear that Blevins & # 39; s departure was a sea change in the broadcast industry. If one of the biggest broadcasters can leave Twitch, anyone can.
Brandon Freytag, chief executive of Loaded – a talented company that represents Blevins and many other well-known broadcasters – tells Polygon that Ninja's team is well aware of this as they began a deal with Mixer.
“We knew well that Tyler going to Mixer was just the beginning of something. To what degree, I don't know, ”Freytag said. “We knew well that Tyler would open the door. It will definitely change the job. ”
Within a few months, Twitch's other top disruptive broadcasters – Jack “Courage” Dunlop, Mike “Shroud” Grzesiek, Jeremy “Hidden Toast” Wang – have started changing platforms. While most Twitch broadcasters have opted to leave, this new season has led to some broadcasters signing agreements to stay with Twitch, such as Ben "DrLupo" Lupo, squib "Lirik" Zahid, and Timothy "TimTheTatman" Betar. Which means that the broadcasting industry isn't from Twitch; it simply disappears.
Why are the radios going?
Whenever a streamer announces their move to a new location, the questions asked by fans are probably the same. They may suggest that the broadcast will lose viewers, or ask how much it would put in a certain segment.
Broadcasters like Blevins and Grzesiek have become important down to average viewers since it moved to Mixer, and with fewer viewers comes fewer subscribers. To balance that, it's important to remember that these broadcasters sign special contracts, which often come with financial compensation.
While the financial details of all these contracts remain confidential, many estimates have acknowledged that these are various major agreements. Some, like a streamer Sebastian “Forsen” Fors, compare them that topers like Blevins can make $ 6 million to $ 8 a year from these pens. Although those estimates are higher than actual figures, the proceeds from the contracts will help offset the decline for some viewers. But for the sake of broadcasting on their own, these decisions often come down to more than a dollar amount (though that's part of it).
Although not every streaming service can have a dedicated audience such as Twitch, Freytag explains that each contributes its own benefits that can attract broadcast. For Betar, Twitch's partnership with broadcasting and the NFL allows him to broadcast football games to his viewers while engaging in conversation and commenting on the game. It is a unique experience that no other streaming service can provide.
At the time, Freytag says Mixer is opening up his broadcasting opportunities through his parent company, Microsoft.
"The idea, and that Mixer and Microsoft provided (Ninja), was the right thing for him to continue to grow his product and continue to promote it," Freytag said.
Since moving to Facebook Gaming in November last year, Wang has already noticed a difference in the types of viewers.
"There are a lot of people on Facebook, especially in Southeast Asia," Wang said. “They just used it as their primary means of communication. They should not watch the Twitch broadcast. I would say that most of them are not looking for streaming right now, but viewers are already on the platform, and the ability to make some of them move into streaming viewership has been very exciting to me. ”
One of the things that helped persuade Lupo to sign a deal with Twitch was with the local audience. streams for St. Children's Research Hospital.
For some broadcasters, moving to a different platform presents a new challenge to help build something. While these streaming services are not new, these partnerships give broadcasters the opportunity to have a say in shaping the platform further. For some, like Wang, that may even raise the appeal of joining a new service.
"I'm kind of feeling the need to digest when it comes to broadcasting," Wang said. “So, for example, when the release of Teamfight Tactics was released, I think I could do 12 hours daily streams every two weeks. And obviously, it's hell on my body, but I really enjoyed it. But when that is over, like, day by day, I feel worthless – like, meaningless. It's just like, I'll be broadcasting today and going to broadcast tomorrow. And I saw no challenge there. (…) The reason I go to Facebook is, I feel like there is an unlocked market. "
Regarding Twitch's latest departure for streamers such as Grzesiek, Blevins, and Dunlop, Loading chief executive Freytag says, "It's fun to start afresh and try new things. I think that's part of the reason Tyler and Mike and Jack moved to Mixer and YouTube, respectively. platform before, in the sense of comparing it to Twitch – they become part of that growth process and provide feedback. ”
It's a process Freytag thinks can benefit from all services and broadcasts. With so many different competing platforms and many flowers that help push those platforms to the right place, everyone wins, according to Freytag. One example of what Freytag offers is that the cost of subscribing to Mixer was often a dollar higher than what happened on Twitch; Mixer has since reduced Twitch's rating.
"That, it was a great achievement (to continue) to grow this sector," Freytag said. “The competition is healthy. It motivates everyone in a way that continues to advance this sector. ”
Perhaps the biggest benefit of spreading flowers is to get some leisure time. At the height of his broadcast, Blevins talked about working 12-hour days to continue his pursuit. When all broadcasts are on the same platform, everyone is always part of the scrum, communicating with each other in a better way with more subscribers and viewers. It gets tired.
Partnering with a particular site helps give providers the ability to take breaks now and then, according to Freytag.
"The word & # 39; holiday & # 39; s not in the world of broadcasting often, and that's because, naturally, everyone has to grind and set the tone for hours," explained Freytag. "Previously the industry has been difficult for many people. they have these broadcast times, and it is unhealthy to do so much, so it gives them more flexibility there. ”
When the worldview spreads outward, and developers move to various platforms, the lanes suddenly open. Being a senior innovator moving to a new platform can mean that you are contributing your view, but it also means maintaining a loyal following – and most importantly, putting yourself ahead of endless digestion. With only a few broadcasts on stage, it is easy to get highlighted, especially if you come with a built-in fan base. Even broadcasters like DrLupo, TimtheTatman, and Lirik who have chosen to stay with Twitch benefit from that change. With smaller users using high-speed broadcasts to compete, the need for as much Internet coverage as possible is somewhat relaxing.
Wang describes his first few weeks on Facebook as a huge improvement in his well-being.
“It's good,” she says, “It's a great way to relax. Part of the difficulty I had on Twitch was just having to grind daily to try to stay on top. While on Facebook, it's a little relaxing. "
Wang goes on to say, "I think it's obvious in my behavior, because sometimes, when I'm on Twitch, I broadcast something I don't want to broadcast – but I follow the broadcast. Like, my feelings; I have more snack." rather than trying to keep up with the experience, saying, "Of course my mental health."
Where do the platforms come from?
Developing new talent is essential for new streaming services. While pulling in some of the big-name broadcasts is good for platforms like YouTube, Mixer, and Facebook right now, that's not the main purpose. Ultimately, the whole platform wants to be known as a place where new stars like Ninja, DisguisedToast, and Shroud can start popping up.
And each platform's process for building these stars is a little different. On YouTube, young creators can get a follow-up or can be streamed, with clips and high-quality broadcasts on their YouTube channel. Facebook has a collaborative program called Level Up that offers new developers various ways to help them develop and grow their channels.
"These are people from all over the world who are just taking the opportunity to start their broadcasting activities," said Leo Olebe, Facebook's global director of sports partnerships. "Maybe they are catching up, they are not planning for the best yet, but wow, they really want to be. They are alive, they can reach an audience, they can grow those viewers, and they are able to generate revenue through their broadcast."
Twitch and Mixer both offer partner programs that can help young flowers grow and gain access to advanced features. But this partnership with new and emerging broadcasters comes with the dangers of the sites themselves. Recently, Mixer blocked a streamer of a tweet saying, "Come and watch registered sex games (sic) Fortnite I'm 10 years old! ”And a link to his broadcast.
One of the new streaming services is trying to build it, as opposed to the streaming talent trying to develop it. Each new partnership with a popular brand is a proxy for site ownership, and gives fans a new way of thinking about the platform. This makes choosing high-profileers – especially those who sign special contracts – much more difficult.
"The only way you can build a global game community is to truly appreciate and think about what that community can be," he said on Facebook. He also says Facebook is prioritizing creators who will interact well with the on-stage communities, which makes Wang – whom Olebe calls super positive and thoughtful – a great addition to Facebook Gaming.
What does this mean for viewers?
While these changes may be positive for new designers and platforms, the effect on viewers is less clear. The most loyal streamer followers can follow them in whatever service they go to, but what about everyone?
It's easy to see a world where game streaming is changing into something similar to current streaming battles between Netflix, Disney Plus, Peacock, and Amazon (and soon others). Viewers can access their favorite stream in one stage, then switch to another site to view different streams. Maybe if you love football, you tend to stream the TimTheTatman weekly Thursday Night Football.
In discussing how all of these components between platforms affect the way people view Twitch radios, Olebe on Facebook says he believes eventually viewers will find their favorite site and stay there, building small groups and communities on each platform.
With all the competing platforms to attract the best talent available to anyone just starting out, the balance of power seems to have changed for radio editors for the first time. When Twitch was the only real platform, developers had no choice to make things work there. Now, as the industry opens up, developers have more options than ever to find the right fit for themselves and their community. A little bit of control can help make streamer life easier and less stressful. And happy streaming means better streaming for viewers – even if it means they have to give up the luxury and familiarity of Twitch.