Since its launch in 2011, Twitch has become a lucrative asset in the creator economy, with creators making millions after becoming household names on the live stream platform.
However, the streaming service has come under fire after announcing a number of divisive “sponsorship experiments” which, in a Twitter thread, the organization described as “new ways for brands to fuel streamer earnings.”
The monetization experiments—which Twitch says will be ongoing throughout the month of April—are composed of four main types: Streamer-read Ads, Sponsored Gift Subs, Sub Codes, and Sponsored Sub Discounts.
Twitch’s website says these changes will make sponsorships more “lucrative” for creators and “scalable” on its platform. But according to some of Twitch’s most prominent streamers, these proposed changes—especially the Sponsored Sub Discounts—are a lot more controversial than they might appear to be at first glance.
What are the changes Twitch is proposing?
Streamer-read ads are readouts of branded talking points that will take place live and simultaneously across multiple streams. Sponsored Gift Subs enable brands to buy and gift subscriptions to viewers “at scale,” while Sub Codes will allow brands to buy subscription codes ahead of time and sell them off-platform to their audience.
Finally, the Sponsored Sub Discounts are described by Twitch as an extension of their existing SUBtember program, when brands sponsor discounted subscriptions for Twitch viewers—the sponsored Sub Discounts, specifically, are what creators consider to be the most controversial.
“Why would you willingly take a sponsorship with such a big cut when you could work with these companies one-on-one?” Stephen Spohn, who goes by Spawn on Twitch, asked Passionfruit, “Now the argument is not every partner has access to these companies, and that is a valid counterpoint. But I would rather see Twitch build a system to facilitate introductions between sponsors looking to find community leaders and people who value particular brands.”
Streamers react to Twitch sponsorship experiments
“This is an awful idea,” streamer and YouTuber Triple G said in a Twitter response to Twitch. “You want to insert yourselves into a process that doesn’t need you, and then get the brands to pay streamers through subs of which you take half.”
“Sponsorships don’t come around very often for many, so some streamers may see this as an opportunity to gain more income,” he added to the tweet, explaining that while the short-term gains may seem compelling, “the long-term effects this practice could have on you, will ultimately leave you worse off.”
In a statement to Passionfruit, Triple G added, “It seems like Twitch wants to act like a management agency for smaller streamers, but these agencies would not take the cut that Twitch does.”
Echoing Triple G’s sentiment, Daniel Heaysman, who goes by Hayz on Twitch, said in a statement to Passionfruit that “Twitch may be trying to get a piece of our sponsorship pie but they’ll also be acting as an agency and may be bringing brand deals to streamers that might not have already ran sponsored content before. … BUT I guarantee … the payment they offer will be nowhere near the standard rate that streamers would expect.”
“What’s the issue with just paying us normally?” he added. “You know, into a bank account?”
Concerns around Twitch’s potential monetary gain from the Sponsored Subs Discounts were a recurring theme in replies to Twitch’s Twitter thread, with several Twitch Partners echoing Triple G’s thoughts.
“Whilst this may make things more streamlined for some people. It honestly sounds like you are just trying to take a cut from sponsored content,” streamer Pestily wrote. “Unless I’m misreading something.” Others like JackRiper and Descry replied in agreement with Pestily, with Descry admitting, “That’s exactly what I get from this.”
Many streamers in the replies section of Twitch’s tweet announcement also brought up the streamers’ 50-50 sub split with creators, a controversial practice implemented in October 2022 that saw the platform take half of a creator’s earnings from Twitch subscriptions rather than the previous 70-30 split.
“No offense, but you already take so much of the profit—why would I let you dip your hand in the one portion you don’t get a say in?” streamer Sneegsnag asked in a response tweet. “No thanks,” Paladin Amber added in a tweet of her own. “I like to manage my sponsorships and the income I personally derive from that work myself.”
As Spawn told Passionfruit, “There are so many people trying to do so much good inside Twitch, if the company would just listen to these people, and ask creators themselves what they want and what would help them build better communities, Twitch would find the answers they’re looking for.”
Twitch did not respond to Passionfruit’s request for comment via email in time for the publication of this story.
Are you a Twitch creator with thoughts on the new partnership program? Message us at [email protected].