Have you heard the biggest streaming news this decade? Felix “xQc” Lengyel has just signed a record-breaking $100 million deal with live streaming platform Kick. According to the New York Times, the retired “Overwatch” pro turned live streamer signed a non-exclusive two-year “roughly $70 million contract, with incentives that could push the total to about $100 million.” That makes him one of the highest-paid entertainers in all media, commanding a yearly salary higher than those of sports superstars like Kevin Durant, Aaron Judge, and Mike Trout.
But things might be a little less awe-inspiring than the splashy headline suggests. Kick itself is backed by the Australian gaming site EasyGo and the crypto gambling site Stake. The new live-streaming site popped up around October 2022, just one month after Twitch changed its rules banning unregulated crypto gambling on the platform. Gambling is now popular on Kick, with its “Slot and Casino” section often having tens of thousands of viewers.
And Lengyel absolutely loves to gamble — especially on Stake. In August 2022, he admitted to wagering over $685 million since he started gambling on camera in early 2021. Though Lengyel has left gambling before, so far, he’s always come back. In June 2021 he said he was “done with” it, but in May 2022 he took sponsorship from Stake to play slots. He continued to play on and off until Twitch changed its rules.
“You know what, at the end of the day, I was like, I love gambling, so I’m just going to gamble,” Lengyel said on a May 2022 stream.
On Twitch, Lengyel has over 11.8 million followers, many of which could have been drawn to sites like Stake after watching their favorite streamer win large payouts. Even though it’s spending $100 million, Kick is getting a streamer with a built-in audience of millions that want to watch any type of content Lengyel, aka the “juicer,” makes.
Kick needed good publicity. Ever since the platform launched late last year, it’s been mired by a string of controversies. On camera, streamers have had intercourse with sex workers, received oral sex, and shown the entirety of the Super Bowl. One of its top streamers, Andrew Tate acolyte Adin Ross, encouraged a viewer to throw urine on a family member and streamed porn to his audience.
It felt like the Wild West of streaming, somewhere between the normies on Twitch and the racists of Rumble. But the rules have already started to change. On Lengyel’s first stream on Monday, he started watching “The Dark Knight,” but he stopped after Kick moderators told him not to do so since it broke their DMCA policy.
Some streamers, like Pokimane, have spoken out saying they aren’t impressed by current streaming platforms besides Twitch. But some are: Shortly after Lengyel announced his departure, fellow streamer Amouranth followed suit, announcing she is leaving Twitch for Kick. She hasn’t yet released the details of her deal.
This commotion might be good PR for both Lengyel and Kick, but it does create some worry for those of us that have been watching the streaming world, illuminating a lot of the core fundamental cracks in Kick’s armor. Kick can’t just keep giving out nine-figure deals to streamers without making money itself. The platform also serves its videos on Amazon Web Services, essentially giving their competitor a paycheck to keep running.
Right now, Kick’s advertising is sparse (with fewer ads than competitors) and most of the subscriber revenue goes to the streamer rather than the platform, with a 95-5 split. It’s unclear how much Stake is funding Kick, but it can’t keep it afloat forever.
It’s the problem that ultimately ended Mixer, Microsoft’s now-defunct live-streaming platform. It signed several large streamers, including Tyler “Ninja” Blevins who earned between $20 and $30 million for a several-year exclusivity deal. The site went belly up in July 2020, unable to maintain a large enough audience to justify how much it spent.
Some fear that Kick could suffer that same fate, especially since they are going down that exclusivity route. Lengyel is currently going through a messy common-law divorce which has consistently bled through into his content. On June 7, Lengyel tweeted a “house tour” after the police came to his house allegedly after his former girlfriend Samantha Lopez posted a picture of her hand near his face while he was sleeping on Instagram Story.
Lengyel will still stream on Twitch, and his numbers on Kick are already lower. His Monday stream has 10,000 views on Kick while his Twitch stream is sitting at over half a million. But if the platform can continue fueling his gambling habit while he takes a massive paycheck, there’s no reason for him to stop.
Lengyel and his agent Ryan Morrison didn’t respond to Passionfruit’s request for comment.