Twitch, an Amazon service, has been instrumental in building the careers of many online celebrities. They livestream videos of themselves for long periods of time and earn millions per year. A controversial new platform has emerged that is attracting talent and crafting deals. It’s also dividing the industry.
Felix “xQc Lengyel” and Kaitlyn Siragusa, two of Twitch’s biggest stars. They amassed almost 20 million Twitch followers between them. In June, they both signed lucrative contracts to work with Kick, a platform that boasts a more relaxed moderation policy and practice. The two left during an exodus that has continued despite criticism about Kick and reports that the platform has connections to influential figures in the gambling industry.
Since Amazon purchased Twitch in 2014 for $970 millions, the platform enjoys a near monopoly on US streaming. The business boomed especially during the pandemic. According The Verge hours watched increased by 101% from March 2020 to April 2020. By May 2020 it reached 1.645 trillion hours per month.
Some of Twitch’s biggest creators have negotiated more lucrative 70/30 deals.
In September, the platform caused a stir when it announced that it would remove some streamers from their 70/30 cut.
Twitch’s president Dan Clancy said that this change would help Twitch not only pay for the increasing costs of live video hosting, but also help streamers.
In an interview with The New York Times , he stated that “the more we grow the audience, the better for our streamers.” It’s important to be able sustainably and steadily invest in the future.
Enter Kick. The platform was launched eight months back, and is backed by industry giants Bijan Tehrani and Ed Craven who are the co-founders and CEOs of Stake.com an online casino in Australia and Tyler “Trainwreck Niknam”, a popular gambler and gamer. The concept is similar to Twitch, but with a major difference: streamers get a 95/5 revenue share. Kick’s spokesperson called the split a “simple math on a napkin for any Twitch Creator who is tired of giving Twitch 50% of their subscription dollar.”
In a statement that was posted on X, formerly Twitter, Niknam blasted Twitch. He said the company had “built an Empire off [streamers]’ backs and have the audacity spit in our faces.” Niknam praised Kick’s creator friendly policies and promised to “make live-streaming better.”
Twitch, in what was widely perceived as an attempt to win back the trust of creators, reverted to its original payment structure plan. Instead, it introduced the partner plus program which allows eligible streaming to earn 70% on their subscription revenue up to $100,000 per year. By then, streamers had been waiting for something different.
Siragusa’s choice was easy. In an interview, she stated that “I was Twitch’s top female streamer but they never acknowledged me.” “On the contrary, Kick has been open and communicative from the start. They are willing to listen to suggestions. “There are people who can make decisions about the future of the platform.
Siragusa’s contract details have not yet been made public. However, Lengyel’s deal has attracted significant attention. It is a non-exclusive two-year deal worth $100 million, which rivals some sports contracts.
Lengyel, in a statement, expressed his excitement over the partnership. He said that Kick allows him to do things he has never been able to do before. “I am very excited to maximize this opportunity into new creative and innovative ideas in the coming years.”
They are not the only ones to leave Twitch. Tyler Blevins, known as “Ninja”, a popular Fortnite streaming star, and Hikaru Nakamura, chess master, have both joined Kick in recent months. They brought their fans with them.
Several popular streamers have expressed concerns over the gambling content of Kick.
Marcus “djWheat”, Twitch’s former Director of Creator Development, who is now Vice President of Community Development at Fortis Games, called Kick a “sham” in a post made on X.
He said that the platform was not transparent about its reported links to crypto gambling.
The front page still prominently displays subcategories of streams that feature “Slots and casinos” — even though Craven assured userslast week that the platform will remove “some unnecessarily exposed” content.
Twitch has banned certain gambling content including Stake.com streaming activities last year after threats from various creators.
Dr. Timothy Fong is a codirector of UCLA’s Gambling Studies Program and he fears that Kick’s lack transparency in regards to the gambling content it offers on its platform may be dangerous.
He said, “They don’t call themselves gaming companies and they are not gambling companies.” “It’s like YouTube but also like PlayStation 5 but also like Las Vegas.”
Some streamers have been sponsored to produce such content, including Lengyel — a href=”https://clips.twitch.tv/AmericanRudePastaSwiftRage-OfvrEM766xLIrAlr”>who previously admitted to a gambling problem/a> and apologized for exposing his audience, many of whom were underage, through his gambling content. Some streamers are even sponsored to create such content. Lengyel, , who admitted to having a gambling addiction, apologized to his audience for his gambling content. His latest Kick stream featured Stake.com slots.
Fong stated that gambling is regulated for public safety and health.
A Kick spokesperson noted that gambling was popular on other platforms than Kick. “We have heard the calls against gambling and on your dashboard, you can remove all gambling content.”
Hasan “Hasanabi”, who has a contract to distribute his streaming video content through Twitch, is one of Twitch’s largest partners. He led the fight to rid Twitch’s platform of predatory gambling in 2013. Now he is among Kick’s critics.
Piker stated in an interview with NBC News: “Streaming is a bit more interactive than any other media out there.” It’s unique. It is for this reason that creators are even more responsible to behave in a certain manner.
He continued: “When you are a content creator, and you promote a brand on stream, people give you money, because they believe there will be a return. The return on investment in gambling is that you will see your audience gamble.
Siragusa disagrees. She said: “It’s not fair to hold creators accountable for business models outside their control.”
Lengyel is known for rebuking critics of Kick and his deal. He suggested in a cryptic tweet that his opponents are “flexing their morals and ethical standards on people” because of “pure fear.”
Piker, however, said this assessment was unfair. Piker said that he wouldn’t consider a rival Kick deal, no matter how lucrative it was.
He said, “I’ve been approached before to do gambling streams.” “I was offered a half-million dollars to play poker. And I declined. “I didn’t believe that was appropriate.”