The Brief: While many Twitch streamers create content as a fun hobby, others make Twitch their full-time job, taking advantage of its lucrative economy based on paid subscribers, donations, sponsorships and ad revenue.
Playing video games for a living might be the new economic dream of those who love gaming and hate leaving their house. With gaming competitions, YouTube, Patreon, and Twitch, gamers now have a real chance to make money doing what they love.
How do people make money on Twitch?
Twitch streamers with over 50 followers can become “Twitch Affiliates,” making them eligible to earn a portion of the profits from ads viewed on their streams, and allowing them to have paid subscribers. More popular Twitch streamers can join the Twitch Partner Program. This makes it so that Twitch promotes their stream and they have more opportunities to earn from subscriptions, donations, and affiliate programs.
Subscribers can pay $5-$25 per month to support their favorite streamers. In return, they get to watch their streams without ads, and they get access to certain exclusive animated emojis in the chats.
Twitch splits subscription revenue with streamers 50/50, but donations can be made directly to streamers, without Twitch receiving a cut. Donations can range from a few dollars to tens of thousands. Motivation to donate can come from someone’s desire to support streamers or to have their moment of fame online. When someone donates during a live stream, they usually get a shoutout and a thank you from the streamer. The donation of large sums of money has become an online spectacle, with people donating upwards of $50,000, and recording streamers’ (sometimes performative) thankful and amazed reactions. For example YouTuber MrBeast‘s most highly viewed videos feature him donating huge sums of money to live streamers.
Streamers on Twitch can also make money from brand sponsorships, selling fan merch, and adding affiliate links to their page. Fans can also purchase bits: animated gifs that can be sent in the Twitch chat. Streamers receive a portion of the money made from each bit used in their chat.
Is this a way to get rich quick?
Although the average streamer will not likely make money from their Twitch streams, the platform is becoming increasingly lucrative for some. Successful streamers have their total earnings publicized and gawked at, perpetuating a narrative that anyone can get rich on Twitch.
Out of February 2018, out of over two million monthly streamers, there were over 27,000 Twitch partners and 150,000 affiliates. Streaming full-time is no easy job. The minority of Twitch streamers who do make money from their work put in long hours, keeping up their followings, and constantly producing new, engaging content.
It is unlikely, but possible that the typical individual streamer will be able to sustain a reasonable salary from their streaming. For most, getting rich quick from Twitch will remain an unattainable fantasy.
While some streamers are making significant amounts of money individually, Twitch, which was purchased by Amazon in 2014 for nearly a billion dollars, is reaping rewards as well. Twitch divides revenue between its partners and the company itself. It is estimated to be worth over 2o billion dollars.
A select few Twitch streamers will likely continue to make stacks from their gameplay and IRL streams while Twitch rakes in its cut of profits. For most streamers, Twitch provides a fun platform to enjoy and share their hobby, with a tiny, but often overestimated potential to become a lucrative source of income.