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Kick is Twitch’s controversial new archrival, here’s why

Livestreaming platform Kick logo

Kick is attempting to do what Mixer couldn’t and become a legitimate competitor to Twitch, but the history of the platform and the names attached to it are still a mystery to many.

Twitch has had many competitors over the years. Almost every major social media site has tried to integrate some sort of livestreaming functionality into their platform, while other companies have launched their own dedicated streaming platforms. So far Twitch hasn’t just beaten the competition, it has grown its market share while doing so.

Kick is looking to do what Mixer, YouTube, and Facebook haven’t been able to do and become an actual competitor to Twitch. Here’s what Kick does differently, how it works, and who is streaming on the platform today.

What is Kick?

Kick is a livestreaming platform with an emphasis on video games and gambling.

The platform was launched in December 2022, two months after Twitch began more heavily policing gambling-related content. The move came after several contentious months where prominent content creators publicly bickered over on-air gambling.

Who owns Kick?

Streamer Tyler “TrainwrecksTV” Niknam and Stake.com founders Bijan Tehrani and Ed Craven are among the owners of Kick. That said, there is no clear picture of Kick’s leadership or ownership picture beyond those three being involved.

Craven is serving as Kick’s CEO and has taken on a public-facing role with the company. This includes everything from taking interviews to making announcements about the state of the platform.

Are Kick and Twitch the same?

Kick and Twitch have a similar product, but they are two separate companies with a handful of key differences between them.

Both are livestreaming platforms that generally focus on video games, with viewers able to donate to streamers through “subscriptions” that can be purchased for oneself or as a gift for another viewer. They also share a number of notable content creators, with many of Kick’s top names coming from Twitch. However, the two companies have different ownership and are officially competitors.

The one area of operational overlap between the two lies in Kick’s use of Amazon Web Services for its streaming and hosting needs. Twitch is a wholly owned subsidiary of Amazon, with Twitch’s livestreaming technology also offered independently from the platform. Despite this, the two sites are completely separate entities.

Is Kick any different from Twitch?

Kick has a different monetization system from Twitch and has lax rules regarding gambling-focused content.

The key difference between the two platforms is that the fledgling platform doesn’t shave nearly as much money off the top of subscriptions as Twitch. Twitch pockets 50% of the money that fans give their favorite streamer through subscriptions, while Kick only takes 5%. This revenue split has been a point of contention between Twitch and top streamers.

From a content perspective, the two sites are largely the same. Kick separates itself from Twitch by offering more freedom to gambling-related streams and heavily promoting them. Twitch famously barred streamers from showing a number of online casinos, including Stake.com. Many speculate that this prompted Stake’s owners to launch their own streaming platform, though Craven said plans were in the works before this.

Does Stake.com own Kick?

Kick is not owned by gambling site Stake, but the two companies have multiple shareholders in common. In a June 2023 interview with Jake Lucky, CEO Ed Craven responded to a question on whether Kick is owned by Stake:

“A lot of people say that Kick is owned by Stake. Kick is definitely not owned by Stake in that capacity. We share some similar shareholders, myself included. I’ve been very vocal about that from day dot…There are individuals, key individuals, that are heavily involved in both and we’re not trying to hide that by any means. We never have,” Craven said.

Craven went on to say that the plan for making Kick a sustainable business lies in attracting advertisers and suggested that the overlap with Stake plays no role in that. He then stated that the platform would “never” run Stake ads, citing the testy relationship between the gambling industry and streaming fans.

Does Kick allow NSFW content like nudity?

Kick expressly forbids nudity and has generally similar rules to those found on other social media platforms.

While Kick is mostly known for being a landing spot for those who are regularly banned by Twitch, the site’s rules are largely the same as its competitors. Kick’s community guidelines state that “Kick prohibits activities and material that…Contain nudity, are pornographic, or depict sexual activity, actual or simulated.” It also says that streamers cannot “facilitate, encourage, offer, or solicit sexual conduct.”

Alongside this, the platform has a long list of other rules in common with Twitch. It forbids illegal content and actions that can lead to targeted harassment such as hate speech and doxxing. There are also rules against using third-party software to gain a competitive advantage in multiplayer games.

That said, Kick will allow much of the same content that is unsafe for younger audiences as Twitch. M-rated video games are commonplace, there is a dedicated section for hot tub streaming, and streams involving gambling are more prominently featured on Kick than Twitch.

What streamers are on Kick?

Kick has signed contracts with a number of prominent streamers including Felix “xQc” Lengyel, Kaitlyn “Amouranth” Siragusa, and Adin Ross.

Like Mixer, Kick has looked to attract viewers by signing deals with prominent figures on Twitch. This has seen the platform start partnerships with some of the biggest names in streaming, with those partnerships having different terms and degrees of exclusivity attached to them.

In June 2023, Kick signed a non-exclusive deal with xQc that is reportedly worth over $100 million. A few days later, Amouranth announced that she was also moving to Kick.

Alongside the splashy signings, Kick has become the primary landing spot for streamers who have been banned by Twitch. Adin Ross received multiple bans for hate speech, but quickly became one of the leading names attached to Kick. Other streamers who have been banned for problematic behavior such as Dimitri “GreekGodx” Antonatos started streaming on the platform in response to bans on Twitch.

Others like chess streamer Hikaru Nakamura started streaming on Kick to maintain a presence on as many social medial platforms as possible. These streamers don’t have exclusive partnerships with the platform and still appear on Twitch.

Why is Kick controversial?

Kick is considered controversial due to its emphasis on gambling content and its willingness to partner with individuals banned for hate speech.

Though Kick isn’t technically owned by online casino Stake, the two companies have multiple major shareholders in common with one of Stake’s founders serving as Kick’s CEO. Alongside this, some of the biggest names on the platform primarily stream gambling-related content with “Slots and Casino” being a heavily promoted category as a result.

Some of the biggest names attached to Twitch have also been sources of significant controversy. Adin Ross repeatedly made the news after signing with Kick by making transphobic comments, encouraging political streamer Hasan “HasanAbi” Piker to harm himself, and voicing support for influencer Andrew Tate after Tate admitted to abusing women and was charged with human trafficking.

The site has courted many internet personalities with similarly controversial backgrounds. Steven “Destiny” Bonnell lost Twitch partner status after calling for violence against racial equality protesters, but was signed to a deal by Kick. Nick “Nickmercs” Kolcheff also received a lucrative Twitch contract after drumming up controversy for anti-LGBTQ comments on Twitter.

Can Kick beat Twitch?

Kick could become a viable alternative to Twitch, but there are many questions regarding its long-term financial viability.

The selling point of Kick to content creators is a stronger revenue split than what Twitch offers and the potential for an hourly rate. While this has been enough to attract a handful of prominent names, the platform has no means of income in place and its path to sustainability is unclear.

Twitch generates revenue by taking between 20% and 30% of donations made via bits, skimming 50% of the money from subscriptions, and delivering ads purchased by sponsors. Kick takes significantly less money from donations made by viewers and currently has no ads. This has led to questions regarding how the platform can become sustainable.

Many have speculated that the end goal for Kick is to convert viewers into bettors on Stake or other betting platforms. Company CEO Ed Craven said that this isn’t the case and that the plan is to take on advertisers to generate revenue. Twitch itself has struggled with attracting advertisers and providing value for them, which has sparked questions about whether an upstart competitor with close ties to the gambling industry and a stable of controversial content creators can do better.

The X-factor in all this is the numerous changes in Twitch’s revenue model and ad policies that have drawn sweeping criticism from streamers and other stakeholders. If these tensions come to a head, it could result in an exodus from the platform that gives an opening to competitors.

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Written by Steven Rondina

Steven Rondina has been playing video games since he was a toddler and appreciates every genre out there. He has earned the platinum trophy in every Soulsborne game, is regularly Master Ball-ranked on the competitive Pokemon ladder, and has spent thousands of hours missing shots on Dust 2.

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