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Twitch dominates livestreaming, here’s how it reached the top

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Twitch is one of the biggest social media platforms in the world but unlike Facebook or Twitter, a significant number of people just don’t know about it.

Loads of different tech companies have kicked the tires on livestreaming in one way or another. Almost every social media platform from Instagram to Twitter has dabbled in livestreaming at some point, and most of them have been met with resounding failure.

A big part of that is the success of Twitch. The Amazon subsidiary has been established as the industry leader for years, and has seen its market share grow despite facing growing competition. Here’s everything you need to know about the top livestreaming platform.

What is Twitch used for?

Twitter is a livestreaming platform that allows content creators to broadcast themselves and receive instant feedback from viewers. It’s primarily known for video game-related content but the site has branched out far beyond that.

Much of Twitch centers around livestreaming video game playthroughs, where a gamer will broadcast the footage as they play a video game with a separate camera capturing their face so viewers can see their reactions. This allows direct interaction between the content creator and their viewers in a way that’s different from most other social media platforms. Facebook and YouTube have similar functionality, but the platform has become synonymous with this type of content.

Though Twitch is best known for its gaming content, there are thousands of different categories. From cooking to news analysis to traditional Japanese woodblock printing, everything can be found on Twitch.

What was Twitch’s original name?

Twitch was originally part of Justin.tv, a livestreaming website that moved its gaming content to its own separate domain.

Justin.tv was created by Justin Kan, Emmett Shear, Michael Seibel, and Kyle Vogt, with Kan live-streaming his life 24/7. Eventually, users were able to create their own channel. Though Justin.tv content creators could broadcast anything, it launched Twitch in 2011 as a dedicated video game platform.

Twitch’s popularity exploded from there and the Justin.tv platform and branding dissolved in 2014 so staff could focus its efforts on the new platform. It was sold in its entirety shortly thereafter.

Is Twitch a part of Amazon?

Twitch was purchased by Amazon in 2014 for $970 million and has been a subsidiary of the digital retail giant ever since.

Amazon’s purchase of Twitch followed reports of Google attempting to acquire the platform for around $1 billion through its YouTube subsidiary. Google reportedly stepped away from negotiations due to potential antitrust claims. Instead, YouTube’s live-streaming capabilities were improved with new features including higher video quality and the ability to create clips.

Why did Amazon buy Twitch?

Amazon likely purchased Twitch in 2014 in order to acquire its cutting-edge video streaming technology and incorporate the brand into its suite of tech products. Though Twitch is primarily known as a gaming brand and Amazon is known as a digital retailer, Amazon also owns cloud computing platform Amazon Web Services and a gaming studio.

Acquiring the livestreaming site instantly legitimized Amazon with the international gaming market and positioned the company to market services like Amazon Prime to new demographics. It also provided inroads with video game developers who might be interested in utilizing Amazon Web Services. Additionally, Amazon Web Services’ Interactive Video Service is effectively a standalone product that is built on Twitch’s video streaming.

Is Twitch safe for kids?

Children under 13 years old are unable to make an account on Twitch according to the site’s terms of service and much of the content is meant for a more mature audience.

Amazon has rules regarding nudity, sexist and racist language, violence, and other potentially objectionable content. Despite that, there is a fairly significant amount of content that is not recommended for children.

M-rated games, which are meant for a 17+ audience, are often streamed on Twitch and can contain intense violence or harsh language. There are also many notable streamers who create sexually suggestive content that falls short of actual nudity. Adult content is not allowed on the platform, but parents may want to screen which streamers their children watch.

Do Twitch streamers earn a salary?

Many top Twitch streamers earn a salary from the platform that is contingent on the number of hours they stream. However, these deals are usually reserved for the biggest names on the platform, and the overwhelming majority of personalities make their money in other ways.

The primary ways that streamers earn money on the platform are subscriptions and donations. Viewers can set up a recurring monthly subscription to streamers which can unlock new features with the stream, particularly emojis that can be used in Twitch’s chat. Users can also make one-time donations with Twitch’s proprietary currency which is purchased with real-life money.

Alongside this, streamers have found a variety of other ways to monetize their presence on the platform. Sponsorships, affiliate partnerships, and merchandise are all common among top Twitch streamers.

Does Twitch take 50% of streamers’ money?

In 2022, Twitch changed its revenue model to uniformly take 50% of the money generated from subscriptions to streamers.

Certain streamers were able to negotiate deals with Twitch where they kept 70% of the revenue earned from subscriptions, but this practice was ended by the platform. Some streamers remained on a deal where they kept 70% of the revenue up to $100,000, but would then be on the standard 50-50 deal from there.

“For subscriptions, we use a baseline revenue share of 50/50 on the net revenue from those earnings. The vast majority of Twitch streamers have these terms in their agreement. However, for some time we did offer standard agreements with premium subscription terms to select streamers as they grew larger,” Twitch President Dan Clancy said in a statement published on Twitch’s blog.

Twitch stated that it had already done a lot for streamers’ wallets by adding revenue-generating features such as the Hype Train, Ads Incentive Program, and subscription gifting. Clancy also cited high operating costs as part of the reason for the change.

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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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