Twitch’s chief product officer Tom Verrilli and chief monetization officer Mike Minton have addressed the controversial 50/50 sub split on the platform and how they plan to make Twitch the best place for streamers despite rivals offering much higher splits.
It’s been a turbulent start to the year in the livestreaming space, with new platform Kick gaining some momentum, but also mired in controversy over its connection to gambling site Stake and the enforcement of community guidelines.
Part of Kick’s appeal for streamers is the 95/5 sub split, with Twitch’s 50/50 split paling in comparison. However, Twitch remains steadfast in this approach, and two officers from the Amazon-owned platform have given clarity on why.
Twitch doubles down on 50/50 split
Speaking to The Verge, Minton acknowledged the negative feedback from streamers about the 50/50 split. “There certainly was loud conversations within the community in terms of their feedback and reception.
“We talked a lot about how we’re in this together, and part of that is innovation,” Minton continued. “We are committed to continuing to improve our monetization products and building new monetization products, and at the end of the day, we are committed to increasing the amount of money a streamer earns.”
Rather than simply opting for a higher sub split, such as YouTube’s 70/30 split, Twitch is apparently focused on making Twitch overall a more lucrative place to stream through product innovations and sponsorships for streamers.
One example pointed to by Minton was the ad incentive program. This provides streamers with a pre-agreed payment provided they stream a certain number of hours and run a specific amount of ads.
“The acceptance and engagement on the ad incentive program far exceeded our expectations. So streamers are clearly seeing the value in running ads now.”
“We want to make it easier for creators to take their amazing Twitch content and distribute it,” Virelli said. “But we also need to take more responsibility for delivering viewers straight to streamers while they are on Twitch.”
Virelli references a currently in-development feature called “Guest Star.” It’s not exactly clear what this feature is (The Verge describes it as “an integrated tool that allows streamers to easily feature other creators or their audience in a livestream”), but Virelli said he thinks it is the “next evolution” of Twitch chat.
The flat-out refusal to increase subscription splits has already incentivized some streamers to move on to pastures new, but if Twitch can in fact make the platform the most lucrative place to stream through these other methods, it may yet retain its livestreaming crown.
Kick: A Rising Competitor for Twitch
Kick has made waves recently by getting big streamers like Adin Ross and Hikaru Nakamura to sign on, and it’s setting itself up as a rival to Twitch. Backed by Tyler ‘Trainwreck’ Niknam, it markets itself as a creator-friendly site with plenty of favorable policies. But is it too good to be true?
The streaming space has oversaturated itself and then consolidated more times than you can poke a stick at in the last few years. From the rise and fall of Mixer, to the streaming wars between YouTube, Facebook, and Twitch, streamers have been shifting around plenty.
A number of niche sites have also cropped up like Trovo and DLive to try and take some of the market share. But Kick seems to have had the most staying power so far, and it has some star power backing it up.
Kick markets itself as a creator-friendly platform with favorable policies that’d attract even the smallest streamer to give it a try. It’s still in beta, but many have expressed their interest in giving it a whirl – so here’s what you need to know about Twitch’s newest rival, and whether it’s too good to be true.
Who owns Kick.com?
The ownership of Kick is currently unconfirmed, but signs point to crypto gambling site Stake.com backing the project.
Job listings posted by Australia-based start-up Easygo state that “Kick.com is a new venture created by the founders of Easygo and Stake.com.” Stake accounts also created and previously moderated the Kick subreddit.
As of writing, Stake has not confirmed any ownership of the platform, but was a major sponsor of Trainwreck on Twitch before Stake was banned on the platform.
What makes Kick so attractive as a Twitch competitor?
Kick kicked into gear once Tyler ‘Trainwreck’ Niknam announced his move to Kick to his 2.1 million Twitch followers.
Niknam had the sales pitch of the century that would appeal to any streamer – regardless of platform.
Kick is promising a 95-5 subscriber revenue split, which blows Twitch’s 50-50 and YouTube’s 70-30 policies out of the water. This is on top of a 100% split on Kicks, the platform’s regular donation service. Creators can get same day payouts, not having to wait for a monthly cheque.
Those are some big numbers, but the platform is confident it can sustain it with advertisers footing the bill:
“Kick will partner with the world’s leading advertisers to generate cash flow,” Trainwreck said. “I believe that creating the best incentives for creators will lead the best creators to Kick, and the best creators will bring the best advertisers.”
You’ll get a steady income based on hours watched and total viewers you stream to with an option to be paid out on the same day.”
The platform’s Terms of Service have also been designed with clarity in mind, Niknam claimed, with “no ambiguous bans”. There are also specific rules around “ethical gambling”, allowing the vilified practice to continue on Kick. Previously DLive was considered the gambling streamer alternative to Twitch with its laissez-faire policies, but Kick promises some sort of moderation.
Will Kick survive in the streaming wars?
Kick will live or die by its talent, and it needs to continue acquiring big names to stay relevant. With Trainwreck joining early, and Adin Ross signing on as well, Kick seems to be maintaining momentum. It’s also signed contracts with Destiny, a veteran streamer who was banned from Twitch for Terms of Service violations, and Hikaru Nakamura, the biggest Chess streamer on Twitch.
Kick is promising the world to creators, but previous promises have ended in flames. Mixer was known for its eight-figure deals handed to top talents like Tyler ‘Ninja’ Blevins and Michael ‘shroud’ Grzesiek, but imploded in just a couple of years.
Trainwreck has asked creators and fans to give Kick a year to grow and properly implement its policies. If everything can be checked off, it’s a no-brainer for all creators to move there: it has all the positives and nearly none of the negatives of other sites.
However, it has a long way to go to compete with mega platforms. Twitch has the backing of Amazon, YouTube has Google, and Facebook has Meta. Those are some of the biggest tech companies in the world, and Kick is just a startup with a few big creators vouching.
Kick’s vision is lofty, especially to support those “small and mid-sized creators who are the foundation and backbone of all live streaming platforms”, as Trainwreck put it.
It’s trying to integrate and wean people off of other sites, rather than coming in and disrupting the space.
That is a generous reading of the situation though. Kick has already had itself embroiled in controversy — whether it be hiding its true owners, embedding Twitch streams for promotional purposes, or other shady business practices. There is more than what meets the eye here.
Needless to say the battle for livestreaming dominance between Twitch and Kick is heating up. While Twitch is focusing on innovation and improving the overall platform to increase streamer revenue, Kick is attempting to attract creators with a more favorable revenue split and policies. It remains to be seen which platform will ultimately prevail, but the competition will likely benefit streamers and viewers alike as both companies strive to improve their offerings.