How the top-earning streamers make their money
Game streaming might be a great entertainment source, but for most content creators it’s more than that. While some players broadcast their gaming activities for fun or to educate other gamers, a majority tries to make money off their content. The monetisation of live videos is not new – since Twitch launched, users have been searching for ways to generate revenue from streams. As the largest streaming service, Twitch remains the best place to get more out of gaming content. The platform has grown into a massive revenue earner, with top streamers raking in millions.
Some Twitch streamers are achieving celebrity status due to the popularity they gain from their antics. The more recognised a content creator is, the better the money-making opportunities. A look at the leading streamers on Twitch is proof that the industry is profitable: the best-paid players earn seven figures. It’s how some of them afford to bet big on their favourite games. One might wonder, how do they do it? How can a player be worth $2 million or more solely for broadcasting on Twitch? Here’s a look.
The easiest way for a streamer to get an income is through subscriptions. Followers are great for a channel’s growth and reputation, but subscribers are the real target. Twitch has a paid subscription service. Subscribers enjoy exclusive chat features, among other perks, while content creators get a fraction of the fees. A streamer has to be a Twitch Partner to participate in the scheme. Partners get half of the subscription. So, the more subscribers they have, the higher the earnings.
This is why streamers work hard to convert followers into subscribers. Streamers pull in decent numbers, although they are considerably lower than gamers. SteveWillSendIt boasts a following of 750,000. If even 50,000 of these paid for subscriptions, the streamer would bring in a good amount every month. Content creators sometimes produce personalised broadcasts for subscribers to encourage more to join. Specifically, they aim for prime subscriptions. Twitch Prime charges $5 a month, meaning the player gets $2.50 for every subscription. Top streamers also receive an extra $1.00.
Donations and tips
As live streaming became more popular over time, users found different ways to get money for their content. One of them is donations. If viewers like the material a content creator puts out, they can donate whatever amount they want, which is one of the ways streamers earn an income. Not every content creator earns from subscriptions. Hence, donations are practical options to supplement their earnings. Twitch and other streaming platforms provide a donation system for users, some with integrated services that enable content creators to receive tips or donations. Services like Patreon allow viewers to contribute regular amounts. Streamers prefer third-party programs for tipping because it makes it easier to move across broadcasting platforms.
Twitch also uses bits, its proprietary virtual currency. Viewers can use bits to cheer a content creator through a unique message and emote. For each bit used, the streamer receives one cent. Followers and subscribers can reward a content creator with hundreds, even thousands of bits. Streamers show their appreciation to viewers with special treatment such as shout-outs, behind-the-scenes videos and exclusive chats.
Ads are the oldest form of monetisation in live streaming. Almost every platform, from Twitch to Facebook to YouTube, has advertising programs. However, the methods used vary. Twitch runs ads before streams and pays a small part of the revenue to the streamer. Ad programs usually pay according to the views, so the more views a content creator has, the more they make. The creator’s status also influences income – a popular player with several hundred thousand followers has more bargaining power than a beginner. It’s why the biggest earners are also some of the oldest on the streaming platform. Twitch also supports native and in-stream ads. Streamers can make deals with other stakeholders, like game manufacturers. Depending on their popularity, steamers can work with any brand that requires exposure.
The big bucks in game broadcasting are in sponsorships. Most of the streamers enjoying comfortable revenue have a deal or two. With live streaming gaining prominence by the day, it has provided brands with unique marketing opportunities. Reputable operators partner with streamers to sell their brands. For example, a game supplier can sponsor a content creator to play its titles for a certain duration; the player then talks about the game and its features while playing live, effectively selling it to the audience. As more people learn about the game, it boosts sales for the developer.
Sponsorships are the most common. Top-rated streamers collaborate with operators in exchange for money. A gamer might agree to only play with a particular piece of equipment during live streams. Even if the broadcaster doesn’t include links, simply mentioning it in live video is exposure. Another strategy is to have the sponsor’s logo all over the broadcast. Sponsorship deals sometimes include an operator bankrolling a streamer’s session. Although profitable, sponsorships are limited and are only available to popular content creators with larges viewerships.
When done right, streaming brings in sizeable revenues for content creators. News of streamers enjoying the celebrity lifestyle is common, with the community becoming some of the best-paid content creators. A look at the top broadcasters on Twitch and their net worth gives an idea of how lucrative the sector is. Ads, donations, tips, subscriptions and sponsorships are the chief revenue earners for streamers.
The editorial unit