The Twitch creator community is in an uproar after leadership behind the Amazon-owned livestreaming platform introduced — and then retracted — new guidelines for how content creators can display ads and monetize their streams.
Twitch announced new guidelines for branded video content on Tuesday. The tool that allows users to report such content will be available starting July 1. The new guidelines would restrict creators’ ability to advertise on stream, including no longer allowing creators to insert “burned in” video ads (ads that creators directly place in a stream via a streaming and production app). The proposed guidelines also included other changes, like a size limitation for on-stream brand logos so that they couldn’t take up more than 3% of the screen size.
Twitch appeared backpedaling hours after the new guidelines were announced, when top creators, such as Asmongold (who has more than 3.4 millions followers on Twitch), openly spoke about their intention to leave. thousands more spoke out on social mediaTo criticize changes is to be critical.
Twitch issued a statement on Twitter, calling the branded content policy “overly broad” and apologizing for any confusion. The company announced that it will rewrite its guidelines in order to make them clearer.
“We do not intend to limit streamers’ ability to enter into direct relationships with sponsors, and we understand that this is an important part of how streamers earn revenue,” read one tweet in Twitch’s thread. “We wanted to clarify our existing ads policy that was intended to prohibit third party ad networks from selling burned in video and display ads on Twitch, which is consistent with other services.”
Today’s branded content policy update was overly broad. We apologize that this created confusion.
— Twitch (@Twitch) June 6, 2023
There are many reasons why streamers object to the new policy on branded content. If implemented, these changes have the potential to shake the foundation of Twitch’s creator economy. Sponsorship opportunities and advertising on-stream make it possible for many streamers to create full-time, high-quality content. These opportunities could be threatened by the new changes. Smashley, who will soon celebrate eight years as a Twitch Partner and is a streamer, explained the impact of these changes.
“Placing these arbitrary restrictions on broadcasters will create tension between sponsors and what can only be assumed is either a reduced rate or less sponsorships altogether,” she told Polygon via Twitter. “More than our own voice, it restricts our sponsors’ voices, even the ones we want to promote. I will have to change my entire branding.”
The new rules would make it more difficult for content that is heavily sponsored, such as charity streams or award shows. Smashley mentioned that under these new guidelines, her recent charity stream with St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital would not have been possible. The creator of The Streamer Awards is QTCinderella. tweeted that she didn’t know if the award show would be able to “exist” within the new rules either.
A number of top creators have also taken to Twitter and their live streams to express criticism about the proposed changes. Asmongold and Mizkif of OTK Network have both threatened to abandon Twitch should the new rules be implemented. In an interview with Polygon, OTK Network co-founder Tips Out said OTK Network would make the decision to leave because policy changes like the new guidelines “impact creators on a deeper level than most realize.”
“Ultimately, we want to work together with the platforms that were originally built to amplify the work that we do, and ensure that everyone is able to build a business in a way that best supports their goals and creates long-term success,” he said via email.
Asmongold, who has been a Twitch user for a number of years, announced on Tuesday that he is considering leaving Twitch to pursue non-exclusive opportunities from other platforms. pic.twitter.com/NYlMJCYxRt
— Hunter (@HUN2R) June 6, 2023
Mizkif has more than 2 million Twitch followers. He said the organization will move from Twitch to YouTube, Rumble or Kick, if these changes are implemented.
If this continues to harm the bottom lines of streamers, then all should look to leave Twitch.
OTK is going to Youtube Rumble or Kick
The Streamer Award will no longer be available
Any high quality production will be too expensive to make and will not be…
— Mizkif (@REALMizkif) June 6, 2023
Polygon also asked Tips Out to explain the current status of their relationship with Twitch. He told Polygon that the group’s primary aim is to advocate for other creators.
“OTK maintains a strong connection with various platform partners, like Twitch, YouTube, and Twitter. We’ve always prioritized maintaining an open dialogue with these partners, including Twitch and its management,” he said. “We actively engage in providing feedback and suggestions to these platforms, aiming to enhance their performance from the creator’s standpoint.”
Polygon contacted Twitch and was given the following response from the company’s representative:
A thread has been issued thread on Twitter with our official statement— clarifying that streamers can still pursue these ad formats as a part of their own direct sponsorships with brands but our policy prohibits third party ad networks from selling burned in video and display ads on Twitch.
As mentioned, we’re updating the policy language to be clearer, and will share with our community, once available.
Polygon asked whether the company planned to change any of its major guidelines or, if they were misinterpreted, if this rule would be rewritten to make it more explicit. Polygon also asked whether other policies like the rule of 3% logo sizes would be unchanged. The representative declined to answer the second question and told Polygon, “We’re rewriting the policy to be clearer to avoid misinterpretation/confusion.”
The dispute illustrates the push-pull relationship between Twitch creators and Twitch. The platform had record viewership during the pandemic, but since then has been plagued by controversy after controversy. Creators in 2021 planned to boycott the platform due to its frequent hate crimes. In recent years, there have been issues with the platform due to a new revenue split policy and its gambling policies.
In the end, events like these test creators like Smashley’s relationship with the platform.
“I’m honestly disheartened. I’ve been broadcasting on this platform for 8 years and it feels like every few months, Twitch tries to find another way to make it harder to be on or stay on the platform and make a living,” she said. “They haven’t developed anything for creators in years that wasn’t already available.”
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