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Twitch creators are not having it. On June 6, 2023, Twitch updated its policy on advertisements, evoking heavy criticism from the platform’s creators. In response to Twitch’s advertising update, creators of all audience sizes threatened to switch to competitors like Kick. Soon after the intense backlash, Twitch announced a branded content guidelines rollback.
What Were the Twitch Branded Content Guidelines
Twitch defines branded content as when streamers feature goods or services in exchange for money or goods or services. Twitch lists these situations as examples of branded content:
- Sponsored gameplay
- Channel sponsorships
- Product placements
- Paid product unboxings
- Branded channel panels
- Brand logo stream overlays
Creators promoting branded content would have to use Twitch’s brand disclosure tool and avoid prohibited content such as hateful products and services, scams, tobacco, etc.
The main reason for the heated backlash and the subsequent Twitch branded content guidelines rollback involves the platform’s new permitted and prohibited brand content formats section. As per the new rules, only Twitch had the right to place and sell advertisements on the platform, thus banning or limiting a streamer’s choice to advertise on the platform.
More specifically, “burned-in” ads (inserted ads in video, audio, or display) are prohibited. On-stream brand overlays are permitted only if they are less than three percent of the screen size. Streamers frequently utilize these advertisements to supplement their income and generate revenue.
Why Did Twitch Make New Branded Content Guidelines
Some theorize that Twitch wanted to play middleman between streamers and their sponsors, gaining more access to brands and a cut of the deal. Popular streamer Asmongold took to Twitter to propose boycotting Twitter. He tweets: “Making common and harmless forms of advertisement literally against ToS so Twitch can monopolize more of streamers income.” However, this change isn’t necessarily new to Twitch or social media.
I don’t say it lightly but I think this is a legitimate situation where streamers should consider boycotting Twitch or moving to other platforms
Making common and harmless forms of advertisement literally against ToS so Twitch can monopolize more of streamers income https://t.co/LgofvJKnWo
— Zack (@Asmongold) June 6, 2023
According to TechCrunch, the Amazon-owned platform has been modifying its policies to “standardize” the platform and make it “more viable.” Last year, Twitch returned to its original 70-30 revenue share model, which allowed top streamers to keep most of their subscription revenue, to a 50-50 revenue share model. Only top creators who had the 70-30 premium deal will only reap 70% off of the first $100,000 in subscriptions and 50% of the rest, striking concerns for smaller streamers.
Why Did Creators React So Negatively?
1. Loss of Income Impacts Many
Even Mr. Beast had to step in to vehemently voice his disapproval despite not being a Twitch streamer. Replying to Jake Lucky’s tweet about seeing Twitch creators angry at the new guidelines, the top YouTuber replied, “They should be, people struggling to get by just had their income cut for literally no reason. I love how as Twitch gets more competition, they just double down on doing dumb things.”
Hey @Twitch how about instead of handicapping what creators make, you help them make more? Seems more logical.
— MrBeast (@MrBeast) June 6, 2023
Popular streaming group OTK Network has also indicated they will leave the platform because of the new Twitch branded content guidelines. In their open letter to the company, their threat to boycott the platform has less to do with the brand guidelines but with years of Twitch enacting “anti-creator” policies. They also wrote, “And unlike in the past, these changes come at a time when the live streaming landscape has never been more competitive.”
A message to Twitch. pic.twitter.com/uQl2eEbG6h
— OTK (@OTKnetwork) June 6, 2023
Twitch’s actions have also drawn comparisons to YouTube, which offers more favorable monetization options for creators. Creators such as Ludwig, Dr. DisRespect, Sykkuno, etc, had already left the platform for YouTube amid Twitch’s controversies.
2. With more substitutes available, creators are done with anti-creator policies
Over the years, content creation has not only become more profitable but also more accessible. Creators stand to gain greater leverage when it comes to monetization, but the social media market has also become more saturated, both on the creator and platform side. As it is now, social media platforms greatly benefit from the content on its platform with advertising money. However, in the era of the Creator Economy, creators are looking for proper compensation for their talents.
Many social media platforms have adopted revenue-sharing programs or allocated funds for their users to keep their talent. But even Twitch’s branded content rollback could not convince the jaded skeptics. Some creators like Imane believe it’s best to decrease their reliance on the traditional middleman (social media platforms) for income.
i feel like because content creation is becoming so saturated + we often have trouble relying on the platforms we use, the future is direct to consumer paid content (patreon, onlypans, consumer goods, etc).
cut out the middle man + get proper compensation for what you make/do!
— imane 💜 (@imane) June 7, 2023
Maximizing revenue and cutting out the middleman is partially why certain creators and celebrities have looked toward other ventures like entrepreneurship or crypto. Because of the public outcry, Twitch’s branded content guidelines rollback swiftly came out in a hasty effort to keep creators on the platform.
3. Lack of communication and transparency
In addition to these anti-creator policies, streamers are upset by Twitch’s poor communication. The changes Twitch streamers genuinely want are brushed under the table, causing more controversies amongst the platform.
Twitch’s Branded Content Guidelines Rollback
A day later, on June 7, 2023, Twitch released an apology statement on Twitter: “Yesterday, we released new Branded Content Guidelines that impacted your ability to work with sponsors to increase your income from streaming. These guidelines are bad for you and Twitch, and we are removing them immediately.” Twitch later removed the brand formatting section from their content guidelines page.
Yesterday, we released new Branded Content Guidelines that impacted your ability to work with sponsors to increase your income from streaming. These guidelines are bad for you and bad for Twitch, and we are removing them immediately.
— Twitch (@Twitch) June 7, 2023
However, are the Twitch branded content guidelines rollback enough? Only time will tell, and all eyes are on Twitch’s next move. Twitch’s policies over the years have caused a rift between the platform and its top creators, and competing platforms are ready to swoop in. Before Twitch’s branded content guidelines rollback, Kick was extremely active on Twitter, simultaneously lambasting Twitch’s policies while promoting its creator-friendly environment.
Twitch’s attempt to ban certain branded content formats ultimately damaged its reputation and its creators’ trust. Even though it only took a day for Twitch’s branded content guidelines rollback to be issued, in light of other grievances with the platform and competitors, some believe that a day is still far too long.