So I wrote a thread (https://twitter.com/cbsa82/status/1047196476047278080) about this yesterday mostly because my Wife had got me thinking about this and a few folks suggested I go a little more in depth about Twitch and how it functions from the perspective of a Creator / Streamer. I want to be clear that this post is going to use estimations for a lot of the numbers, because once a Streamer reaches Partner status their cut of any profits is a contractual rate plus a lot of the amounts are hidden and variable even to the streamer.

Real quick before we get going I want to make sure you are aware that Twitch does NOT provide Subscription Numbers nor exact Bit Amounts to anyone BUT the Streamer.  The only thing public is the number of Followers a streamer has, which is NOT the same as a Subscriber.  Anyone can follow you, but Subscribers are very different.  So unless a Streamer directly mentions how many subs they have, you can only guesstimate.  There are sites that claim they can give you that info but its estimations based on data trends.  The only person to have hard data will be the streamer themselves.

First, let’s talk about what kind of Twitch Streamers there are. If you were not aware, there are 3 “types” of Twitch Streamer account levels.  First you have your basic one, then Affiliate, and then Partner.

Everyone starts at the basic level. At this level, you cannot make any income from Twitch directly. You cannot have people subscribe or provide you bits (more on these in a second) and you cannot have any subscriber badges nor custom emotes.

To reach the next status, Affiliate (where I am), you have to do the following within a 30 day ROLLING period:

– Stream on 7 unique days

– Stream a total of 8 hours

– Reach 3 average concurrent viewers across the streams

– Have 50 followers

Most people who are serious about streaming will get here eventually, it just takes time.  Once you get here, you gain the ability to have Bits (which are a form of Twitch tipping, 1 bit = 1 cent), as well as Subscribers to your stream.  You also can get 3 Custom Emotes (1 for each Subscription Tier) and subscriber badges.  Once you get Affiliate, as long as you are at least streaming regularly, you will keep it.

Now, let’s take a moment and talk about Subscriptions on Twitch.  There are 3 types: $4.99, $9.99, and $24.99.  There is also Twitch Prime Subs, which people who have Amazon Prime get access to.  A twitch prime sub is treated as a $4.99 level sub but must be manually renewed every month.  When you subscribe to a Twitch stream, both the Streamer AND Twitch get a cut of the subscription fee.  Bits however are directly to the Streamer (as you can only buy Bits from Twitch, so they already got paid).

As far as the amount of money a Streamer gets vs Twitch, it sadly depends. Twitch accounts for taxes, processing fees, and so on top of their own cut.  Its prolly safe to estimate that an Affiliate level streamer will get something around 40% of the subscription cost.  This means, roughly, that a Tier 1 sub is giving the streamer $1.99 for example (round up to $2 just to make the math easy)

Next you have the Partner status, the most coveted level of Streamer.  To reach this, the following must be met within a rolling 30 day period and THEN you have to apply and be accepted (unlike Affiliate, which is automatically offered)

– Stream 12 unique days

– Stream at least 25 hours

– Have 500 followers

– Reach 75 average concurrent viewers across the streams

This is a MUCH harder level to reach.  And Twitch will NOT tell you what level a streamer is, exactly.  You cannot view a Streamer profile to determine if someone is Basic, Affiliate, or Partner.  But there is a way to check.  A partner gets the same stuff the Affiliate gets (Bits, Subs) but they also get A LOT MORE EMOTES!  If you check a streamers custom emotes in Chat and see only 3 (1 for each tier) they are Affiliate.  If you see like 20+ for Tier one?  They are a Partner.  The rates as well for a Partner vary based on Partner Contract, so its prolly safe to estimate at least 50% of their Sub earnings go to them.  I BELIEVE (unsure about this) that Partners, but not Affiliates, also get Ad Revenue for the people watching as well (Ads are shown on twitch to non-prime and non-turbo users)

Now let’s get some real math into this.  We will use myself, as I am an Affiliate, as the baseline here.  Let’s say I have 5 Tier 1 subs.  We assume each one gives me 40%, which is roughly $2.  That’s $10 a month to me.  Over the course of a year, that’s $120.  I know, it doesn’t seem like a lot, but its still money earned by playing video games.

Let’s now look at a Partner I am aware of, Cohh Carnage (http://twitter.com/cohhcarnage).  He is a personal favorite Streamer of mine (and you should check him out at twitch.tv/cohhcarnage) and streams EVERY DAY.  I believe at last count he has over 1000000 FOLLOWERS (not subs) and the last time he mentioned a Sub Number it was roughly 20k.  Yes, he has something like 20,000 subscribers to his twitch. So if we assume 50% contracted rate for Sub Fees, he is making roughly $45,000 a MONTH off his stream.  Mind you that’s assuming there are no $10 subs, or $25 subs.  And I know for a fact some are, because I myself am a $10 subscriber.

Yes, you can really make that much money on Twitch.  Just imagine what Ninja, the BIGGEST streamer out there period is pulling in with his 5 million followers (and supposed 60k subs with his record being 250k subs at one point).  Bear in mind however that any subscriber can drop off and Amazon Primes have to be manually resubbed so amounts can vary greatly month to month.

Now, Cohh worked hard to earn that, streaming literally daily, usually for 6-8 hours, with almost no breaks.  Further, he has been at it for 5+ years.  And frankly, it’s rare for that to occur.  More than likely a person who makes Partner might hit the level of someone who has like 1k to 2k subs, and thus make something like $2500 to $5000 a month, which is STILL a living (and more then I make working a 40 hour a week job).  I am unsure if an Affiliate would make this level but it IS possible!

Now mind you this is JUST subscription numbers!  Most streamers, myself included, get Bits and outside Tips as well.  Bits are 1 penny per bit, so 100 bits is $1.  All these combined, the Subs, the Bits, and the Tips, are how a Twitch Streamer makes a living.  Nevermind the possible Patreon subscriptions that some streamers (again like myself) have.  Multiple revenue streams is always a good idea by the way creatives.  The more ways a fan can support you the better.

However, bear in mind the following.  Streamers tend to do everything themselves and streaming is a lot more work than just “hitting a button and playing games/making things”.  Streamers spend time and money getting Emotes created, setting up their PCs and Consoles to connect to Twitch and play the newest games/handle the latest software, maintaining a high speed internet connection to handle streams (5mbps UPLOAD is a MINIMUM), plus creating overlays, animations, and streamer sounds as well.  Cohh has for example a support team called Tech Team 6 AND his own commissioned artist for Emotes (which he replaces regularly based on the game he is playing).

Then there is the combination of playing a game AND engaging with your audience. You have to be able to both focus on the game or thing you are doing (Creative streams with Art / Music exist too) and ALSO engage with your viewers.  Further, you have to be both entertaining AND informative.  I am still not sure I am at this level but I am personally trying.

It’s quite the combination of things that a Streamer has to focus on.  Also keep in mind that professional streamers (those who make a living off it like Cohh) frequently are their own accountants and tech support, or they have the expense of PAYING for those services.  Plus they have to make sure they can pay their rent/mortgage, cover health insurance on their own, save money, ect.  Oh and paying taxes.  The government will get their money one way or another.  It’s just like a regular job, only they have no HR team to help support them and take care of all the fiddly bits.  You have to be your own boss in the realest sense of the phrase.  Oh and marketing.  You gotta be your own marketing firm.

Not everyone can or will make a living off streaming, just like any other creative endeavor.  Not everyone will succeed.  But that does not mean you shouldn’t give it a shot.  Affiliate is a good place to be for a lot of us casual folks, and can be a decent side income.  For me, my goal is to play the games I aim to review for my Youtube / Website so people can see why I might rate a game the way I do.

I hope this demystifies how Twitch functions on the content creator side.  Be aware, you can make a difference in a Streamers life with your money and your time.  Even just being a viewer, silent but watching, helps a great deal (Lurkers are love man).  Sharing the streams, talking about why you love the streamer, and getting the word out is just as important as hitting that Subscription button or giving them bits.  A streamer needs fans to grow as word of mouth is super important.  Hell, one streamer I like to watch, named David Bloop (http://twitter.com/davidthebloop), I found because of a fan of mine named Cranium Squirrel (http://twitter.com/craniumsquirrel) talking him up on Twitter!  Word of mouth WORKS and its one of the many ways you can support your favorite creators.  No I will not stop harping on this.  Yes you should be doing this.

Thanks for reading, and I hope you have a great day and that you learned something.  Get those Crits, Take those Hits, keep pushing through always and remember to Stay Nerdy!

The Mathematics & Reality of Twitch
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