New study indicates US Twitch Partners collectively earned $87 million in 2017

TL;DR - The study, put together by Re:Create, looked at Twitch Partners’ earnings from 2016 to 2017.  While collective earnings by this group in 2016 were a healthy $67 million, 2017 saw that jump to over $87 million - an increase of about 30%.  Digging deeper, the study indicates 8% of these streamers earned from $1 - 500, while the upper 22% cleared $10k. The middle segment was by far the largest, but it also included the greatest range of earnings.  70% brought in anywhere from $501 - $10k. With such a huge range of earnings it’s difficult to draw any substantial conclusions.

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Twitch signs first-of-its-kind sponsorship management deal with Team Liquid

TL;DR - Twitch and esports org Team Liquid have signed a new deal that hands the team’s sponsorship keys to the streaming platform.  In this new arrangement, Twitch can approach brands on behalf of Team Liquid and execute deals for their content. It’s the first time the platform has taken such a hands-on approach to monetizing another organization’s content, and could have big implications for Twitch Partners down the road.

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Ninja loses top spot on Twitch after shedding over 150k subs since last year

TL;DR - Since his peak in 2018, Ninja has dropped from over 200k subs to closer to 30k today.  This puts him behind his contemporaries like Shroud, Tfue, and Summit1G. We’ve seen in the past there is strong correlation between hours streamed and sub count for streamers at this level.  Relative to others, Ninja has streamed considerably fewer hours in recent weeks. 30,000 subscribers is still an incredible number, and Ninja is branching out into other endeavors including a toy line set to launch this Fall.  So while his sub count may be down, he’s been busy diversifying his brand during that time.

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Epic ponies up another $100 million for Fortnite esports in 2019

TL;DR - Following up on the $100 million Epic poured into the Fortnite esports ecosystem last year, 2019 will see another $100 million for its competitive scene.  The difference being that this year a big chunk will be awarded during the first ever Fortnite World Cup. All 200 qualifying players will walk with at least $50,000 while the winner will bring home a healthy $3 million.  A total of $30 million in prizes will be awarded during the event, slated for July 26-28 in New York. One hundred of the top players in the world will be invited, as well as the top fifty duo teams. Invitations will go out to those who “consistently place well” in the $1 million weekly qualifiers from April 13 - June 16.

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Twitch expands access to emote slots for Partners and Affiliates

TL;DR - Over the course of the next four months, Twitch is rolling out expanded emote slot access for Affiliates.  They’ll be able to unlock up to five Tier 1 emotes, with one additional emote unlocked for Tier 2 and Tier 3 - bringing the total to seven.  Obtaining these new slots can be done by acquiring progressively more subscriber points. Partners with 0-64 subscriber points will now have access to six emotes, up from two previously.  Beyond 65 sub points the limits are being left as is.

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YouTube has begun demonetizing videos over “inappropriate” comments

TL;DR - In what could be a huge blow against the gaming community, YouTube is now demonetizing videos over their comments.  In a tweet from the video platform, it stated that even if the video itself is suitable for advertisers, “inappropriate” comments could result in its algorithm demonetizing the video.  This is part of the company’s latest effort to address content that could be viewed as harmful to minors, which has cost YouTube several of its top tier advertisers of late. It’s unclear what constitutes “inappropriate”, but this can clearly be used maliciously against content creators if YouTube isn’t extremely cautious about the implementation.

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TwitchCon returns to San Diego this year

TL;DR - Twitch has announced the dates and location for this year’s North American TwitchCon.  The event has been bumped up a month to September 27-29 and will be held again at the San Diego Convention Center.  Twitch last held TwitchCon in San Diego in 2016, the first year the event was fully open to the public. Tickets are not on sale yet, but that hasn’t stopped streamers and viewers alike from buying their plane tickets and booking their hotel rooms.  See you there!

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StreamElements closes $11.3 million Series A raise

TL;DR - The funding round was led by Pitango VC and included previous investors like Samsung Next and Rainfall VC.  StreamElements has reported user growth of over 600%, with more than 200k users across Twitch and YouTube. The live-streaming production platform is expecting creator revenue in 2019 to go beyond $40 million, and has projected it will secure the top spot in its space by year end.  The company intends to put the funding to work expanding its brand partnership efforts, coming off a year of successful deals with the likes of RedBull, Warner Bros., and others.

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Epic Games joins others in pumping brakes on YouTube ads over pedophile concerns

TL;DR - Epic Games is the latest major advertiser on YouTube to pause their pre-roll ads over information surfacing that videos on the platform may be under attack by a pedophile network.  Epic joins the likes of Disney and Nestle, awaiting YouTube to remedy activity in the comments section of videos containing children. This is directly related to the story above concerning demonetization due to comments - which appears to be how these unsavory folks are operating.

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Riot’s LEC rebrand strategy is paying viewership dividends

TL;DR - LEC, the former EU LCS for League of Legends, rebranded just prior to this latest season to more closely follow the format of the hugely successful NA LCS.  The mid-split viewership numbers are in and if they’re any measure, the rebrand is a hit. In the past, the EU LCS had a concurrent peak of roughly 300k. Post-rebrand that number has surged to 1.5M and it’s consistent.  The big driver has been the introduction of Watch Rewards, for which the EU region has been the strongest adopter.

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Hearthstone esports restructured - will include crowdfunding

TL;DR - Blizzard has officially outlined the revamped structure for 2019’s competitive Hearthstone season.  The new system will feature three progressively competitive tiers: Masters Qualifiers, Masters Tour, and Hearthstone Grandmasters.  Players will compete in officially sanctioned events throughout the year facilitated by Battlefy. The collective prize pool is over $4M, which can grow based on the new crowdfunding endeavor.  Blizzard wasn’t forthcoming about how the in-game purchases would affect the prize pool, however.

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In case you missed it…

The decision process for purchasing new games has undoubtedly changed since live-streaming took off.  Listening to the people we know and trust recommend games has been a cornerstone of the gaming community’s purchasing process as far back as any of us can remember.  However, today, many have grown close to the communities of streamers and YouTubers and the opinions found within those communities can be hugely influential as well.

This recent article over at GameRevolution tackles the topic from its perspective as a publication that invests time and hours into providing reliable reviews for its viewers.  Understandably, they’ve taken issue with the recent push towards streamer and influencer led reviews of new titles. Most notably, how it’s often in the streamer’s best interest to ensure his or her audience continues to enjoy the game(s) being streamed since that’s how he or she makes money.

While I believe there’s room for everyone when it comes to recommendations (after all, we’ve all got opinions), there’s definitely merit to GameRevolution’s argument.  We’ve seen in the past how easily a streamer can get pigeonholed into a single title and the effect that can have on the quality of the content. Many, many streamers are able to pull it off and play the same game or couple of games for years on end.  But, more often than not, they have to make that hard call at some point and switch it up. Whether that decision is driven by their desire to preserve their mental health, or whether it’s more predicated on streaming being their career, business is business.

On the other hand, I don’t think GameRevolution gives the audience enough credit, either.  Some people will undoubtedly buy a game based solely on the recommendation of a streamer or an influencer.  But the same can be said for trusted review sites - like their own. Personally speaking, nothing beats the old school system of getting demo disks in the mail every month and trying out the game for yourself first.  It was VERY hard to fake a good game with that method.

In any event, the article presents an interesting case for diversifying your sources when it comes to getting the inside on the latest titles.  That’s a message we can get behind 100%.

Until next week!