Twitch officially launches subscriber-only streaming

TL;DR - Affiliates and Partners on Twitch can now broadcast exclusively to their subscribers, moderators, and VIPs.  Anyone not subbed that attempts to join one of these broadcasts will enjoy a brief preview of the stream before being asked to subscribe to continue viewing.  To be eligible, streamers need to be in good standing with Twitch. This means no violations within the past 90 days. The feature is still technically in beta, with a broader rollout planned but no firm dates announced.

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Microsoft hands pink slips to original Mixer developers

TL;DR - Two years after Microsoft acquired Beam, which it later rebranded to Mixer, it has laid off several of the company’s original developers.  While Microsoft hasn’t commented on the layoffs as of us writing this, one of the affected staffers said there’s nothing more to know, and everything is good at Mixer.  The platform continues to push original content, and has scored some decently sized streamers from the likes of Twitch in recent months.

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Redditor creates tool for capturing viewer / streamer interactions in Apex Legends

TL;DR - With this new tool, Apex Legends players can search for their name and, if the application detected an interaction with a “popular” streamer, clip and record said interaction from the original stream.  “I’m on Stream” works by viewing the broadcasts of larger streamers while tracking kills, assists, knocks, and just about everything else related to the game. It’s currently only available for English-speaking streamers of PUBG and Apex Legends, but the creator has mentioned plans to expand both of these based on demand.

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Twitch may be bringing back Bitcoin as payment method

TL;DR - It was just back in March that Twitch ceased the acceptance of crypto as a form of payment platform wide.  This week it’s being reported that Bitcoin and Bitcoin Cash are back, but no other forms of crypto have been mentioned.  Twitch hasn’t released an official statement, but we tried to subscribe to a channel and did in fact see Bitcoin as a payment option, but not Bitcoin Cash.

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Mixer mobile app updated with a slew of new features

TL;DR - The latest update to the Mixer app on Android and iOS brings three helpful enhancements for mobile viewers.  FTL video is now disabled by default, which should improve speed and connectivity across the board. Next, channel progression now works with mobile viewing so viewers can get credit for spending time and interacting in their favorite channels, regardless of the device they’re on.  And users can now block each other (fun!) without signing in to their accounts.

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Amazon announces big Prime Day plans for Twitch

TL;DR - Twitch announced this week it will be participating in a big way with parent company Amazon’s Prime Day, which will actually span two days this year from July 15 - 16.  Viewers can expect giveaways for Apex Legends, EA Sports titles, a live shopping show, and various live-streamed events. The headlining event will be “Twitch Sells Out”, which will feature Prime Day deals more relevant to the gaming community.  The show will run both days for twelve hours each and will include a parade of streamers showing off the featured products. Naturally, everything will be purchasable via the streams themselves thanks to Twitch’s integration with Amazon. Affiliates and Partners will be allowed to co-stream the show as well.

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Full suite of StreamElements tools coming to Facebook Gaming

TL;DR - StreamElements announced this week it’s completed an integration to bring its full suite of streaming tools to Facebook Gaming.  Some of the features Facebook Gaming streamers can now enjoy include: OBS.Live, KappaGen, HypeBoss, HypeCup, Media Request, and Stream Reports.  The article outlines briefly what each of these does for those interested. A slew of popular Facebook Gaming streamers will be highlighting these features during their streams over the coming weeks for anyone that would like to see them in action and better understand the functionality.

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Call of Duty League franchises nabbed by Immortals and WISE Ventures

TL;DR - The Minnesota franchise slots was secured by WISE Ventures, a Manhattan-based investment fund.  And on the west coast, The Los Angeles franchise slot was picked up by Immortals Gaming Club. This brings the current tally to seven franchises: Dallas, Atlanta, Paris, Toronto, and New York in addition to the newcomers.  Immortals also recently acquired OpTic Gaming - the biggest brand operating within the Call of Duty ecosystem.

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Dota 2 championship prize pool clears $25M, setting yet another record

TL;DR - Dota 2’s championship event, The International, reached and cleared the $25M mark for its total prize pool over the weekend.  This puts it only half a million shy of last year’s total, which was a record itself at the time. If the sum wasn’t impressive enough, last year it took 104 days to reach $25M whereas this year it hit the mark after only 53.  The Fortnite World Cup holds the current record at $30M, but with more content on the way from Valve and plenty more time to rack up sales, it’s indeed possible for TI9 to break that record as well.

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In case you missed it…

It was nearly one year ago that we learned Twitch CEO Emmett Shear had set an aggressive ad revenue goal of $1B for the company - more than double what it was taking in at the time.  Shortly thereafter Twitch dropped the bomb on the community that ad-free viewing, a cherished perk of Twitch Prime, would come to an end.  In the last year we’ve seen Twitch experiment with content in various ways, whether through co-streaming of sporting events, or even through the release of its own original game, Twitch Sings.  Last year at the TwitchCon keynote we heard Shear first mention the concept of “multiplayer entertainment” and how it’s a core concept to how they’re viewing the ongoing evolution of the platform.

Twitch was present last month at this year’s Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, and it was around that time that Variety sat down and filmed a short interview with Twitch COO Sara Clemens.  The natural question to kick things off was why Twitch was there at all, and Clemens wasted no time channeling Shear and taking us right back to the multiplayer entertainment concept.  She keyed in on several elements we’re keen on here at StreamKick, not least of which is the power of the relationship between the audience and the streamer. It’s good to see someone at Clemens’s level acknowledging this, however disappointing at the same time.

While more people are seeing more ads on Twitch now than ever before, there’s been virtually no progress made whatsoever to capitalize on the connections streamers work so tirelessly to foster with their communities.  I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve seen an advertiser embrace that relationship and allow the streamer to do what s/he does best - entertain.

So while Clemens and Twitch see Cannes as a natural fit, as a viewer I see an uncertain road ahead.  If Twitch was receptive to the gripes of its audience, it would understand that viewers are receptive to advertising if it isn’t completely disruptive to the reason they’re on the platform.  The on-demand movement that happened years ago was driven largely by a desire to eliminate commercials from television because they were necessarily disruptive. Live-streaming has eliminated that necessity.  And yet we have the frontrunning platform in the space doubling down on advertising which has meant little more than just more ads with increasing frequency.

It’s ironic that Cannes regulars are questioning how a dated model can be applied to a new medium like live-streaming, and Twitch is right there, eager to throw its hat in the ring and compete.  Meanwhile, Twitch’s viewers, the lifeblood of the platform, are pleading for a better means of product engagement and the response is to double advertising income while yanking a premium perk from paying members.

Does Twitch feel its streamers can’t integrate product messaging into their content?  Have they tried and failed so often that the future is predetermined? The “right” approach clearly isn’t obvious, but I’d love to see more effort put towards experimentation and more opportunities for streamers to showcase their talents.  It won’t come without growing pains, but we’re feeling those now anyway and with little progress to show for it.