Friday, February 25, 2022

Streaming to More Than Just Twitch

In a few of the more autobiographical entries, I’ve mentioned how I have worked on many channels before my current one. And in the past ten or so years, those have spanned across several different livestreaming and non-live services. Then in 2016 I was hired by a company to produce live content on Facebook when the social media giant’s broadcasting tools were only just beginning to roll out. And when I eventually started my own Twitch channel, every Twitch broadcast was going simultaneously to Facebook and YouTube, before becoming exclusive to Twitch. So despite the fact that I’ve only ever spoken about livestreaming on Twitch in this podcast so far, I’m certainly no stranger to the various other streaming ecosystems. So in this entry, we’ll jump into a subject I’ve never covered in the Twitch Playbook before: streaming to more than just Twitch. 


You can make great content whether or
not you sign. But you always have a choice.

Most Twitch streamers aim for the platform-exclusive path. This means they try to grow fast enough on the Twitch platform to sign an Affiliate contract, and eventually move up to the highest rung on the Twitch ladder, Partner. These contracts bring great benefits. You’ll make money off your streams from ad revenue, monthly subscriptions and optional tip-jar style donations from viewers. Viewers get various goodies from your channel as well, like loyalty badges, fun emotes to use in your chat, and any other perks you choose to include for your most faithful supporters. And on top of that there’s always the invisible benefit of focus: I’ve often mentioned that being
really good in one field is typically preferable to being mediocre in many, and streaming is no different. Sticking to Twitch can help you grow very fast, if you learn how to play the game properly. 

But signing a contract with Twitch also limits you in a few key ways. First, by becoming an Affiliate or Partner you’re signing away your rights to simultaneously stream on any other platforms. Violating this is an easy way to have your privileges revoked. You also can’t post your stream anywhere else for at least 24 hours- it has to be exclusive to Twitch in that span. Now, these rules are understandable. Considering Twitch will be the platform paying you, they want to be the place viewers go to see your shows when they’re new. But all these thoughts are just theoretical, right? You hardly have a choice in the matter. How else are you going to monetize if you’re not getting paid by the Twitch platform for your shows? If a Twitch streamer is serious, they have to sign an Affiliate contract. Right?


Depending on what kind of content you make, or the direction you want your brand to grow, you may not want to be exclusive to just the Twitch platform. We’re going to assume that Twitch is always one of the platforms you’re streaming to (this is The Twitch Playbook, after all), but that you just want to add others like YouTube or Facebook to the mix. And if that is the case, it’s important to know that you do have monetization options- Twitch’s contract isn’t the only way. In fact, if you really think about it, many of the revenue streams that Twitch Affiliates create are actually attainable without signing a contract at all. Let’s explore a few: 

  • Merch Stores - This is a great option for those who have a strong brand following. There are plenty of good ‘print on demand’ services out there which can provide you high-quality products to sell without charging any up-front costs. Just make sure to watch the profit margins, because they typically take a high percentage for printing, packing and shipping every item. Using various software integrations, you can even show exciting graphics on your streams whenever someone makes a purchase from your store.

  • Donations - Viewers can donate to you directly through various third-party services, in almost the exact same way they would do through Twitch’s built-in Cheer feature. There are great software integrations for donations as well, which can show graphics and messages on your stream whenever someone sends you money. Depending on the service you use, they may even take a smaller cut from what you make than Twitch does.

  • Subscriptions - The subscription is the bread and butter of any streamer’s monetization strategy. But there are plenty of ways to let viewers subscribe to your content for a monthly fee outside of Twitch. Patreon is a great one- you gain the ability to create more tiers for higher-paying subscribers, and the amount of extra content you offer is up to you. I know people who make a great living through Patreon as a sole monetary backbone for their video offerings. 

Your livestreaming empire might reach
beyond Twitch.

And of course, the best part about a setup like this is that if you’re multistreaming to Twitch, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and wherever else you’re trying to build a fanbase, anyone watching any of those streams can buy merch, donate or subscribe. This removes the exclusivity ceiling, though it does also slightly inconvenience Twitch viewers, who are typically used to Cheering and Subscribing directly through the built-in ecosystem without visiting other websites. It’s a give and take, and it won’t be right for everyone, but if your viewers are enthusiastic about supporting you, it shouldn’t be too much of an issue. 

So if you’re interested in adding other platforms to the livestreaming side of your brand in addition to Twitch, hopefully this shows that there are plenty of possibilities. I’ve done it in the past, and I’ve only ever had good experiences doing so. There are lots of people out there on other services who could be interested to watch your shows, comment along, and help to support your content. But there’s no right answer, and you certainly shouldn’t rush to a decision. I’m not saying you should cancel your Affiliate contract and start multicasting today. But as I often do in The Twitch Playbook, I’d like to encourage you to think outside the typical Twitch trajectory, and open your mind to new ideas. Consider whether streaming to more than just Twitch is right for you. It’s possible that there’s a whole world of opportunity waiting. 

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