According to Twitter channel Streamer News, Twitch is testing a brand new subscriber-only livestream function that could drastically alter the way viewers interact with their favorite content creators. Twitch is the most popular livestreaming platform in video gaming, with several content creators maintaining full careers out of producing content daily on the website and creating vast, dedicated communities of fans along the way.
Twitch isn't just about content production, however, having been the site of a number of impactful movements and moments that have colored community understanding of politics, health, and more. Previously, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez appeared during one creator's charity stream, making waves for her willingness to engage on a platform many other politicians had shunned. Charity drives like Games Done Quick have also made headlines for raising millions for different organizations while streaming speedruns of popular video games. A key theme throughout those instances, however, is the accessibility that Twitch offers its viewers, something that could be challenged by the introduction of its newest feature.
According to Streamer News, a new subscriber-only feature is being tested on the Hgg_cheering_test Twitch channel. A screenshot shared by the account suggested that non-subscribers will only be able to view a brief free preview of a stream before they need to subscribe to continue watching its content. There's also a message that outlines why subscribing is beneficial, including "ad-free viewing (with limited exceptions" and the ability to "watch and chat during subscriber-only streams." According to Streamer News, consumers should expect an official announcement of the feature from Twitch soon:
Twitch is testing subscriber-only live streams. No official announcement yet, but we'd expect one soon. Check out a preview at https://t.co/E7w9uxZ4LH— Streamer News (@StreamerNews) May 27, 2019
Thank you to @Tomparkes1993 @LBrGaming for tip. pic.twitter.com/xnaHyNIPFt
It's likely not time to panic just yet, though. There's a strong chance that if this is implemented at all, it will be done for esports events in a limited capacity, and isn't likely to affect regular partners. Several analysts have since pointed out that it's an old model of a feature that may be resurrected for a specific event, too, so the only thing that's known for sure is that the feature is being tested, not that it will actually be implemented, nor how widespread a potential implementation would be.
We're going to leave up the original tweet because it's sparking some good discussions. And maybe that will be helpful to Twitch. But it does seem like this isn't something coming for regular partners. Probably select esports streams only.https://t.co/iqtCjjGkbP— Streamer News (@StreamerNews) May 27, 2019
That being said, is it really such a shock to see Twitch attempt to adopt this sort of business model? It seems a natural extension of the pay-per-view model that companies like World Wrestling Entertainment have relied on for decades. While many consumers feel this would be a bad idea, it would be interesting to see what the content creators themselves think—incentivizing subscribers while giving them the chance to divide up their content might be exactly what streamers are looking for.