Twitch has a new feature for streamers to use, and it is definitely making some waves. Back in May, Twitch began testing out a new subscriber-only model of content-viewing with a few popular streamers. This meant that non-subscribers would only get to see a preview of the stream, and have to opt-in to join the stream and/or see the whole video. Twitch also boasted that "subscriber-only" streams would be completely free of ads and give the audience a new and more personal way to communicate with their favorite creators.
Initially, it was thought that this might only apply to special events or e-sport championships. It was also thought that it might help streamers and content creators work together toward bigger events and goals. As with most things on the internet, this announcement was met with a mixture of apprehension and optimism. Some thought it could be a tool to bring out big names or shed light on more niche areas. However, as the beta for this new feature rolled out yesterday, it looks like it's going to have much more of an impact than previously speculated.
According to the official Twitch blog, the streaming service wants to get this new feature "into as many creators' hands as possible." They also stipulate that streamers who take advantage of this subscriber-only model must be an "affiliate or partner" in good standing with Twitch. For example, Dr. Disrespect might have trouble getting his own subscriber-only stream, even though he is recording again. The blog even hints that their "Squad Streamers" should get involved, implying that viewers who don't subscribe might miss out on some big events. The announcement made big news and left a lot of people very unhappy.
Daniel Ahmad accuses Twitch of "splitting the community" and Rod Breslau is sarcastically "sure this will have no problems." The Twitch Twitter account is especially feeling the heat as a war has broken out in the comment section. Most people engaged with the announcement seem to think this is disastrous for the streaming giant, while some others think it isn't that big of a deal. By and large, the anti-subscriber-stream crowd seems to be larger and growing. That said, @Spiderham900 asked,"Who on earth wants to separate their community like this..." However, there are a few defenders who claim this was bound to happen in one way or another.
@JERICHO makes the point that "Twitch...is not the problem" and to "be upset with the streamer who's actually paywalling their content." He also claims that this is no different than Patreon, a very popular subscribing service that allows content creators to make a living off of what they create. This is an interesting perspective because it lays out the case for not asking fans to pay a subscription fee. Smaller channels may keep their streams free simply to ride the wave of resentment and grab on to a bigger audience.
There is already some indication that this will make the distance between large and small content creators even greater. Some streamers may see getting subscribers as a way to make more money, while others may keep their streams free to grow with more viewers. It remains to be seen as to how this will affect Twitch's most popular channels and hidden gems, but it's safe to say that it's off to a rocky start.