Twitch is the one of world’s most popular live streaming video platforms. It’s become the channel of choice for gamers across the globe – the centerpiece venue for competitive gaming, gambling and eSports. An August 25, 2014, Twitch CEO Emmett Shear wrote to users of the live-stream platform Twitch — which he had co-founded just three years prior.
“Dear Twitch Community,” he wrote. “It’s almost unbelievable that slightly more than 3 years ago, Twitch didn’t exist. The moment we launched, we knew we had stumbled across something special. But what followed surprised us as much as anyone else, and the impact it’s had on both the community and us has been truly profound.”
The letter followed the announcement that Twitch had sold to Amazon for an impressive $970 million. Shear explained to the platform’s users that Amazon shared their belief in “community, they share our values and long-term vision”. He thanked the community he helped build for what they had created; a destination for broadcasting live video game playing. More importantly, a place to share gaming experiences online.
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It was a vision with unparalleled, and unpredicted, success. Twitch has grown its community to 15 million daily users — with the average person watching 106 minutes per day. The platform reportedly has over 2.2 million monthly broadcasters; live streamed gaming content accounts for 241 billion minutes. In 2015 Twitch began hosting conventions — aptly called TwitchCon. The 2017 event was held at Long Beach Convention and Entertainment Centre; 50,000 people attended this three-day event.
Under Amazon, Twitch will become a bigger platform than its founders could have ever imagined. Its most recent expansion is into the world of online casinos.
Here is how it’s happening.
The Twitch Effect
In December 2017, Twitch announced a move into traditional sport broadcasting, launching partnerships with both the NFL and the NBA. The platform had previously streamed sports-related video games and interacted with pro athletes through their own at-home game play. Pro wrestling events and health and fitness streams had already gained popularity on Twitch, but the December announcement — which included hosting Thursday Night Football games and NBA games — was a decisive shift for the video streaming service.
But their entertainment offering had long gone past the world of video games. In January 2015, Twitch entered the world of gambling by beginning to broadcast online poker players — including sponsored professionals. According to The Guardian, some channels were already being watched by seven-figure audiences, and in January it 56 million minutes of poker had been streamed on the platform. Poker players loved to share their talent and diversify their fanbase through the world through Twitch — and audiences wanted to watch them do it.
When interviewed in 2016, Jamie Somerville, the first Twitch poker streamer with 10 million views, said: “People were already watching video gamers play with no money on the line. If that’s interesting, it made sense to me that it might be even more interesting for viewers to watch people play for tens if not hundreds of thousands of dollars in poker.”
He added: “Poker TV coverage has definitely declined in the last few years, to the point that TV poker here in America is a shadow of what it once was. Twitch, on the other hand, is very democratic in that anybody can stream and if you are entertaining and interesting enough you can build a following and go from there.”
Somerville was right. By 2018, poker had over 600,000 followers on Twitch; people were tuning into big games at the best known casinos in Las Vegas, and watching their favourite professional players compete around the world. On Twitch, the virtual is consistently fused with the physical; Jason Somerville’s Twitch channel Run It Up TV, for example, went so far as to offer Twitch members the chance to go to the Pokerstars Poker Players Championship.
As poker rose in popularity, so did other online casino games. The platform has hosted streamers playing almost every game imaginable — from slots and jackpot, to blackjack and roulette. It has captured the imagination of gaming and gambling fans across the world; watching people experience losses and wins was a relatable form of entertainment.
Streamers began playing together, chatting with viewers online and even hosted giveaways. Online casino channels quickly grew a following, the type of games continued to diversify and casino broadcasters proliferated. There was a broadcaster, and game, to suit any online casino game preference. That’s why you’ll find many online operators have a presence on Twitch, including some of the most exciting online casino brands in the world.
How streamers make money from Twitch
Millions of Twitch streamers have been able to earn a living from the channel through donations, subscriptions and ads.
Donations. If you’re not partnered with Twitch, donations are the only way you can earn money. You need to set up a donation box on your page to start benefitting from this. Just stick a link to PayPal to your profile and your viewers will be able to easily click through to donate some cash.
Subscriptions. You need to apply for a partnership to start making money from subscriptions. Once you have one, you can start charging your viewers. Subscribers pay a monthly fee of $4.99, with half going to Twitch and half to you, the streamer.
Advertising. Depending on how many viewers you get, you can make a bomb in ad revenue. In this scenario, Twitch drafts a contract with each partnered streamer which defines your personal rates and rewards when it comes to ad revenue. One risk of this approach is that many viewers will have AdBlock plug-ins on their browsers.
The top players to follow in 2019
Outside Jason Somerville (who’s Twitch channel Run It Up TV now has over 220,000 subscribers) here are the online casino broadcasters you should be following.
Poker Staples. A Canadian poker player from Alberta, Jamie Staples runs the channel Poker Staples, where he currently has 119,216 followers. One of the most-watched single poker streamers on Twitch, in 2018 Staples placed first, second and third at the Run It Up Reno VI tournament.
Courtiebee. Courtney Gee plays under the channel courtiebee, where she has amassed 37,360 followers who call themselves The Swarm. A professional poker player from Vancouver, Canada, Gee streams five days per week and focuses on multi-table tournaments, as well as hosting her own tournaments for her followers called Bee Fights. “It’s been my favorite hobby,” Gee said in an interview. “I’ve tried a wide variety of jobs. The only thing I’ve ever had a passion for is poker. I made it a goal to never work a nine-to-five job for anyone, ever again. I’m confident I can achieve this goal with the help of poker.”
Rocknrollaaaaaa. Rocknrollaaaaaa currently has 22,460 followers. A slots, roulette, poker and blackjack gamer, this broadcaster has one of the biggest followings for a diverse range of online casino games. Rocknrollaaaaaa plays for big wins, and is definitely one to follow — especially for those who enjoy watching gambling outside the realms of poker.
LexVeldhuis. Lex Veldhuis is a professional poker player from the Netherlands, who runs a channel by the same name. A registered partner of the platform, Veldhuis over 12 years experience as well as over 90,000 followers. “I love Twitch; I love streaming, I love poker,” Veldhuis said in an interview last year. “The more significant my stream gets, the more doors open and the bigger my level gets. “It’s the same with poker; I have never been financially driven,” he added. “It has always been about more success, more attention, more achievements. Even though climbing the stakes means you make and need more money it was the competition and the new challenges that made me better.”
Sodapoppin. Chance Morris is Sodapoppin — an American Twitch broadcaster and live blackjack player as well as a World of Warcraft gamer. He’s known for taking big risks; winning and losing thousands of dollars at a time. Morris is someone to watch for the entertainment value — and if you want to live vicariously through the highs and lows of gambling.
The world of online casino games, broadcasters, channels and viewers on Twitch is continuously growing. From live streams of professional players in Las Vegas’ top casinos, to broadcasters playing from their laptops at home, the expansiveness, and entertainment value of Twitch will only proliferate in years to come.