Whether you’re casually interested in Twitch or looking to become the very best streamer in history, one question often looms: How do they make money?
Sure, we’ve already talked about what it’s like being a YouTube content creator, but what’s it like being a Twitch partner? Can you really support yourself? Let’s find out!
How Twitch streamers earn money
There are a number of methods on Twitch for monetization.
Donations are a streamer’s best friend! Money goes straight from the giver to the streamer, avoiding Twitch entirely. It’s an easy and meaningful “thank you” from users who love a channel.
Understandably, since Twitch earns nothing, they require streamers to set up donation links for themselves. Take, for example, the Apex Legends streamer Viss. On their channel, you can find a number of links directly below the stream, as seen below:
All streamers that set up donations will have something like this button on their site. You may have to search, but it’ll be there!
If you are a streamer looking to set up direct donations on your site, you have the option to give your donors a choice of emoji that plays over the stream. We suggest using this to let the donors know they’re appreciated!
Twitch Affiliates and Partners
Before we go on, we need to discuss two terms: affiliates and partners. Essentially, these are two levels of Twitch streamer that each unlock new aspects of monetization.
To become an affiliate, you must reach 50 followers and meet a few criteria for monthly streaming (ex: 500 minutes on 7 unique days, etc.). Once that’s accomplished, you can apply to be an affiliate.
And why would you? Because subscriptions and bit donations start right here, along with the ability to earn from the advertisements played on your channel.
Partners are a step above affiliates, and the requirements for partnership are set down in the aptly named Path to Partner. Basically, have 75 viewers on average, and a meet a much higher number of average streams. Twitch describes the ideal Partner as someone who they can partner with to exemplify a good streamer to others on the site.
This final tier has many more benefits: promotions on the Twitch website, channel-specific benefits to subscribers, potentially paid appearances at conventions, and more. We’ll talk about a few of these further down.
Twitch subscriptions can be confusing for anyone traveling from YouTube, where “subscribe” simply means to follow a channel.
Here, subscriptions work more like a regular streaming service (think Hulu or Netflix). Users pay monthly fees for the ability to watch without ads, and half the subscription cost goes to the streamer.
With a subscription, viewers can also attain user badges and special emoji to enter in the live chat. Also, they may be invited to subscriber-only chatrooms.
Once again, these features become available at the affiliate level. Meanwhile, partners can begin to create their own badges and emoji for greater personalization.
Bits are another form of “direct donation.” However, these are officially created by Twitch themselves and are only available to affiliates and above.
They work something like in-game currency: you buy bits, which are then used to purchase emotes that play over a streamer’s video. When this happens, you have a chance of being personally thanked by the recipient!
Once again, to create unique bit emotes and “cheermotes,” you must gain the level of Partner.
Outside of Twitch (Somewhat…)
There are many monetization options that aren’t connected to Twitch. These can actually be some of the best sources of income, but won’t be available to smaller streamers for quite a while.
Many streamers use their channel to set up personal connections to products. Sometimes this takes the form of advertisements on their channel, which admittedly will be run through Twitch. Oftentimes, streamers can be paid for simply putting something in a video.
Think product placement in your favorite movies!
Take the above photo of Ninja for example. In most of his streams, the camera has been set so viewers are able to see his monitor, refrigerator, keyboard, and gaming computer. We guarantee each and every one of those things are created by sponsors who pay Ninja to subtly represent their product.
While Twitch Partners may receive offers to show up for Twitch events to represent the company, there are many different businesses that will pay to have streaming legends appear for their product.
At E3 2019, the creators of Philips Hue, a company that uses light shows to enhance gaming experiences, invited Apex, a member of the FaZe Fortnite clan, to join their booth for media interviews.
So, is Twitch Prime Related?
With all this talk of Twitch, users familiar with the website may be questioning: does Prime affect monetization?
The answer is: kinda.
In addition to video game specific benefits like free loot boxes, every Twitch Prime member gets one free monthly subscription, which at this time would normally cost $5.
So, remember how we said Twitch streamers get about half of the subscription cost? In this situation, they still get paid half the month’s subscription, even though the actual viewer didn’t put money down.
Between direct donations, the affiliate and partner programs, subscriptions, bits, sponsors, appearances, and Twitch Prime, monetization can seem a bit daunting at first, when combined with everything else this streaming platform offers. We hope this guide gives you a better idea of how everything works.