For those of us embarking on the vague and uncertain journey toward Twitch partnership there are many different theories, complaints, and ideas about how or why success is attained on Twitch. Some complain that nobody watches smaller streamers while others chase the wind in trying to figure out the silver bullet game that will garner them the most views and follows. I have a video about how you can do a few things to work toward having a quality stream that people will actually want to watch, but even applying good principles isn’t a guarantee. You could easily put in a bunch of time and effort seeing almost no return on your time investment. It’s a lot of effort combined with some luck, timing, and strategy. As someone who isn’t partnered but senses the real possibility, I think there are some features that could help smaller streamers, and even one new feature that is meant to help but currently hurts a bit.
New features that help and don’t
Recently Twitch announced via Twitter that they would be giving quality transcoding options (source, high, medium, low) to the top 1200 streamers regardless of being partnered. Up to this point the only way to have quality options for your viewers was to be partnered. So now, at any given time, if you aren’t partnered but are doing well with viewership, you can suddenly have quality options showing up on your stream. This is really great news for those of us trying to climb the ladder, but the downside is that currently the feature resets your stream when it activates. Some of my viewers don’t notice it, but typically as I’m rounding into the 20’s my viewer number resets to 0 and many have to refresh or think the stream has crashed. The real problem with this is that climbing the rankings of a given game’s page can be very tough, and losing 10-15 viewers may not mean anything to a big streamer, but it can be the difference between being in the top 5 and nobody seeing your stream. Those of us with even a moderate amount of experience know how badly a crash can affect momentum and this is, in a way, a reset to your stream. It even affects your past broadcasts by splitting a long stream into two pieces, which when doing a “let’s play” and exporting to YouTube can be incredibly frustrating by adding extra work. Again, this effort from Twitch is encouraging as it shows a commitment to expanding the partnership pool, but it needs to be done in a way that doesn’t reset the stream. If it isn’t technologically possible, then so be it, I’ll take the extra help, hopefully they can figure out a way to smooth things over. And if features are getting added I have a suggestion that would be hugely helpful to faithful streamers who may not be partnered yet.
There will always be lots of smaller up-and-coming streamers who faithfully keep a schedule, but depending on their game of choice and time of stream they may not stand a chance of ever getting noticed. Games like Destiny have powerhouse streamers who consistently sit at the top with hundreds and thousands of viewers. Now, to be clear, their standing and rank is well deserved and should stay in place. But if someone is regularly in the top 1200 category and streams consistently for, let’say, 5 days in a row for more than an average of 3-4 hours, they should earn loyalty perks that comes with certain benefits. One easy perk could be getting a temporary “featured spot” at the top of a game’s streamers. The truth is, the large established streamers have loyal fan bases and will continue to grow regardless if a small streamer gets to sit at the top for 20-30 minutes. Some might think this isn’t fair and that everyone should have to earn their place the same way. To a point, I agree with that, but the nature of Twitch streaming is a new and ever changing animal. If Twitch looks at their broadcasters and sees a certain percentage of them that keeps a committed and lengthy schedule, but they continue to struggle to capture viewership it may be a lot of missed opportunity. Sure, some of them may be embarking on a fruitless endeavor because they lack the skill, personality, or mass appeal to capture an audience, and the perks would probably not benefit them. But the additional features for non-partnered streamers has come at a time where it seems intended to maintain a competitive edge over YouTube as their game streaming service is around the corner. So keeping in line with this competition motivated effort I think the top 1200 streamers could be afforded extra benefits if they fall into a consistent and lengthy streamer category. And especially if the transcoding feature continues to reset the streams, a good time to bump them to the top for 20-30 minutes would be immediately after these features get added.
Another easy perk would be to utilize the Twitch twitter account to periodically promote said regular streamers who consistently land in the top 1200. So when they’ve hit a certain benchmark and get swapped over to having their transcoding options, they could simultaneously get a tweet blast sent out by the Twitch twitter account. They could also have a weekly email to highlight up-and-coming streamers who are hitting good numbers and consistently getting the 1200 faithful streamer perks. Twitch almost assuredly realizes that their success is linked to the consistent engagement and growth of all streamers. Everyone appeals to a certain sector, and the big streamers hit a point where the participatory nature of their stream simply goes away out of necessity. Gothalion can’t be expected to talk to over 5,000 people while also playing Destiny, and that’s why smaller streamers will always have a place to grow and offer a different flavor. And it’s honestly cyclical as many who enjoy my stream have said they used to watch certain streamers but they got so big the interaction has become almost impossible. So up and comers who grow and start pulling in large viewership numbers will always have people that filter back down through and look for smaller more engaging streams.
A rising tide lifts all boats
If Twitch continually empowers those faithful broadcasters at the bottom, they will always have a revolving door of committed streamers and viewers to make competing with Twitch even tougher. Because honestly most people who invest large chunks of time into streaming aren’t going to continue doing it if they feel it’s a fools errand or that Twitch isn’t helping them get exposure. Given that even the most popular games aren’t going to have too many out of the top 1200 non-partnered streamers at a given moment, it won’t take away from other top streams by having featured and promotion perks to help out the little guys. And I’ve said this before on my stream… Successful streamers are not my competition, they are my allies. They help the brand awareness and success of Twitch with their commitment and audience, and the rest of us can only benefit from that, so long as we are empowered to have upward mobility and avenues for success. No, everyone should not be given an easy path simply because they whine and want more viewers. But the faithful, committed, and consistently top 1200 streamers should have more opened up to them as it will benefit everyone.
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