If you watch Twitch, you probably know that the Amazon-owned streaming service has a partnership programme. Approved Twitch Partners can use a range of features to monetise their channel - the cheering feature and offering monthly subscriptions, for instance, are both exclusive to partners (and far more profitable than ads). But now, Twitch is offering a stepping stone to partnership for your average struggling streamer.
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That stepping stone is becoming an ‘affiliate’, under a new programme announced today.
It’ll roll out “very soon” and, unlike the partners programme, there’s no application process - if you qualify, Twitch will invite you to sign up. As to who qualifies, that’s a bit fluid: “the criteria [are] likely to change over time as the programme develops”, say Twitch. At launch, though, they’ll be inviting non-partnered streamers who have:
At least 500 total minutes broadcast in the last 30 days
At least 7 unique broadcast days in the last 30 days
An average of 3 concurrent viewers or more over the last 30 days
At least 50 Followers
Those aren’t particularly high bars, and they’re certainly well below the criteria required for partnership. If you happen to be a streamer who qualifies, Twitch say you’ll be notified when the programme launches, and will receive a message once you’ve been invited. Don’t hold your breath, though - “the initial wave of invitations around launch will be staggered over several weeks”, and will be sent out in further waves “every few weeks after launch”. Don’t necessarily expect to be invited as soon as it all kicks off, even if you meet the criteria.
The idea is to give smaller streamers a way to earn at least something from their channels as they continue to grow and aspire to full partnership, so let’s talk about how that’ll be done.
At launch, affiliates will be able to benefit from Cheering with Bits - a feature in which viewers can use a special Twitch currency (bits) to applaud the streamer when they do something cool.
Crucially, affiliates will be able to offer monthly subscriptions, but Twitch say this feature is ‘coming soon’, so presumably it won’t be enabled at launch. (This is also true of the recently-unveiled game sales feature is also open to affiliates.)
Unlike full partners, affiliates won’t be able to offer custom ‘Cheermotes’ when they’re cheered, and will be limited to just one subscriber-exclusive custom emote - it's not explicitly stated whether affiliates will be able to offer the new, premium subscription tiers, or if they'll have to stick with the basic $5 rate. Partners are also getting a bit of love, with new features to sharpen the lines between them and affiliates.
Regardless, it's a classy move by Twitch in what's been a busy month of announcements. Ads don't pay much when everyone blocks them, and building an audience is hard enough when so many other people would also love to 'play games for a living', as streaming (and games journalism, actually) is so often reductively described.
Best of luck to any aspiring streamers out there - hopefully this'll make things easier.