By Pavo Jurkic
January 5, 2019
You like to play video games, but your friends and family aren’t too fond of your hobby. They think you’re just wasting time that could be spent studying or engaging in a part-time job. But what if you could prove them wrong? What if you could earn money by playing video games? What if playing video games could be your part-time job? Doesn’t that sound too good to be true?
When something seems too good to be true, it probably is. But that’s not the case when it comes to Twitch streaming. Plenty of Twitch streamers started out streaming for fun, struggling to answer those previous questions. Many of them had to endure unsupportive environments, judgmental family figures, and all that nasty stuff.
Those who made it through to become full-time Twitch streamers are paving the way for a new generation of live stream superstars! Thanks to impeccable work ethic, hard work, and dedication, they’ve effectively transitioned their hobby (gaming) into a full-time job. If that doesn’t deserve respect, I really don’t know what does.
But how much money are we talking about? How much money do Twitch streamers make? Can it be considered a part-time job in this day in age? Well, one thing’s for sure – Twitch is a live streaming giant with more than 140 million unique monthly viewers, so it’s definitely the go-to platform for everyone interested in streaming as a part-time or even a full-time job.
That said, let’s check out how much money Twitch streamers make by examining their profit channels!
Basically, there are three main ways Twitch streamers make money. I’m referring to donations, subscriptions, and ads. There are additional profit channels such as partnerships and bits, but we’ll talk about those later on. For now, let’s focus on the main three and see how they stack up against each other.
You know the ad that plays right after you click on a Twitch live stream? Well, that’s the obligatory ad every Twitch live stream has. In addition to that, Twitch partner streamers can insert ads in their streams to bump up their earnings. Keep in mind we’re talking about a tiny amount per viewer… but that can still mean big bucks for streamers with thousands of active viewers.
Ad frequency varies from streamer to streamer. Some like to keep their content mostly ad-free, serving just that one initial obligatory ad. Others try to maximize their profits by constantly serving ads to their viewers. They’ll get the occasional burst of money, but it may hurt their views in the long run.
Subscriptions are arguably the most important aspect of a Twitch streamer’s career. Without a good subscriber count, a channel can’t experience natural growth. Without natural growth, the numbers (viewership and money) will stagnate until changes are made. That said, subscriptions are not only important for the streamer’s income, but for their popularity as well.
The Twitch subscription program works simply – viewers can pay $5 ($4.99 but you get the point) to subscribe to their favorite streamers. But wait, watching live streams is free, why should anyone subscribe to a channel? Because subscribing brings perks, such as loyalty badges and access to sub emotes which can be used anywhere on Twitch. Additionally, some streamers have their chats in sub-only mode, giving chat access only to their subscribers.
Out of these five bucks per subscriptions, most streamers only get like $2.50. Only the chosen bunch (most popular channels with tens of thousands of viewers per stream) gets around $3.5 per subscription. With that in mind, it’s clear subscriptions are of huge importance, especially for growing channels.
Another thing to keep in mind is the Twitch Prime system, which allows people to link their Amazon Prime accounts with Twitch. They get a free subscription to a single channel each month without having to pay. However, streamers still get their share of the cake, despite the fact some of their subscribers are Twitch Prime members.
Donations are the third and final piece of this puzzle. As you all know, Twitch streamers usually have some sort of donation system in place for their viewers. This way, their fans can show their appreciation by sending donations directly to their PayPal accounts. Because donations aren’t going through Twitch, streamers get the full donation amount… minus some bank fees which are negligible considering Twitch’s subscription fees.
The biggest issue with donations is that some people deem them as begging. However, at least in my personal opinion, it’s far from that. Here’s why:
Most streamers aren’t begging for money and incentivizing donations every couple of minutes. Since many people already pay for other types of entertainment (cinema, video games, Netflix subscriptions), why shouldn’t they be able to show their gratitude toward their favorite streamers with a donation?
After all, streaming on Twitch isn’t as cheap as most of you think. It takes an expensive gaming PC, impeccable network connection, and plenty of video games to entertain Twitch audiences. Not to mention the time, dedication, and charisma required to make it big.
In addition to those three profit channels explained above, there are also partnership deals, merch, and bits. Let’s check them out to see what they’re all about!
The biggest Twitch streamers are enrolled in various partnership deals. These can range from hardware partnerships, coupon codes, brand sponsorships, sponsored games, all the way to third-party app promotions, sponsored streams, and many others. Ever seen a Red Bull minifridge in a stream? Probably a sponsorship. That said, it’s really difficult to quantify steamers’ earnings based on their partnership deals simply because it’s too broad of a term.
Moreover, some streamers also have merch for sale. While this technically isn’t a partnership deal, it’s still worth mentioning, as it can yield hefty sums of money. Hoodies, shirts, jackets, headbands, and all that good stuff – merch is a great way to show real life appreciation for your favorite Twitch streamers.
Bits are another way for fans to show appreciation to their favorite streamers. Bit cheering was introduced back in 2016, with cute and colorful chat animations that can be used everywhere on Twitch. 100 bits costs roughly $1.40, but the price scales down if you’re buying a ton at once. Streamers earn roughly one cent per bit, so people usually think bit earnings aren’t huge… however, you might be surprised how they stack up on a monthly basis, especially with top-ranking streamers.
There’s a great video made by Disguised Toast on YouTube, released just a couple of months ago. It portrays the current state of affairs in the Twitch community and takes a look at how much money streamers make. His numbers are a little outdated, so I had to do the number crunching with the most recent numbers.
Nevertheless, here’s (about) how much money Twitch streamers make these days:
Please note that these numbers are rough estimates, mainly based on subscription counts and ad revenue (based on the average concurrent viewership within the last 30 days) since there’s no way to give precise values for other sources of income, such as sponsorships.
Subscription counts are taken from Twitchstats.net, which claims their margin of error is less than 5%. The total number of subscribers is multiplied by 3.5, which is what the biggest streamers make per subscription.
Ad revenue is calculated with the assumption that all streamers on this list serve around 100 ads on a weekly basis. This number is multiplied with their average weekly concurrent viewership, multiplied again by 0.001 which is the effective cost per impression, and then added to the subscription earnings.
Once again, these numbers are only rough estimates and don’t even touch the donations, partnerships, bits, and merch. Still, it’s a good way to gauge just how much money Twitch streamers are making these days.
After checking out how much money Twitch streamers make, it’s time to decide whether 2019 is too late to kickstart your live streaming career. The first thing we have to take into consideration is the fact we’ve only been talking about the biggest Twitch superstars out there. You need to realize that these are the 1%. Heck, even less than that! If you’re thinking of earning hundreds of thousands of dollars off Twitch, you’re probably way over your head…
Succeeding on Twitch is difficult, to say the least. Now more than ever, with so many gamers taking up Twitch streaming as their part-time job. Growing your channel from nothing is a cumbersome task that requires charisma, dedication, skill, great equipment, and most importantly, a good deal of luck. All of these top-ranking Twitch superstars are self-made millionaires, respected influencers, and above-all smart businessmen who’ve made it big, despite odds not being in their favor.
That said, it’s not late to become a full-time Twitch streamer… but realistically speaking, making it huge is more difficult than ever.