Twitch Begins Testing ‘Intrusive’ Mid-Roll Ads on Streams

by in General | Sep, 15th 2020

Every single time Twitch does something great and positive for the streaming community; they immediately flush their goodwill right down the toilet. Last week, we discussed Twitch’s Versus system, which we were wildly excited for. But this week, they found a way to ruin that hype with something neither useful nor innovative. Twitch is rolling out a new mid-roll ad feature on streams today, and there’s no way to opt-out of it. Now, this could be a great way to ad some more revenue to streams, but not everyone is happy about this new system being tested.

If we were paranoid people, we’d say this is to distract people from Nadeshot having Dr Disrespect in his voice chat on a stream, but that’s not likely. But what if?

A New System for Twitch

Mid-roll ads aren’t a new thing on other streaming platforms like YouTube, but they’re very counterintuitive on Twitch. Twitch is live streaming. What happens if one of these ads pop up and an incredible hype moment is missed? Can you imagine watching someone stream in League of Legends, and right as a 1v5 or something kicks off, an ad shows up? That would be dreadful!

Now admittedly, the stream will mute and still play in a small window. But it’s not going to be the same at all. People will miss out on important moments, conversations, or information when that ad is going on. Twitch did point out that if the streamer has recently run an ad (though they did not say how long), the mid-roll ads won’t roll automatically.

So, why is this going down? Is it a way to recoup all that Ninja/Shroud money? No, probably not. This is just a change that’s been going down across streaming media. At least YouTube gave people plenty of time on the backend to be aware that mid-roll ads were coming, and let them opt-out. On top of that, YouTube videos pause when the ads are up and come back exactly where you left off. Since streams live, there’s no way to stop the action, and people will miss possibly fantastic stuff.

This feature isn’t something the Twitch audience has been asking for. Nobody has said to our knowledge, “Hey, can you throw more random ads into the streams? We want you to interrupt our fan engagement with annoying ads!” but here we are. The ability to not opt-out has led quite a few streamers to recommend their audience try to run ad blockers. From what we’ve heard, that doesn’t stop the ads from going through. The fact that the streamer has no control over when these ads drop is the worst, most egregious part of the testing.

Many streamers use ads while waiting through matchmaking or getting up to run to the bathroom/grab a drink/take their dog outside. Having zero control other than “running your own ads” is an unfortunate part of Twitch mid-roll ads.

Twitch assured the streaming community that these ads will directly support the creator/channel owner, but we’d be lying if we didn’t say we were skeptical. This could be pretty harmful for newer/smaller streamers to boot. Many people find themselves just closing a stream if they show up, and an ad immediately plays.

Sure, streamers are always looking for more income, but we’re not sure if this is how to go about it. The system is being “tested,” after all. It could change if the community is very vocal about how they feel about it. It feels like a very greedy, heartless decision. We have no idea what the criteria are for these mid-roll ads on Twitch. Is it certain types of streamers? Is it going to target bigger or smaller streamers? There’s a lot we don’t know yet. We’ll be keeping an eye on it.

How do you feel? Is it a greedy, Scrooge McDuckian decision, or a good way for new/smaller streamers to make more revenue without running ads on their own?


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