Why I left the Twitch Affiliate Program

It’s been a significant amount of time since I’ve written a post on here. I’m a terrible blogger in the sense I don’t write often enough, even after saying I will. So I’m making some changes to better assist that – I’ll just stop promising regular posts.

Sometime around the 15th of January, 2020, I made the active decision to terminate my Affiliate agreement with Twitch/Amazon after almost six months of contemplating and thinking about it. I had been back and forth on whether or not I want to, thinking of the possible ramifications of such action that it got a point where I gave myself a deadline to decide and acted upon that choice.

Since leaving the Twitch Affiliate Program, and the announcement to that effect, I’ve spoken with a number of other Twitch Affiliates who were also thinking about doing the same, noting they either weren’t sure how or if they could, and what my own reasons were for leaving. I’ve explained this pretty often that I thought “hey, this might make a decent blog post” and thus here we are.

Some of the Affiliates I’ve spoken to have also taken the leap and terminated their Affiliate agreements also, which to quote a friend and fellow broadcaster:

More people knowing their worth is so good to see!

AnamanaAU, April 2020

The tl;dr version is that the terms of the agreement didn’t suit me as a content creator anymore, among other reasons. But I’ll provide more detail below.

Creative Freedom

Within the Twitch Affiliate agreement is a clause the states that any content produced via Twitch’s livestreaming platform is exclusive to Twitch for a period of 24 hours from where the broadcast is concluded – meaning you cannot make use of multi-streaming services like Restream.io, or post any content of the stream on alternate services like YouTube inside of that 24 hour window.

You cannot even post a clip as a direct upload to a Tweet – you may share the link to the clip, but not directly upload the video of the clip itself as an embed.

While you can still link to a clip or a VOD, let’s be real here. Social media users are lazy for the most part, and generally prefer to not browse outside of the platform where possible. The ratio of views on a clip I’ve linked on a Tweet compared to direct uploads is pretty significant, in favour of the direct upload. Sure, views doesn’t necessarily mean people are watching it, but it’s a damn sure indication they’ve seen it.

With this in mind, the content exclusivity window prohibits any potential new viewers that could be enticed to watch through a combination of the above, and posting clips to Twitter while you’re still live, striking while the iron is hot as it were.

I’ve made use of posting clips whilst live, and for the times that Twitter isn’t being an absolute cuck and refusing my uploads due to file formatting issues, it’s worked pretty well. People come in to the stream to check out what’s going on from the snippet of content they’ve seen, and stay for a little bit to chat.

Looking at Twitch’s decisions more critically

In July of 2019, a dubious situation occurred where a Partnered broadcaster on Twitch by the name of Alinity was seen throwing her cat over her head and behind chair, which was then clipped and shared on social media. This sparked outrage among the Twitch community, with many calling for the broadcaster to be banned for animal abuse.

After a short period of time that had passed and Alinity had not yet been banned, members of the Twitch community began to question the inaction by Twitch officials, given other broadcasters had been banned for much, much less.

To date, multiple occurrences of questionable behaviour has occurred from Alinity while livestreaming and action is yet to be taken.

The initial incident involving Alinity was enough for me to question where Twitch sits on enforcing the rules and standards they impose of the community and the broadcasters who create content for platform.

It isn’t the first time that Twitch has failed to respond appropriately to such activity. In fact, it’s a repeating pattern when it comes to making rules and enforcing them. It appears to be selectively enforced, or at the very least, inconsistently adhered to.

Another example is Dr. Disrespect, who at a convention filmed inside of a restroom with other occupants there. This one is a bit complicated, because Dr. Disrespect wasn’t actually the one holding the camera, but the camera technician was there to assist the Doc with filming his escapades at the convention. Individual responsibility aside, the Doc was still responsible for his camera crew at the event.

The crux of the issue Twitch often touts that they welcome others to make them accountable, and when the general consensus is that disciplinary action should be taken for an obvious breach of the community standards, nothing happens.

No matter what the motive is (which in my opinion, is money), it’s hard to argue that Twitch’s stance on the above has been questionable, and deserves a deeper, critical look at their decision making process.

Financial reasons

The heading doesn’t really tell the whole picture, but it’s the closest thing that I could think of that encompasses it.

In conjunction with the above about Twitch’s inconsistent decision making, which partially ties into this reason as well, money was also a factor in my decision to leave the Twitch Affiliate program.

It isn’t a case of me thinking that I deserve more money, or I wasn’t making enough on Twitch and left to make it big elsewhere or anything like that. But rather, I wanted more affordable options for my community to support the channel should they choose to.

As an Australian, with an audience largely based in the Oceanic territories and timezones, the cost of a subscription at the lowest tier still works out to be approximately $7.00 to $10.00 AUD depending on the exchange rate. The current COVID-19 pandemic has seen our dollar take a massive dive, making the conversion rate astronomically fucked.

When you spend close to $10.00 per subscription, and you’re subbed to five maybe 10 streamers, the cost stacks up and it can be a huge whack on the wallet.

As an alternative measure, I set up a Patreon to act as a cross-platform support/subscription method for those in my community and friends who want to support the stream financially. The amount made has never really bothered me, because I typically use those funds to do something for my community or to improve the stream.

Sure, I could have set up a Patreon alongside of Twitch subscriptions, but that brings me to my next point.

Twitch takes a fifty-percent split from all subscriptions made through Twitch’s subscription service. Now to me, it is what it is – Twitch has to keep the lights on, their network running well and staff to pay. But for my viewers, some have said that they’d rather the funds go to me entirely or at least a bigger portion of it. Because they subscribe to support me as a content creator, not to Twitch.

Twitch’s subscription model previously was simply $5.00 USD a month. Shortly after the affiliate program was launched, it added $10.00 USD and $25.00 USD options, which if you consider the $5.00 USD to AUD conversation rate, you can imagine how insane those higher tiers are.

Even the $5.00 tier is still too expensive for my liking, so I opened my Patreon to provide more flexible payment options for those who want to support the channel financially, with a cap of $10.00 USD being the highest tier.

Now with that fifty-percent split in mind, and Twitch’s decision making in question, I asked myself: why would I want to continue making money for Twitch/Amazon?

About a month prior, I left my full-time job at a large Internet Retail Provider for a plethora of reasons also. See the pattern here? The reasons for this particular termination was the company I worked was, and I have no doubts still is, making business decisions that are very anti-consumer and skirts along the line of being barely legal. I won’t go into the details of it, but it resulted in me no longer wanting to work for this company because efforts to get the company to change its direction were wasted.

The same goes for Twitch, albeit on a lesser scale.

One video that helped me decide

As previously mentioned, I had been undecided as to what to do about the Affiliate program for a six month period, starting with the Alinity fiasco. But then a video released in December by the CMO of N3RDFUSION, Devin Nash, really made some compelling points.

Ignoring the click bait title, the video offers a 30 minute discussion about Twitch’s exclusivity practices, paying streamers for the use of their likeness, and more. Much of this video resonated with what I had already thought about, and was instrumental in me finally making the decision.

Give it a watch.

How to go about leaving the Twitch Affiliate Program

Before I detail what you need to do to leave the Twitch Affiliate program, you need to consider if it’s right for you personally, and as a content creator. Me leaving the Twitch Affiliate Program isn’t meant to spark a revolution, although I would like to see more content creators look at Twitch’s decisions more critically.

At the end of the day, I left because the agreement and the things above in this post no longer work for me. You need to make sure you’re doing this because they no longer work for you too.

1. Write a support ticket to Twitch requesting to terminate the Affiliate agreement

This can be done over at https://help.twitch.tv/s/contactsupport – you should provide at least two weeks notice, just like you would any job.

You don’t necessarily have to explain why you want to leave the program, but you’ll be asked for some account identifiable information such as the channel name and some IDs.

2. Give your community notice, especially subs

Once the Affiliate features are revoked, your subscribers will lose their subscription benefits at the end of their individual renewal periods. It’s a good idea to let your followers and subscribers know so they don’t panic about the change.

3. Add your channel emotes to BTTV/FFZ

Not something you have to do, but if you’re going to miss your emotes on Twitch, this is probably the next best thing for your viewers.

On that note, even if the affiliate features are removed, you’ll still have your own emotes to use globally on Twitch. I still have all of mine, plus the default sub badge in my own channel.

It’s weird, because your account goes into a semi-broken state.

4. For the multi-streamers!

If you’re planning to multi-stream through Restream.io or similar, both Streamlabs and Stream Elements offer coalesced stream widget solutions like alert box, event list, etc.

In order to set this up, your SE/SL account needs to be integrated with all the platforms you plan to use. I’ll probably write up a separate guide, or create a YouTube video on how to do it at some point. Maybe.

The Final Word

I hope this has been insightful for those of you who looked on my announcement about and asked why. For those looking to do the same, I hope this has given you something to think about.

Before I finish up, I do want to thank everyone who reached out to sanity check me, ask questions, and share their own thoughts on leaving the Twitch program. One chap who was incredibly insightful was Shaggy_Steve, who is a gentleman and a scholar.

If you have any questions on it, leave a comment and I’ll respond when possible. Until the next post, stream, or shitpost on Twitter – love you all, and stay safe.