Do streamers pay to stream on Twitch?


Quick answer: Streamers do not pay to stream on Twitch.

Twitch is a free platform for streamers and viewers, similar to Youtube.

A streamer can join for free, set up a stream, and be streaming within a few minutes from many types of hardware, including gaming PCs, Consoles, and Mobile phones.

Twitch want streamers to join for free as they do not make content themselves. They rely on streamers to create content for them. So it’s within Twitch’s interest to let as many people try streamers as possible in the hope that, maybe, 1 in 1000 streamers will become super popular and make Twitch a lot of money.

Twitch makes money with:

  • Streamer subscriptions – when viewer buys a subscription to a streamer they like, Twitch take a 50% cut.
  • Twitch Bits – Twitch sells Twitch bits to viewers. These bits can be donated to streamers. The bits are then turned back into cash by Twitch for the Streamer. Twitch makes money by charging 20% extra above the bit’s market value when viewers buy them.
  • Ads – Twitch plays ads before joining streams. Twitch can play ads mid-stream. However, most streamers opt out of this as it disrupts the viewing experience for viewers.

Together these 3 income methods provide Twitch with more than enough income to make their platform free to use for streamers and viewers alike.

However, it’s worth keeping in mind that though Twitch is free to join, there are costs associated with streaming.

The True Cost of streaming on Twitch

Though Twitch does not charge Streamer to stream on their platform, it is not actually free to stream in general.

How can that be the case if I just said Twitch lets streamers stream for free?

Well, you need hardware to stream. And that hardware costs a lot of money.

Here are some of the hardware costs for streaming that you may not have thought about:

  • Mobile phone – If you stream from a mobile phone, you’ll need a powerful smartphone. Yes, you may already have a smartphone. But the extra cost of paying for a gaming smartphone still needs to be factored in when adding up the cost of streaming on Twitch.
  • Game PC or console – If you plan to stream games, you’ll likely need a games console or PC. This means, at a minimum, you’ll be paying the cost of a console. This could be as low as $150 for a used PS4/Xbox One. Or as high as $5,000+ for a high-end gaming PC.
  • Microphone – Sound is one of the most important features of a good quality stream. Poor sound drives people away quicker than poor-quality video. A good microphone, such as the Blue Yeti, will cost you around $100. But a cheap microphone that’ll be good enough can cost as little as $15.
  • Camera – If you plan on showing yourself when streaming, you’ll want to buy a camera. Cameras can cost as much as $100. However, cheap cameras can be bought from Amazon for as little as $20 if you’re willing to buy a no-name brand.
  • Other peripherals – Streaming often demands that you have fancy gaming peripherals such as RGB keyboards and Mice. These are extra costs you may have to consider.
  • Paraphernalia – Ever noticed that your favorite Twitch streamer has loads of great gaming gear in the background? If you want to spruce up your background with gaming goodies, you’ll need to buy them. That’s an extra expense.

That’s a lot of expenses when it comes to hardware. But there are actually a few extra hidden costs when it comes to building a Twitch channel.

  • Electricity – Games consoles and PCs use a lot of electricity. If you are streaming for 5-6 hours a day on a powerful gaming PC, there’s a good chance you are spending $50+ a month just powering that PC. So that’s a hidden cost.
  • Graphics – often Twitch channels have banners and logos. If you don’t have graphic design skills, you’ll need to pay for these to be made to give your channel a professional appearance.
  • Broadband Internet connection/ Mobile 5g connection – If you want to stream over Twitch 4K@60fps, you’ll need a good internet connection. An upload speed of at least 25mb/s is needed for high-resolution streams.

Overall, the financial cost of game streaming on Twitch is actually very high. But it wouldn’t be fair to acknowledge that if you are considering the same streaming, you probably already have some of the hardware needed and a data connection to stream.

But that still doesn’t make streaming free.

And there is one final, vital expense you must factor in:

Time.

Game streaming takes a lot of time. Many streamers often sit for 8+ hours a day in front of their camera, streaming. And that’s not to mention that to be successful as a Twitch streamer, you must spend a lot of time promoting your channel and building it like a business.

That’s a lot of time sunk into one activity. You could spend that time with loved ones, doing more active hobbies, or building a different gaming business such as a Youtube business.

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Nick Sinclair

Having played games since the golden age of the Commodore 64, Nick finally took the plunge and studied Creative Game Design in university. After 3 years of "Study", Nick co-founded a games company where he soon discovered his true calling: writing about games. 11 years later Nick writes about a tower of topics, but gaming is always stacked neatly at the top.

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