In early June 2023, livestreaming platform Twitch announced a major overhaul to its Branded Content Guidelines designed to restrict how individual streamers could present and monetise brand partnerships. The guidelines dictated the size of sponsored logos, and which logos could be displayed, with new restrictions dramatically impacting the ability of streamers to earn money.
Many streamers are only able to monetise their channels through partnerships – and Twitch’s new guidelines appeared to remove this possibility. Backlash to this decision was immediate and immense, with streamers worldwide taking to social media to voice their complaints.
‘I struggle to understand how a company whose growth/success depends on creators doesn’t put more energy into working toward making it easier for creators to do so – not harder,’ streamer Jambo said. ‘Clear communication should not need to be begged for.’
In response to the outcry, Twitch initially claimed the new guidelines were being misinterpreted due to ‘overly broad’ language that caused ‘confusion and frustration’.
‘We do not intend to limit streamers’ ability to enter into direct relationships with sponsors, and we understand that this is an important part of how streamers earn revenue,’ Twitch said, via Twitter. ‘We wanted to clarify our existing ads policy that was intended to prohibit third party ad networks from selling burned in video and display ads on Twitch, which is consistent with other services. We missed the mark with the policy language and will rewrite the guidelines to be clearer.’
Just a single day later, Twitch issued a second apology, and confirmed the updated Branded Content Guidelines will not go into effect.
‘Yesterday, we released new Branded Content Guidelines that impacted your ability to work with sponsors to increase your income from streaming,’ the company announced. ‘These guidelines are bad for you and bad for Twitch, and we are removing them immediately.’
‘Sponsorships are critical to streamers’ growth and ability to earn income. We will not prevent your ability to enter into direct relationships with sponsors – you will continue to own and control your sponsorship business.’
‘We want to work with our community to create the best experience on Twitch, and to do that we need to be clear about what we’re doing and why we’re doing it. We appreciate your feedback and help in making this change.’
Going forward, there is hope Twitch will work more closely with streamers to determine policy changes, and ensure streamers earn fair compensation for their investment in the platform. Given these individuals are contributing directly to Twitch’s bottom line, their voice is essential in future discussions.