Twitch Competitor Kick Hits 1M Users Thanks To Crypto Casino Ties
A series of contentious policy changes made by Twitch has led to the migration of popular streamers to other platforms, with Kick emerging as a trendy landing spot for big-named personalities. With an impressive sprint to 1 million registered users in just 69 days, the streaming platform has demanded the industry’s attention.
However, rumblings about Kick’s involvement with online casinos have onlookers expressing skepticism about the platform’s ulterior motives and sustainability. In addition, the association with prominent crypto casino Stake.com has raised concerns about transparency and the potential influence of the gambling industry on the rising streaming platform.
This article discusses Kick’s quick rise, the growing list of streamers who’ve migrated to the platform, and what their links to Stake could bring to the live-streaming industry.
The blog post that kickstarted the streamer migration
A September 2022 blog post by Twitch president Dan Clancy started it all, announcing upcoming policy changes to the platform’s subscription revenue split. From June 2023 onward, select streamers with special agreements giving them a 70/30 revenue share can only enjoy the favorable split for the first USD$100,000, with anything over that subject to a 50/50 share.
While only a tiny fraction of Twitch content creators have those pre-existing agreements, the 70/30 split motivated smaller Twitch streamers. Of course, popular content creators with millions of subscribers immediately voiced their displeasure with the policy changes. Tyler “TrainwrecksTV” Niknam was one of the loudest voices and first proponents of moving to Kick, releasing a series of streams and tweets highlighting why Kick is a much more favorable streaming platform.
Following weeks of speculation from fans and industry observers, he would eventually admit to having a non-ownership advisory role with the new platform.
Kick’s growing streamer migration
As of this writing, Adin Ross is the latest big-named content creator to jump ship from Twitch to Kick. After floating the idea around for a while, Ross finally made the move official, releasing a parody video of LeBron James’ “The Decision.” Before the announcement, Ross said he needed “more money” to move full-time to Kick. And while he may have gotten what he wished for, Twitch threatening Ross with an indefinite ban certainly didn’t help the Amazon-owned company’s cause.
Twitch’s non-transparent Terms of Service has recently been the subject of streamer backlash. And Ross implied that the streaming platform’s propensity for ambiguous bans significantly influenced his decision. “There are no Terms of Service over there,” Ross said during a broadcast, referring to Kick. “You guys can say whatever you want in my chat. Nobody can get […] banned.”
Ross broadcast his first Kick stream on February 12, 2023, attracting 82,000 viewers. According to Ross, other prominent Twitch streamers who could follow his lead include the following:
- Kai Cenat
- IShowSpeed (permanently banned from Twitch)
On February 24, 2023, Kick welcomed popular OnlyFans model Corinna Kopf to the platform. “HONEY IM HOMEEEEE,” Kopf replied to the tweet announcing her partnership with Kick. Following the announcement, she gained 17,000 Kick followers in just 24 hours. Observers expect that number to soar when Kopf hosts her first Kick stream.
On top of the growing list of content creators taking their talents to Kick, multi-Grammy award-winner Drake is set to host a series of live-streamed events on Kick as part of his partnership with Stake. The series Drake vs. Stake awarded USD$1 million in crypto during the first two events.
The influx of famous personalities has paid dividends for Kick, allowing it to reach a million-user milestone faster than massive platforms like Facebook, Spotify, and Netflix. The Kick account tweeted the time it took those platforms to get one million users compared to them.
And as the upstart live-streaming space continues to build its credibility by signing big names, its user base can only be expected to grow further.
The rise of online casinos and crypto bets
Twitch announced its gambling ban in September 2022, prohibiting broadcasts of online casino games that aren’t licensed in the US. The initial list of banned sites included Stake.com, Duelbits, and Rollbit. In years prior, content creators have attracted droves of viewers by streaming online casino games. The gambling ban and revenue split policy changes announced in the same month gave Kick leverage to poach Twitch’s content creators.
In 2022, online casino revenue in the US grew and reached USD$5 billion – a massive 35.2% growth that’s even more impressive considering the limited number of States where it is legal. Currently, online casinos are legal in just six states. These include the following:
- New Jersey
- West Virginia
Meanwhile, the legal sports betting market has been expanded to 36 states and the District of Columbia. The American Gaming Association projects an 11.49% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) over the next five years. This would bring online gambling’s market value in the US to $145.6 billion by 2030.
Online casinos’ popularity has skyrocketed due to the convenience and optimal user experience offered by platforms like Stake. In addition, the adoption of cryptocurrency by online casinos gives users a more secure, albeit less regulated, payment method. One study found an increase in crypto bets from 2021 to 2022, with 70% of those wagers using Bitcoin. Non-profit Ohio for Responsible Gambling estimates that 50% of all Bitcoin transactions involve gambling.
Top 3 reasons streamers are moving to Kick
Kick has the benefit of learning from Twitch and offering creators what they can’t get from the latter. Below are the three primary reasons content creators leave the leading live-streaming platform.
- Significant subscriber revenue share
Foremost is the incredible 95-5 revenue split favoring content creators. As mentioned earlier, Twitch offers a 50-50 share, with a fraction of content creators enjoying deals for a 70-30 split. Meanwhile, YouTube Live has a standard subscription revenue split of 70-30.
According to Niknam, Kick’s partner program provides streamers with a payout based on factors that include the following:
- Number of streaming hours
- A flat rate determined by advertising cost per 1,000 impressions (this is currently budgeted by Kick until ads take over)
- The average number of viewers
- Viewer demographics and engagement
Niknam has continued to express his distaste for Twitch’s policies, firing off a series of tweets highlighting the benefits of Kick. In one tweet, he said that if platforms take 50% of creators’ subscription revenue, they need to treat them “like the royalty that they treat their contracted group of teacher’s pets with,” referring to the small portion of Twitch streamers getting the favorable revenue split.
In addition to the significantly more favorable subscription revenue split, Kick allows content creators to get 100% of the tips they earn.
2. Twitch’s arbitrary bans
Twitch’s indefinite ban was what pushed Ross to jump ship. Observers speculate that the threat had something to do with Ross’ content regarding controversial media personality Andrew Tate. According to Ross, the platform banned him for “no reason.” “How do you ban someone on Twitch… for video on demand (VOD) or on-stream when I haven’t even been streaming there?” he ranted during one of his broadcasts.
Ross isn’t the first content creator to complain about Twitch’s enforcement of its Terms of Service. Before leaving for Kick, Niknam said Twitch targeted him because of his deal with Stake. So far, Ross has pushed the limits of his newfound freedom on Kick, streaming explicit material and encouraging his fans to say anything on his chat.
3. Twitch’s gambling ban
On top of that, streaming online casino games have become a boon for content creators in recent years. Kick’s affiliation with premier online casino Stake allows streamers to keep earning from broadcasting gambling-related content, which they could no longer do on Twitch after it announced its gambling ban in September 2022.
The popularity of online casino games, including those that involve cryptocurrencies, has led to many top streamers becoming affiliates of online casinos like Stake.com. And while there is no official partnership between Stake and Kick, the involvement of top streamers who are affiliates of the online casino platform has led to speculation about the extent of the gambling industry’s influence on Kick. Australian billionaire Eddie Craven, a co-owner of Stake, is also a Kick investor.
During what many referred to as “crypto winter,” Craven tweeted that almost 6% of all Bitcoin transactions were used to wager on Stake. Currently, the online casino has over 3,000 games accepting crypto bets. Apart from Bitcoin, it also accepts other currencies like Binance, Ripple, and Tron. Crypto gambling is projected to reach USD$93 billion in 2023.
A brief history of gambling and live streaming
Gambling-related streams began gaining traction on Twitch in 2018 as sketchy channels with inflated viewer counts advertised online slots. It didn’t take long for notable streaming personalities to enter the scene, such as Ishmael “Roshtein” Swartz, Félix “xQc” Lengyel, and Niknam. Before Twitch’s gambling ban, “Trainwrecks” claimed he earns over USD$1 million from online gambling, with Ross reportedly bagging a similar amount.
Twitch’s gambling policy change prohibited sharing gambling site links and referral codes. A released statement said this was to “prevent harm and scams created by questionable gambling services that sponsor content on Twitch.”
Apart from the big names moving to the platform, Kick has been making the news from controversial content broadcast by content creators. As alluded to earlier, Ross tested the leniency of Kick’s Terms of Service by opening an adult website while streaming. While he didn’t play any videos, he stayed on the page for about 10 seconds before closing the browser. Fans and observers waited intently to see if Ross would receive a temporary ban. He did not.
Another famous Twitch star, however, took things too far. Heelmike received a one-day ban after appearing to engage in sexual activity on stream. Instead of protesting, the streamer gave a shoutout to Kick, referring to the up-and-coming platform as the “GOAT” because it reaches out to creators to tell them what they did wrong.
TheDanDangler went viral after a clip of her showing a sex toy while streaming came out. In response to the video tweet, the streamer clarified she wasn’t unclothed, as the video blurring her from the waist down implied and did not use the toy. Meanwhile, a Kick streamer received a one-day ban for broadcasting the Jake Paul vs. Tommy Fury fight audio.
While streamers are pushing the boundaries of what Kick will allow on its platform, the controversial broadcasts effectively show Kick’s commitment to opening lines of communication with content creators. And though they’re toeing a tricky line, it’s giving the platform an advantage over Twitch in the short term.
Twitch viewership dips 9.4%
As alternative broadcast spaces push for a more significant share of the live-streaming industry, overall viewership on Twitch declined 9.4% year-over-year. This number includes hours watched and average concurrent viewers. In addition, the average number of channels streaming went down for the streaming giant, which has had a stranglehold on the live-streaming space for over a decade.
In the face of talent poaching from YouTube, Facebook Gaming, and Kick, Twitch has refused to counter by offering massive deals to its content creators. Over the past 12 months, actively partnered streamers dropped 5.4%, while active affiliate streamers dropped 9.3%. As rival platforms continue to aim for bigger slices of the live-streaming pie, Twitch will have its work cut out for them in 2023.
On top of this, the growing number of disgruntled Twitch content creators could open up opportunities for its rivals to build on its user base. Should the platform’s user experience for both viewers and content creators deliver, Twitch could find its hold on the throne finally threatened.
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