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Twitch apologise for running ads for other streamers

Twitch have apologised for approving running commercials promoting megastar streamers during other folks’ streams. Turns out, streamers didn’t much like having their own Twitch channels promoting the idea of watching someone else. Who could have guessed? Twitch say they will “avoid” doing it again, which is a vague commitment. That’s how it goes when you’re a media platform which gained mainstream attention through a handful of homegrown celebrities and, while you enable some people’s livelihoods, you don’t employ the vast majority of those reliant on you or have much interest in individuals.

The livestreaming site’s first ads oopsie was in December. The site’s standard ad spaces included promos for a New Year’s Eve livestream sponsored by Red Bull and hosted by Tyler “Ninja” Blevins. Y’know, the boring fella who’s good at Fortnite and has broken into mainstream awareness by going on telly with Ellen DeGeneres and playing Fortnite with Drake. Y’know, the former teen heartthrob now known for singing about why women shouldn’t date him. Given that Ninja is the biggest and best-known Twitch streamer, showing ads for him on other Twitch channels was: 1) pointless; 2) riling to other streamers who’d rather people watch their streams thank you very much.

This month, Twitch’s ad rotation included promotion for an American handegg stream hosted over the weekend by Imane “Pokimane” Anys. Following a similar but more frustrated backlash, they now say they’ve listened.

Twitch said in yesterday’s statement that they believed the ads “help spotlight exciting events taking place on-site with some of our creators.” Which is true, and entirely beside the point.

[Note: It is galling that the industry has somehow got away with the term “creators” -ed.]

“We recognise those good intentions caused concern across our broader Twitch creators that these advertisements may drive their audiences elsewhere, and that we had unintentionally created a potentially negative impact with our efforts,” they explained.

Sure, those are good intentions – for the two streamers who get those ads everywhere. And while that “potentially negative impact” may have been unintentional, it was also entirely predictable with even a few seconds of thought. You’d have to be daft beyond belief to not see the downside.

Twitch don’t care about most individual streamers. They may pay partnered streamers a share of ads and subscription fees from their fans, but they don’t employ them. Twitch grew big on the idea that anyone could live the dream (hah!) of playing video games all day, but now it’s grown a few megastars–and been bought by the evil megacorp Amazon–individuals aren’t as important to the company.

As for those of us who stream mostly for funsies and don’t run ads or have subscribers, ah, who cares about us? We’re just filler, profitable for a handful of ad views and the chance that perhaps our viewers might get hooked on those megastars and start paying out with subscriptions and donations.

“We always want you to hold us accountable, and we’re glad you are here,” Twitch said. “We removed the most recent ad and will avoid running advertisements in the future for on-site events and/or creators that potentially drive your viewers to other Twitch channels.”

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Alice O'Connor

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When not writing news, Alice may be found in the sea.

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