Welcome to Last Month in Streaming. This series covers the latest in the Platform Wars, Twitch vs YouTube vs Facebook. It recaps all the biggest highlights from the previous month…new features, developer updates, rumors, analytics, and creator signings… Everything in one place, so you can stay up to date.
[Click here to see the previous, October 2021 edition]
In this November 2021 edition we cover all the new Twitch updates. Including more Affiliate emotes, recurring iOS subs, and the return of Toast.
Meanwhile, YouTube announced two monster signings, Ludwig and CouRage. But should creators be frustrated, as platform development seem to take a backseat?
For its part, Facebook continues to roll out development updates at breakneck speed. In November, these included no-fee mobile subs, holiday bonuses, and tiered sub badges.
Let’s kick things off with a quick recap:
November 2021 Recap
- Affiliates unlock more emotes, up to a maximum of nine
- Animated emotes expand to Affiliates, no longer Partners-only
- Recurring monthly subs now available for iOS mobile viewers
- DisguisedToast returns to Twitch after two-year Facebook hiatus
- Hype train gets upgraded with celebration animations
- Flag potential ban evaders using Suspicious User Detection
- Fresh new UI improves viewer clip experience
- Dislike count removed from videos and livestream content
- CouRage renews contract, streaming exclusively on YouTube
- Top streamer Ludwig signs landmark YouTube deal
- No-fee mobile subs now possible with Facebook Pay
- Earn bonus sub revenue through the holidays
- New tiered loyalty badges identify long-time Supporters
- New earnings breakdown analyzes creator sub income
- Download subscriber emails for offline marketing campaigns
- Celebrate your sub anniversary with highlighted viewer comments
- New Stars Party feature adds hype train functionality
- Level Up program expands to three new countries
It was a much better month for Twitch. After a rough October, Twitch enjoyed a much-needed November rebound.
The platform’s biggest rival, YouTube, seems laser-focused on luring away Twitch’s biggest creators. Meanwhile, Twitch’s budget seems stretched thin. It’s unlikely they’re able to compete with YouTube over top talent. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
In fact, Twitch seems to be doubling-down on its small and mid-sized streamers, as a response. In November, the platform released a number of promising updates and features. These changes empower Affiliates to manage and grow their communities — to an extent not possible (yet) on YouTube and Facebook.
Let’s take a look:
More affiliate emotes
Twitch Affiliates can get their hands on more emotes. In mid-November, Twitch increased the starter slots for new Affiliates from one to five. Plus, they raised the total number of Affiliate emotes to nine — some of which are unlockable.
Previously, all base-level Affiliates began with a single emote. Now you can upload up to five custom emotes, the moment your Affiliate status is official! You’ll unlock even more emotes, as your channel grows and you gain subscribers.
Need a breakdown? Here are the Sub Points you’ll need to reach, before unlocking the final four Affiliate emotes:
- Emote #6 — 15 Sub Points
- Emote #7 — 25 Sub Points
- Emote #8 — 35 Sub Points
- Emote #9 — 50 Sub Points
The new slots carry over to Partners as well, increasing your available emotes. You can read more about the change in Twitch’s official blog post.
Animated emotes for Affiliates
For the first time, Affiliates can start adding animated emotes to their channel too!
Animated emotes launched back in June, but were originally restricted to Partners-only. Now, Affiliates can get in on the action too.
Base-level Affiliates will start with a single animated emote slot. However, they can unlock up to four more by hitting certain milestones:
- Animated Emote #2 — 15 Sub Points
- Animated Emote #3 — 25 Sub Points
- Animated Emote #4 — 35 Sub Points
- Animated Emote #5 — 50 Sub Points
These new emote slots are still rolling out, so don’t panic if you haven’t seen them yet in your dashboard. And if you’re ready to start loading up on animated designs, check out our premade emotes collection.
Recurring subs, now on iOS
For the first time, Apple-users can enjoy monthly automatic subscriptions. That means viewers on iPhone or iPad don’t need to manually resub each month.
Up until this point, Apple-users had to purchase “Sub Tokens”. These tokens could be redeemed for a subscription, but were non-renewing. That meant each month, iOS users had to remember to log in, purchase a token, and redeem it. Otherwise, their sub streak and subscriber benefits would be lost.
Now, Sub Tokens are a thing of the past. iOS users can purchase recurring monthly subs, just like desktop and Android viewers.
To unlock recurring subscriptions, just update the Twitch app on your iPhone or iPad. Any leftover Sub Tokens can still be used, up to January 10th. On that date, Apple will refund your full Token balance. For more details, check out the official blog post.
This is a fantastic, much-needed update. For one, it’s a huge quality of life improvement for mobile viewers. After all, nothing kills a viewer’s motivation more than losing a hard-earned sub streak. It also simplifies the subscription process, providing a consistent experience across desktop and mobile. That means fewer confused viewers, and more subs for creators.
Of course, subscribing from desktop is almost always the better move. That’s because mobile sub prices are more expensive, since they include in-app transaction fees from Apple and Google. For some viewers however, the simplicity of mobile subscribing may be worth the extra cost.
Toast returns to Twitch
In November, Twitch viewers celebrated the return of DisguisedToast. His first few streams back have garnered well over 20,000 viewers each.
Just two years ago, Toast left Twitch for a new home on Facebook Gaming. At the time, the move was a big surprise. After all, Toast had been one of Twitch’s most popular creators. His acquisition by Facebook turned heads — and many began looking at the platform in a new light.
This November, with his Facebook contract expiring, Toast let the world know he was coming home.
Details of the negotiations haven’t yet surfaced. Did Twitch offer a better contract than the last go-around? Or was Toast frustrated by some of Facebook’s limitations — and looking to reconnect with his original audience? Perhaps the answer is some of both.
Either way, the return of DisguisedToast is a big win for Twitch. Not only because of the viewership boost, but also for symbolic reasons. Other platforms can try to take the crown, but top streamers still prefer to broadcast on Twitch — for now at least.
Hype Train celebrations
Hype Trains just got a bit more hype. Twitch has upgraded the feature with some fun new animations.
Now, as your viewers approach the next level, emotes will begin boiling up from behind the meter. Once a level is completed, those emotes will rain down on chat, along with celebration confetti.
Right now, this feature is available to both Affiliates and Partners. Viewers can toggle Celebrations off in their chat settings.
In the end, this is a small, fun update. It’s meant to increase chat participation and channel engagement. Ultimately, the more popular Hype Trains become, the more creators stand to benefit.
Suspicious User Detection
Mods, rejoice! Twitch has launched a new tool to help identify ban evaders. That way you can get early warnings about potential trolls or harassers — and take preemptive action if needed.
What exactly are “ban evaders”? Well, these are users that get banned, but simply create or log into a different account to continue their behavior.
Suspicious User Detection uses machine learning to identify bad actors when they enter your chat. If a user is flagged as suspicious, they are placed into one of two categories:
- Likely: Their messages won’t appear in chat. Creators and mods can choose to leave the restriction as-is, monitor the user, or ban them.
- Potential: Their messages will appear in chat as normal. However, the creator and mods can monitor the account and take action if needed.
It’s not perfect, but it’s a step in the right direction. While harassment and botting continue to be major issues, Twitch seems committed to finding solutions. You can read more about the feature here.
It was a strange month for YouTube.
On the one hand, YouTube signed one of the world’s biggest streamers, Ludwig, to an exclusivity deal. They also renewed their contract with CouRage, 100 Thieves icon and back-to-back Streamer of the Year finalist. On the surface, the platform continues to score PR wins.
On the development side however, creators are still left waiting. It’s been months since any significant feature drop. The team has spoken of its grand plans, but many creators are growing impatient. The lack of development updates is disappointing — especially as Facebook Gaming seems to be rolling out features at lightspeed.
If the rumors are true, December may be a better month for the platform. For one, Head of YouTube Gaming, Ryan Wyatt (aka Fwiz), has hinted that more big creator signings are coming in 2021. Not to mention the introduction of raids (or Live Redirects), which could come this holiday season.
Clips get a UI facelift
Early in the month, YouTube dropped a small quality-of-life improvement. Clips received a much-needed makeover. The new UI makes clips easier to create, view, and interact with.
But there’s a lot of work yet to be done. YouTube clips still lag far behind those on Twitch. For starters, there’s no easy way to find or browse clips from a particular channel. This limits clip shareability and discoverability.
Regardless, this is a positive change. It shows YouTube is continuing to double-down on short-form content, including clips and Shorts. The platform has big plans for clips, including the ability to quickly drop them into shareable Shorts. So while YouTube clips may still be in their infancy, that could all change very soon.
Goodbye, dislike counter
In case you missed it, the dislike count has been officially retired. Well, sort of.
Viewers can no longer see the number of dislikes on video or live content. However, the dislike button still exists, and viewers can still interact with it. Creators can track their like vs dislike analytics in YouTube Studio, as usual.
In a lengthy blog post, YouTube explained the rationale behind the decision. Counts were removed to “help better protect our creators from harassment”. In particular, it protects against “dislike attacks” — coordinated attempts to drive up dislikes by trolls, bots, or rival creators.
The move has been widely controversial. For many, dislike counts worked as an excellent browsing filter, separating good content from the bad. Now viewers have to sit through minutes of video to decide, “is this worth watching, or am I wasting my time?” Even YouTube’s Co-Founder, Jawed Karim, came out publicly against the decision.
The change definitely affects VOD creators more than live-streamers. Regardless, it’s an important update to be aware of, especially if you plan to upload video content in the near future.
CouRage staying on YouTube
Late in the month, Jack “CouRage” Dunlop dropped a big career update. He would continue livestreaming, exclusively on YouTube. His announcement video first teased a return to Twitch, then shot it down cold.
It didn’t surprise anyone. After all, CouRage is one of the faces of YouTube Gaming. His first deal, signed two years ago, kicked off the creator-war between Twitch and YouTube. Now, with his original contract ending, YouTube wasn’t about to let him go.
Ludwig, now streaming on YouTube
Then came the unexpected bombshell. Ludwig, one of Twitch’s top streamers, was moving to YouTube.
For most, it came as a surprise. After all, YouTube’s most recent signings had been TimTheTatman and DrLupo, two veterans of livestreaming. Many assumed another classic creator, like Summit1g or Lirik might be next. Instead, YouTube lured away one of Twitch’s most promising young talents.
A new signing was inevitable. As we suggested last month, Twitch likely paid a big price to keep NICKMERCS on the platform. That left YouTube holding a big bag of cash. Cash it could redeploy to other top talent, like Ludwig.
Will Ludwig’s audience follow him to the new platform? And who will YouTube sign next? Something tells us he won’t be the last major deal of 2021.
Facebook just keeps on rolling. While others focus on Twitch and YouTube drama, Facebook is quietly making gains.
While YouTube fights over top creator signings, Facebook seems to be doubling-down on platform development. In fact, the team has been releasing new updates at breakneck speed. November introduced a host of changes, spearheaded by this bombshell blog update.
At this pace, it may not be long until Facebook challenges Twitch as the most ‘featureful’ livestreaming platform in the western world.
Keep 100% of your mobile sub income
Facebook launched a new initiative to help creators avoid mobile subscription fees.
Up until this point, Facebook creators sacrificed between 15-30% of their mobile earnings. That’s because of in-app transaction fees, required by mobile device manufacturers. So every time a viewer subscribes to your channel on mobile, companies like Apple and Google take a hefty cut. And that means less money for you, the creator.
It’s not just a Facebook issue either. Twitch and YouTube creators face the same problems on mobile. But on Facebook, these fees can be especially painful. That’s because an estimated 80% of all Facebook Gaming viewers are watching from mobile devices!
In November however, Facebook announced a new solution. Viewers can now purchase subscriptions using Facebook Pay, as an alternative to traditional in-app subs. This allows creators to bypass mobile app fees altogether.
Here’s how it works:
- Every creator has been given a personalized Promotional link, which can be found in their Creator Dashboard.
- Creators can share this URL with their audience. Some of the easiest ways to do this include: displaying it in chat, pasting it into your stream description, or featuring it on your channel profile.
- When a viewer clicks this URL, they will be redirected outside the Facebook app. Instead, they’ll land on a Facebook Pay website in their mobile browser.
- Once a viewer has submitted payment, their subscription will process just like normal. Only this time, creators won’t have to give up the usual 15-30% mobile cut.
It’s a clever workaround — and part of the ongoing war between Facebook and Apple. For creators, it means more sub revenue. For their viewers, it means more of their contributions are going directly to creators — not mobile device manufacturers.
It remains to be seen how widely-adopted the feature will be, however. Many—if not most—viewers will continue to prefer easier, in-app subscriptions. Others may be willing to go the extra steps, if it means supporting their favorite creators more effectively.
Break down your sub earnings
Not worried about Apple or Google mobile fees? That might change once you peek into Facebook’s new earnings breakdown.
This new analytics feature allows you to take a microscope to your subscriber income. Now you can see exactly how much you’re losing to in-app transaction fees. You can also see how much of your earnings are going towards estimated taxes.
With this change, creators can better understand their subscription revenue. It will reduce confusion around payouts, while helping creators better manage their finances and taxes. It may also motivate more creators to adopt Facebook Pay subscriptions for mobile — as outlined in the previous section.
Earn bonus cash for new subs
At the same time, Facebook announced a special holiday incentive for creators.
Now through the end of 2021, some creators will earn bonus cash for each new subscriber they receive. Here are the details:
- For now, the program is invite-only
- Creators earn between $5 – $20 for each new fan subscription
- To qualify, new Supporters cannot have subbed to your channel in the previous two months
- Creators can earn a maximum bonus of $10,000
As of yet, we haven’t been able to confirm the size of this promotion. How many creators were included? Was it restricted to Partners, or could Level Up streamers earn cash too?
We’re also unclear as to what determines creator payouts. Who is eligible for the full $20 bonus, versus the minimum $5? Or is it determined by the viewer subscribing?
Regardless, it’s a strong play by Facebook to ramp up activity around the holidays. Streamers will be motivated to stream more often — and will end the year happier and better-compensated. A more active creator economy also means more ad revenue for the platform. And that’s big for Facebook, since advertisers are willing to pay a premium for holiday ad spots.
Email your subscribers
Controversially, Facebook is now allowing creators to download the email addresses of their Supporters. That means creators can market their channel in a whole new way — reaching their biggest fans directly in their email inboxes.
You can find these sub emails in your Creator Studio. As of yet, only new subscribers will auto-enroll to your email list. Existing subs will first have to opt in to share their emails. This can be done from the Supporter hub settings section of your channel page.
This feature has come under heavy fire since being announced. Some have argued it violates viewer privacy, since new subscribers don’t have the option to opt out of emails — at least not yet. After all, many viewers may not want their inboxes flooded with livestream marketing.
On the other hand, this gives creators a brand new engagement tool. There’s no denying, email marketing can be incredibly powerful. If done right, it could keep new viewers tuning in, or bring fans back who have long since tuned out.
In the end, most creators won’t bother with email outreach — either because they lack the time, know-how, or interest. Those that do, however, could tap into a previously-untouched community.
Sub badge tiers are here
Another major announcement was the arrival of tiered loyalty badges. These are special chat badges for channel subscribers — or Supporters as they’re called on Facebook.
Up until now, every Supporter received the same, base badge design. That was true regardless of how long a viewer had been subscribed. It made no difference if you were a 10-month or a two-month Supporter. The same badge would be displayed next to your name in chat as everyone else.
Now, badges will appear different based on the length of your subscription. Look close and you’ll notice each badge carries an identifying marker. Generally, the longer you’ve been a Supporter, the more elaborate your badge design. To get a closer view, you can even click into badges to see just how many months someone has subscribed.
This is an important, much needed change. After all, there’s a reason tiered sub badges exist on both Twitch and YouTube. Viewers want to be recognized for their long-term support. Unique badges offer an instant way for them to stand out in chat — and flaunt their status over newbies. In the end, it incentivizes resubs and first-time subs alike.
Celebrate your sub-versary
One neat little addition is viewer anniversary comments.
Each month on the anniversary of your fan subscription, you’ll unlock a special chat message type. When you first enter chat, you’ll see a festive animation. Then, you’ll have the opportunity to create a highlighted message. This helps you stand out from other chatters — and get noticed by creators.
This is a small change, but a positive one. Special chat privileges are almost always a bonus for streamers and viewers alike. Not only does it honor long-time Supporters, it also incentivizes future subs.
Show us your Stars
In late November, rumors began to circulate of a new feature. It was called a “Stars Party“. And so far, it was only available to a small number of creators.
On the surface, the feature looks a lot like Twitch’s Hype Train. Viewers are encouraged to donate Stars and reach a specific channel goal, for example 3,000 Stars (or around $30 USD). If the goal is hit before a timer runs out, chat earns a special celebration.
If you’re unfamiliar with Stars, they are Facebook’s equivalent to Twitch Bits. Like Bits, they allow viewers to donate directly to a streamer, without needing to use a third-party app. You can read more about them in this guide to Facebook Gaming monetization.
Star Parties haven’t yet been officially announced. However, platform designer Stephen “Hauz” did confirm their existence on Twitter — and added that the feature is slowly rolling out to creators.
Still, there’s very little information to work with at this point. Will there be multiple levels, as with Hype Train? What sort of rewards should streamers and viewers expect? And will it be available to Level Up creators, or just Partners? We’ll need to wait for the official announcement to find out.
Level Up keeps expanding
Late in October, Facebook’s Level Up program expanded to a host of new countries — 11 in total. The announcement was met with major applause.
More recently, Level Up added three more participating countries, Mongolia, Nepal, and Slovenia. This is fantastic news for creators from these areas. It opens up new new monetization and growth opportunities, previously inaccessible.
If you’re unfamiliar, Level Up works a lot like Twitch’s Affiliate program. Once a channel is eligible, it unlocks key features like Fan Subscriptions, Stars, and in-stream ads. Among other tools, Level Up also offers 1080p 60fps streaming options.
With all these benefits, it’s easy to see why international creators are getting excited about Level Up’s expansion. The more the program expands, the more Facebook can compete with Twitch on a global stage. And more competition is always good for creators and viewers.
Not sure if your country is included in the program? Check your eligibility here.
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