Every Streaming Service Sucks Because There’s No Money In It

Parallax Abstraction
6 min readJun 15, 2023
Streamer Twitter in a nutshell.

Kick is a scam (and possible money laundering front), started because Twitch banned promoting gambling to children.

Trovo is owned by CCP puppet Tencent and making a living on it is a near impossible grind.

Glimesh is shutting down after launching effectively stillborn.

Facebook Gaming is stagnant and all signs point to it eventually closing.

Twitch is flailing and fumbling around trying to appease Amazon and just angering everyone.

Oh, and let’s not forget Mixer.

In the almost six years (!) I’ve been streaming, I’ve seen many creators come and go and even more bounce between services like pachinko balls, hoping the new flavour of the month is where they’ll finally make it big. Inevitably, the ones that don’t quit all end up back on Twitch once they realize the bandwagon wasn’t worth it. Some learn from this, most don’t.

The question I never see anyone asking is why it’s like this. Why does every alternative streaming service either fail or have shady or outright scummy backers? The answer is simple: There is no money in running a streaming service.

Twitch doesn’t make money. Neither does YouTube. People refuse to believe this because they assume that they’re so large and since a fraction of a percent of their creators are millionaires, they must be raking it in. But people who know a lot better than you or I agree with me, and it’s not just those sites either. They were bought by Amazon and Google respectively because they were they were in death spirals with no plan to get out of them. Despite the cost of things like cloud storage and bandwidth continuing to decrease, they aren’t going down fast enough to make up for the increases brought on by increased viewership and ad rates going off a cliff because young people don’t pay attention to ads anymore.

The rare times that Amazon and Google talk about the financials of these sites, it’s about revenue and not profit. Revenue is how much money you brought in. Profit is how much you kept after all the bills are paid. Public companies love to brag about profits and if they don’t, it’s because there aren’t any.

People want everything on the Internet to be free, but they also don’t want to see ads and are increasingly either blocking them or just tuning them out. And the thing is, that isn’t just entitlement. Bottomless pits of clueless venture capital money have been shovelled into the furnace for years on end to create that environment. Our collective perception of value has been significantly distorted into a belief that just because something’s popular, it must also be financially successful, but it’s just not true. Is that our fault as the users? No, but ultimately, we’re the ones who will be expected to pay for it, one way or the other.

Like many Internet business models, streaming was founded on the principal of “launch and grow first, figure out profit later” and has yet to do the second part. With an economy on the precipice of a reckoning, the investors that kept throwing money at the industry are starting to get nervous and want their investments to start profiting. It’s the same reason Reddit is going through what it is right now. Companies don’t exist to lose money — though it may seem that way sometimes — so they either have to figure out how by altering the deal like Twitch is trying to do or by basing themselves on a scummy model where the profit comes not from streaming itself, but from what they can use streaming to drive people to. In Kick’s case, that’s gambling and taking a wild west approach to the medium, which has already turned their site into a cesspool.

I see streamers getting pissed off at these changes and purposeful drama aside, I’m not unsympathetic. It sucks to have the deal altered on you suddenly. However, the number of people in this space (including big players) who have no clue about the business realities behind the platforms they are reliant on has become frustrating. They’re fine to be ignorant of the realities when times are good, but the second they aren’t, many become armchair CEOs. They’ll say things like “Amazon has plenty of money!”, not realizing that you don’t get piles of money by pumping it down a sinkhole, hoping it’ll one day start to overflow. Make no mistake, Amazon won’t let Twitch flounder forever and despite how huge it is, both in numbers and cultural influence, they won’t hesitate to do to it what Microsoft did to Mixer once their patience runs out.

I honestly wonder if live streaming is just not long for this world. We all do it for different reasons, not the least of which is the social element, especially for the smaller channels like mine. But that does not a sustainable business make. Glimesh tried to focus on the social element first and the money second, and no one showed up for it. Kick is pushing the money element hard, but they’re doing it in a way that’s either unsustainable, relies on super unethical methods, or perhaps both. We don’t know because they won’t say. All of these services will one day go away if they can’t figure out a sustainable path forward and none of them care about the social elements and communities they’ll take down with them. Corporations don’t care about us and we need to remember that.

Having watched at least a half dozen “exodus events” going back to the Mixer days, what I see is people willing to jump on the new hotness, thinking this is where they’ll strike it big, get noticed and get rich. I’ll tell you all what I told you then because I’m still right: Success in content creation is at least 90% pure luck. You can be the best streamer or YouTuber in the world, but there are literally millions of others who think the same way who an algorithm might favour that day. There are a ton of creators who are objectively worse at this than I am who have become super popular and many more who are substantially better than I am who have stayed even smaller. It’s not fair, it’s not encouraging, but it’s reality.

If you know all this, accept it and are still willing to give it a go or just don’t care about the growth, then have at it. I no longer care about growth and will keep doing this until I don’t think it’s worth it any more. All these recent events have shown me is how bad of a career path this has become. If you’re one of those people who see this as a path to fame and fortune, you should probably go buy a bunch of lottery tickets because you’ll probably have better odds with those. It’s the same mentality as people who keep electing politicians that lower taxes on the rich because they’re certain one day, they’ll be one of those people too. You have better odds of getting struck by lightning multiple times in the same storm.

Jumping onto every new platform, leaving most of your community behind and dragging a few regulars along with you is a way to alientate people, not inspire their fandom. I can rant your ear off about everything that’s wrong with Twitch, but I’m not playing platform hopscotch, especially not with scummy sites like Kick and Trovo. If Twitch goes away, then so will my streams. If you’re focusing on getting rich and famous first and community second, no number of new platforms is going to fix the fundamental flaw in your thinking.

Make progress, not excuses.

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Parallax Abstraction

Gamer, variety/indie/retro Twitch streamer/YouTuber, pet parent, IT ninja and much more. I'm not opinionated, I'm just always right!