Twitch’s new YouTube, TikTok simulcast policy isn’t a change at all

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Becoming a Twitch partner means many things: additional monetization options, channel customization, a shiny verified badge. For a time, it also meant live-streaming exclusively on Twitch. On Tuesday, the live-streaming platform announced an end to that requirement, though in reality it hadn’t enforced that rule for quite some time.

Yesterday Twitch sent out an email informing partnered streamers that they now have the option to create live content — that is, host streams — on other platforms like YouTube, Facebook, Instagram and TikTok.

“We still believe that Twitch is the best place for creators to build and engage with their community,” the Amazon-owned company wrote. (Amazon’s founder, Jeff Bezos, owns The Washington Post.) “We also recognize that the digital landscape has changed since we first introduced the Partner Program and that many of you engage with your communities in many different places. So we are updating our policy. We will no longer be enforcing this portion of your agreement and will be updating terms early next year.”

Twitch added that streamers are now allowed to simulcast — that is, stream across Twitch and additional platforms at the same time — but only on “short form, mobile services” like TikTok and Instagram. These new stipulations state that while streamers can turn off their Twitch streams and begin broadcasting on YouTube and/or Facebook, they’re not allowed to simulcast on Twitch’s direct rivals: “[We] believe engaging with two streams at once can lead to a suboptimal experience for your community,” reads the email from Twitch to partnered streamers.

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However, current and former Twitch employees tell The Washington Post that Twitch quietly did away with warnings around simulcasting to all platforms months ago and that those rules historically have not been enforced, suggesting they won’t be going forward, either. On Twitter, some partners noted that they’ve been simulcasting for months and have faced no consequences. And as far as Twitch affiliates — one rung down the ladder from partners — are concerned, rules around simulcasting barely existed from a functional standpoint.

“I can confirm as an ex-Twitch admin that up until mid 2019, no affiliate ever got in trouble for multi-streaming, or streaming to other platforms, and after I doubt it ever happened,” tweeted a former Twitch administrator named Nicolas, who goes by the handle “Saysera.”

Twitch did not respond to The Post’s request for comment by press time.

Meanwhile, Devin Nash, co-founder of Novo, a talent and creative agency that has worked with numerous top streamers, pointed out that Twitch partners could always do much of what the company is now characterizing as a loosening of the leash.

“The exclusivity clause always only applied to content being created on Twitch,” Nash said on Twitter, referring to partnered Twitch streamers’ belief that exclusivity meant they were forbidden from live-streaming on competing platforms. “You could always stream on Twitch for an hour, stop your stream and go stream anywhere else. Twitch doesn’t own that content, you do. They’re licensing the content you create on Twitch for 24 hours. … You can stop your stream and stream elsewhere. That’s always been the case. Nothing changed.”

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There are over 8 million streamers on Twitch, tens of thousands of whom are partners. Nash pointed out that it would be very difficult for any company to unilaterally enforce rules against simulcasting at that scale. Instead, he explained, Twitch focuses on top streamers it has locked into pricey exclusive contracts — big names like Imane “Pokimane” Anys and Nick “Nickmercs” Kolcheff — rather than run-of-the-mill partners.

“Affiliate and most partner simulcasting [rules were] always unenforceable, especially on short-form platforms, so this is a genius PR move by Twitch that actually doesn’t cost them anything,” said Nash. “I’m impressed — great marketing here to create a PR event out of nothing really changing.”

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