Twitch’s new boost feature encourages viewers to pay for advertising

"These types of placements come with a cost"

Twitch, owned by Amazon, is trialing a new ‘Boost’ feature, available in beta only to a limited number of creators, that will allow channel viewers to purchase advertising by promoting streamers on Twitch’s front page.

Boosting isn’t entirely new. It was trialed in December 2020, when viewers could use Channel Points, a currency earned by watching a stream, to promote their favourite channels on the front page. This new iteration of Boosts will require viewers to use real money to purchase them.

Twitch’s product manager, Jacob Rosok, read a statement outlining the fan-funded advertising model in Twitch’s most recent patch notes community stream.

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“What we’re doing with Boosts is giving viewers the ability to buy super high visibility promotions for their favourite creators,” said Rosok. “We think this is a great way to show support”

However, some Twitch streamers disagree. Twitch partner Serge Yager tweeted: “Definitely not a fan of the direction this is going.” Another partner, LowcoTV, tweeted: “Streamers do not receive any revenue earned from viewers paying to boost.”

A lack of discoverability on Twitch is often cited as one of the main complaints from streamers on the platform. One Twitch Ambassador, BloodyFaster, has accused Boosts of being an exploitative business model.

Boosts will only be available for a ten-minute period. “Community members can pay to make the Boost as big as they’d like,” Rosok said. “We’ll call out to the community who’s made a purchase and show exactly how many recommendations the community has unlocked as the purchases roll in.”

The gamified implementation of boosts could be seen as quite predatory, as the language used by Rosok suggests it will encourage a frenzy of purchases as communities try to unlock the biggest boost possible.

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Twitch is reportedly losing streamers due to “low ball” contracts and is also launching new verification tools in a bid to combat increasing hate raids which led to the #ADayOffTwitch protests.

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