Twitch forced into u-turn over ‘bad’ branded content guidelines

by | Jun 13, 2023 | News

Amazon-owned streamer Twitch has been forced into an embarrassing u-turn after attempted changes to branded content rules met with a creator backlash.

The problems began last week when Twitch unilaterally announced new guidelines on how the platform’s users could display sponsorships, endorsements and other paid promotions. Widely interpreted as an attempt to secure a larger share of the ad revenue pie, the changes provoked immediate resistance.

A day after introducing the new rules, Twitch reversed its decision, saying: “Yesterday, we released Branded Content Guidelines that impacted your ability to work with sponsors to increase your income from streaming. These guidelines are bad for you and bad for Twitch, and we are removing them immediately.”

At the heart of the problem was the use of “burned in” ads – ie ads that are super-imposed directly onto creator video streams. This practice has become a key lifeline for Twitch users – but represents a stream of revenue that Twitch can’t get its hands on. Under the new branded content guidelines, such ads would have become effectively prohibited, with the exception of tiny onscreen images.

Exacerbating the anger among Twitch users was the platform’s announcement that the new rules would take effect on July 1. For many creators, this would have directly impacted on sponsorship deals already in place.

Twitch’s spat with its users comes at a difficult time for the platform. In March, the platform laid off 400 staff because of the tough economic climate. It is also facing competition from challenger platform Kick. Kick, an online platform and challenger platform, has managed to woo several high-profile Twitch users by offering better commercial terms and more freedom of speech – another area that has proved problematic for Twitch.

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