Influencers flock to platform known for gambling industry ties

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Amazon’s Twitch has helped build the careers of online celebrities who livestream video of themselves for hours at a time and can bring in millions of dollars a year. Now, a controversial new platform is crafting deals and attracting top talent, and it’s dividing the livestreaming industry. 

Félix “xQc” Lengyel and Kaitlyn “Amouranth” Siragusa were two of Twitch’s biggest stars. Between them, they amassed nearly 20 million followers on Twitch alone. But in June, both left the streaming giant for lucrative contracts with a rival platform, Kick, which boasts looser moderation policies and practices. They left amid an exodus of popular Twitch creators that continues despite criticism over the personalities Kick has attracted and reports that it has ties to gambling industry figures and influencers.

Since Amazon acquired Twitch for $970 million in 2014, the platform has enjoyed a near-monopoly on the US streaming market. Business especially boomed during the pandemic. According to The Verge, hours watched jumped 50% from March to April 2020 and 101% year over year. By May 2020, it had reached 1.645 billion hours watched per month. 

While most partnered streamers split their subscription revenue 50/50 with Twitch, some of its biggest creators cut more lucrative 70/30 deals.