Twitch Leak and the truth about Live Streaming | Sunday Observer

Twitch Leak and the truth about Live Streaming

17 October, 2021

Earlier last week, an anonymous hacker leaked the entirety of Twitch to the internet, publicly disclosing every detail relating to the streaming platform, including its source code, internal team tools and unreleased products. The hacker has claimed his intention behind the leak to be to “foster more disruption and competition in the online video streaming space” and Twitch themselves have confirmed the leak to be legitimate. However, one of the most prominent parts of the historic leak that caught the internet’s attention is Twitch’s user payout information, which highlighted the until now private information on how much a Twitch streamer earns directly from the streaming platform. While the vast majority of streamers were unsurprisingly unremarkable, over 80 of the top streamers listed in the document seems to have been paid over one million dollars since 2019 by Twitch, including notable creators like xQcOW($8.4 mil.), ludwig($3.2 mil.), and Asmongold($2.5 mil.).


While the leak itself shows substantial payouts earned by their creators, it should be noted that it is only a portion of a streamer’s income, covering only what they would earn from the platform itself, through means such as subscriptions and Bit donations. For the vast majority of bigger streamers, the bigger part of their income comes from other means, such as brand deals, sponsors, merchandise and other means of donations. The true value of these private transactions are impossible to know, but it is a well known fact that these other means are their primary means of making money, a fact corroborated by many popular streamers like Pokimane and streamers from other platforms.

However, while this leak highlights the great potential for profitability from streaming, it is not the reality for the majority. With over eight million active streamers on Twitch, the creators receiving large payouts as covered by the leak are less than 0.01 percent of the total number of streamers. For most, the money earned from streaming does not even amount to a liveable wage, with most doing live streams in addition to a full time job.


More disparities are also highlighted by the leak, such as the observable gender inequalities in the streaming space. The general idea cultivated among the majority male streaming audiences before the leak was that female streamers, typically attractive women, were undeservedly stealing attention and success from ‘legitimate’ male streamers, typically male gamers.

The leak disproved this myth, with only three out of the top 100 creator payouts on Twitch being for female streamers. This issue has always been a great barrier for women to get into streaming, and the backlash from the majority male streamers and their audiences have only been making things more difficult.

Difficult job

Live streaming is an incredibly difficult job to make into a career, requiring incredible talent, dedication and luck to build enough of a consistent audience to sustain yourself. It is also a volatile career that could easily be snatched away at any moment for reasons beyond a creator’s control, such as if the platform they have cultivated their audience on discontinues or changes direction in a way that harms their content, or simply if their audience loses interest.

But making a living out of live streaming continues to be a dream for many creators amongst all streaming platforms, such as Facebook, Youtube and many more. Its highly accessible nature makes it an attractive prospect for anyone from anywhere to try their hand at growing an audience, especially under the restrictions of Covid-19.