Twitch is the place to be for those loving the social side of gaming. Some of the world’s top gamers demonstrate their skills for their fans on their Twitch channel, many on an almost full-time basis. The top Twitch streamers can do this because they can make a healthy income from playing games and commentating on their progress.
It is perhaps surprising that quite a few of Generation Z are more entertained by watching others play games than playing themselves. Clearly, this indicates that the more popular Twitch streamers can skillfully entertain their fans. The viewers are there more for the commentary and conversation than they are for the fun of the game.
Twitch has grown in popularity, and there are now more than 3.3 million broadcasters per month, an increase of 63.5% over the last year. There is 48 billion minutes’ worth of Twitch broadcasts watched every month. At any moment in time, more than 1.1 million viewers watch Twitch, with nearly 4 million viewers at busy times.
Influencer Marketing Hub can give you an indication of the media value of any Twitch channel along with the likely cost of buying a sponsorship for that channel. These values weigh up numerous factors, but effectively indicate the level of influence of the chosen Twitch channel. The tools below are not official Twitch tools and are not in any way associated or endorsed by Twitch. The Influencer Marketing Hub developed this tool to provide media value earning potential guidelines to Twitch streamers and brands considering working with them. Below is an estimation of the highest paid Twitch Streamers followed by our Twitch Money Calculator.
Estimated Media Value by Channel
How Much do Twitch Streamers Make?
Sources of Income for Twitch Streamers
In How to Make Money on Twitch, we discussed the primary income sources available to Twitch streamers. Any Twitch streamer has the chance to make money through any combination of the following:
- Affiliate Links
- Selling Customized Merchandise
- Tournament Winnings
Although all of the above forms of income are technically available to any Twitch streamer, you would, in reality, have to have a reasonable audience (or be an exceptionally skilled gamer) to make money using these tactics.
In reality, if you were to be successful at earning money with any of the above methods, you probably would have at the least meet the criteria to be a Twitch Affiliate:
- Stream for at least 500 minutes in the last 30 days
- Steam on at least seven days in the last 30 days
- Receive an average of three concurrent viewers per stream
- Grow your audience to 50 followers
If you meet these criteria, Twitch will automatically invite you to become an Affiliate. This will give you a few more earning opportunities:
- Twitch Bits
- Twitch Subscriptions
- Sell games, in-game items, and T-shirts from their Twitch page
Twitch has an additional level it bestows its best streamers – Twitch Partners. However, the Twitch Partnership program is exclusive - invitation only. In addition to all of the previously mentioned ways to make money, Twitch Partners can:
- Run video ads
That may not seem like a huge benefit in itself, but there are many other non-moneymaking benefits from being able to call yourself a Twitch Partner.
The Top 10 Twitch Streamers Earn More than $20M Per Year
Twitch is an extremely lucrative source of income for the top streamers. Many of the top Twitch streamers are also talented professional e-sport players, too, and the combination makes them powerful influencers to their gaming/viewing fans.
It is estimated that the top 10 Twitch streamers gross over $20 million between them.
It is important to remember these are not your stereotypical gaming bums who spend all day playing games and never find a job. They may look like the stereotype, but in reality, they are shrewd business people, who have found a way to maximize the potential of their gaming talents.
However, Twitch streamers are more than just gamers. They are entertainers. The commentaries and conversations are more critical to the viewers than any natural gaming ability. You don’t have to win every game to be a successful Twitch streamer. The fans come to the Twitch channels for the entertainment experience. Moreover, they pay for what they like.
Twitch Affiliates and Partners can earn a portion of the money people pay to subscribe to their channels. Affiliates can provide their subscribers with a single Sub Emote to use in the chat room. However, Twitch Partners can unlock up to 50 Sub Emotes to act as an incentive for people to subscribe at the higher levels.
Viewers can opt for one of three subscription levels - $4.99, $9.99, or $24.99. The streamer and Twitch share the subscription income, initially with a 50:50 split. Large broadcasters often receive a higher percentage of the subscription revenue, however, up to 100% in some cases.
One of the most significant benefits of subscriptions to streamers is that it provides them with a recurring income. They will continue to receive their share of a subscription payment until the subscriber actively cancels the subscription.
Successful streamers can make $3,000 to $5,000 per month from their subscribers, with the top broadcasters earning substantially more.
Bits and Cheers
Bits are Twitch’s virtual currency. Channel subscriber can buy Bits and redeem them for a range of emotes they can use to Cheer in their favorite streamers’ chatrooms. There is a range of animated emoji (called Bit gems and Cheernotes), worth varying amounts of bits. These range from a small gray Bit gem worth one bit, up to large red highly animated star Bit gems worth 10,000 bits each. Cheernotes are slightly different, as individual streamers customize these. However, they primarily work the same way.
Whenever a fan uses a Bit gem or Cheernote, Twitch pays the broadcaster at the rate of one cent per Bit.
Sale of Games and In-Game Items on Twitch
Although the direct sale of games and in-game items was initially limited to Twitch Partners, it has more recently been expanded to include Twitch Affiliates. Both Affiliates and Partners can earn a 5% share of the revenue from purchases that originate from their channel page.
When a broadcaster streams a game that is available on Twitch, an offer to buy the game or in-game items automatically appear on the channel page in an area just below the video window. Whenever one of the viewers takes up the offer, the streamer gets paid 5% of the purchase amount.
Twitch ads operate in a similar way to those on YouTube. However, only Twitch Partners can share in the revenue from the ads. According to CNBC, advertising revenue averages about $250 per 100 subscribers, making it very lucrative for those with millions of followers.
Twitch offers standard IAB pre-roll and display advertising opportunities. They pay streamers according to the CPM model — for every 1000 views.
One thing that has reduced ad income of late has been the rise in ad blocking. However, streamers do often ask their fans to turn off Ad Block to help them.
CPM prices are highly seasonal, and the CPM price can vary significantly at different times of the year, form $2 to $10 per 10000 views. June, October, November, and December are the months when advertisers pay the most for advertising spots.
Advertising rates differ for each streamer. Twitch drafts an individualized contract with each partnered streamer defining their personal rates and rewards. It also includes a confidentiality clause, making it difficult to establish the exact amounts that streamers earn from advertising.
Winning Prize Money
Although much of the appeal of Twitch streaming is the entertaining commentaries from the streamers, many of the broadcasters are highly skillful players. Some of them play in profession e-sports leagues. E-Sports are enormous and even enjoy dedicated television channels.
These broadcasters can make good money from winning their championship games, over and above the money, they earn from their Twitch streams.
Kuro "KuroKy" Takhasomi has a reasonable following on Twitch with 12,186 followers, although this is much smaller than the top streamers who have millions of followers. He probably doesn’t make an enormous amount of money from the regular Twitch income earning methods. However, as captain and support player at Team Liquid Dota 2, he performs very well in e-Sports Championships. Indeed he has the highest overall earnings from e-Sports playing - $4,097,926.95. Over half of this ($2,172,536.60) came from winning The International (TI7) in 2017.
KuroKy has won 37 gaming tournaments, been runner-up in 13 tournaments, and made it to 3rd place or semis in a further 18 tournaments over the last decade. He is considered a top five Dota player of all time.
Estimated Earnings of the Top Twitch Streamer
The Twitch channel with the most followers is that of Ninja, aka Richard "Tyler" Blevins, who currently has nearly 12 million followers. He plays and streams the incredibly popular Fortnite game.
Mediakix has estimated how much money Ninja makes from the various types of Twitch income sources. They calculate that Ninja has a yearly estimated revenue of $5,417,447, made up of:
- Subscription - $3,955,571
- Ad - $509,521
- Bit Donations - $316,354.92
- Average Sponsorship - $600,000
- Average Estimated YouTube Compensation - $36,000
These numbers may overestimate his earnings, however. Twitchstats suggest he “only” earned $19,577.10 from Bit Donations this last September, and there were months when he earned less than $10,000.
Regardless of the exact amount, it is likely that Ninja is financially very comfortable, just from playing games, and talking as he plays.
Frequently Asked Questions
How can you make money on Twitch?
Twitch streamers can make money through a combination of affiliate links, selling customized merchandise, donations, sponsorship, and tournament winnings. All these forms are available to all Twitch streamers, but to make money using these tactics you need to have access to a reasonable audience or be an exceptionally skilled gamer.
How do I become a Twitch Affiliate?
There are four criteria that you must meet to become a Twitch Affiliate. Firstly, you have to stream for at least 500 minutes in the last 30 days. Secondly, you must stream on at least seven days in the last 30 days. Thirdly, you must receive an average of three concurrent viewers per stream. Lastly, you must have grown your audience to 50 followers. Twitch will automatically invite you to become an Affiliate if you meet these four criteria.
How much money does the top Twitch streamer make?
At the time of writing this article, Ninja (aka Richard “Tyler” Blevins) has the Twitch channel with the most followers. He has almost 12 million followers who follow how he streams himself playing the popular Fortnite game. It is estimated, according to Mediakix, that his revenue per year is $5,417,447. Most of this he made from subscription, followed by Ad ($509,521), and Bit Donations ($316,354,92). Though, Twitchstats suggested that he earned only $19,577.10 from Bit Donations.
How does Twitch’s subscription revenue work?
Twitch Partner and Affiliates can earn a portion of the money that people pay to subscribe to their channels. There are three subscription levels available to viewers: $4.99, $9.99 and $24.99. Initially, the streamer and Twitch will share the subscription income equally. Though, bigger broadcasters often get a higher percentage of the subscription revenue. In some instances, they might even receive the entire amount. A streamer will continue to receive this share till the subscriber actively cancels his/her subscription.
How can I work out the media value earning potential of Twitch?
Influencer Marketing Hub has designed a tool to give you an indication of the media value of any Twitch channel and the likely cost of buying a sponsorship for that channel. It weighs up several factors such as the number of total subscribers, number of total video views, average media value and total estimated media value. It is not an official Twitch tool and is not associated or endorsed by Twitch.