There’s a new kid on the livestreaming block, and their name is TikTok. But in an increasingly crowded field of streaming stock, time will tell which one will walk the walk, talk the talk, and not balk... Yes, I did get paid to write that terrible rhyme.
The platform most known for letting users post short pieces of content is trying to up its game in the live-video market. Specifically, TikTok is taking a huge page from rival Twitch in allowing for viewers to pay to subscribe to streamers they want to support. Like Twitch, users get access to a subscriber-only chat, emotes, and badges.
The new feature is rolling out to a few creators on an invite-only basis starting Thursday, but will become widely available over the next few months.
The Amazon-owned Twitch got its legs under it in 2011 thanks to a bevy of gaming livestreamers and their fervent audiences, but some content creators are not happy with recent reports that the company plans to cut streamer pay, which only led to more upheaval at the executive level. Twitch’s new competitor has been hinting at this move on its Live creator channel, and the timing indicates TikTok may want to drag some Twitch users over to their side. Bloomberg reported Wednesday that the ByteDance-owned TikTok has been dragging past Twitch employees over to work on its Live service.
The news also follows reports from Reuters based on unnamed sources that TikTok has been testing a big push into gaming on its platform, though whether that will incentivize gaming livestreamers to take them and their audiences away from the OG streaming platform is anyone’s guess. Twitch lost a few high profile gaming streamers for YouTube in 2021—citing pay discrepancies—but it wasn’t the mass exodus that some feared at the time. Some Twitch streamers are also under contract to stream exclusively on the platform.
Bloomberg further reported that TikTok said it will evenly split Live revenue between itself and creators. Twitch creators currently get 70% of subscriber revenue, but as pointed out before, the company has suggested dropping that to 50% as well.
Pay will be a big factor for the platform, where major creators like YouTuber and author Hank Green this year heavily criticized the platform for underpaying creators.
Of course, as is the case with a lot of monetized content, you have to take the good with the bad. Twitch has spent years trying to iron out the hiccups on its platform, but it still struggles to handle sensitive events. The Buffalo shooter livestreamed his massacre on Twitch, which was up for only a few minutes before the company took it off the air. That May 14 video has since been viewed millions of times more since it was taken off-platform. Twitch is still evolving how it moderates content. The company recently announced it may start displaying clips of a streamer’s supposed infractions when an account gets banned.
TikTok has been planning this move since at least January, but the company said in its release that Live content must adhere to its community guidelines, that includes the usual slate of moderation policies for harmful content.