Kick wants to beat ‘out of touch’ competitors by “treating creators like adults”

Kick Streaming logo on top of computer gaming setupKick/Unsplash: @joshuakettle

Kick first made a splash when Trainwreck promoted it heavily in December 2022. Since then, it has proven a formidable competitor in the livestreaming space. Dexerto spoke to Kick, to learn more about the platform, and put some of the community’s burning questions to them.

Livestreaming, particularly of games, has been dominated by Amazon-owned Twitch for more than a decade. Other players have come (and gone), such as Microsoft’s Mixer, and Facebook Gaming. Only YouTube, so far, has managed to put up a real fight, both for migrating viewership and streamers.

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But Kick, when it was launched, had ambitious aims. It was clear both from Trainwreck’s promotion and its own social media, that Kick had Twitch firmly in the crosshairs. From increased revenue splits to Twitch’s often-maligned ban policy, Kick came for the king – but did it miss?

On Twitter, Kick posted a meme showing that they were defeating “out of touch” competitors. But are they?

We spoke to a spokesperson for the company, who has opened up on Kick’s vision, decision-making, and why it’s not actually all too worried about Twitch.

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It’s now been around 6 months since Kick was pushed by Trainwreck and started its rapid growth. What’s been the biggest challenge in this 6 month period, and the biggest achievement?

“The biggest challenge and achievement has turned out to be the same thing for Kick; reprogramming the mindset of an audience that a live-streaming platform needs half of everything a creator has worked for. Kick has now passed off the baton to its Creators who are realising their worth as they now post about their lives changing since joining Kick.”

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Kick provided an example – and this is not the only creator to boast of increased earnings after making the switch. Former Twitch streamer Ac7ionMann said the switch had meant he earned “life-changing” money. But, the question for some creators is whether Kick will be a sustainable platform long-term, worth risking the audience they have built up elsewhere.

What is the ultimate goal of Kick in the long term? Is it to directly compete with Twitch and YouTube’s dominance of live streaming, or does Kick want to be something different that can co-exist with these rivals?

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“Kick will not kill off Twitch or YouTube any more than Spotify killed off MTV. Kick will just do live-streaming in a relevant way and reinvent the space,” Kick explained. “The best unintended storyline that’s come from the media is that a 6-month-old Kick looks a lot like a 16-year-old Twitch right now; we’re not here to build Twitch 2.0 we’re here to evolve past it like a StarFleet.”

This actually raises an issue that was highlighted when Kick first launched – its user interface looks remarkably similar to Twitch in its layout and presentation. Kick also uses Amazon’s IVS livestreaming service to broadcast live content – which a former Amazon engineer said would be very costly.

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kick and twitch layoutsKick / Twitch
Kick superimposed on top of Twitch – the layout is nearly identical.

From the look of the site to its most publicized features, Twitch was clearly part of Kick’s initial thought process, but is it still the case?

It’s clear, based on the messaging and marketing from Kick, particularly on social media, that you want to directly address many of the complaints that people have with Twitch – Namely with sub-revenue splits and moderation and bans. Is this a guiding principle of your decision-making?

“No, listening to our creators and their communities is what drives our decision-making. Treating Creators like adults and being honest about revenue splits is just a byproduct of what your question is picking up on.”

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Despite this, there has been some criticism too of the moderation on Kick. We’ve covered a number of stories that include overt sexual content as well as anti-social behavior streamed on Kick. Some of these instances resulted in bans, but not all.

“We agree with Dexerto’s perception around moderation if this was 2-3 months ago,” Kick admitted. “Today, that narrative is being rewritten by the streamers who come and use the dozens of tools found on Kick’s moderation dashboard.

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“In addition, we’ve added AI software and additional staff to help flag bad actors.”

Some Twitch streamers who have been banned have made jokes that they will have to move to Kick to allow their content. We wanted to know if there could be a grain of truth to these jokes.

What is Kick’s philosophy on content moderation and enforcement of the guidelines? Are any of Kick’s policies designed to run contrary to Twitch’s moderation rules?

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“We can’t comment on Twitch’s rules other than what we see their streamers post about on social media but at Kick, we’re reformative and work with the Creator to make better decisions. Banning most Creators for a week or more means they may miss rent or bills. We feel we can get the same message across with a reasonable ban found via dialogue. Not enough value is placed on “Intent” which is weird since live-streaming is such a personal medium.”

Regarding users too, there are also concerns that we’ve seen around chat moderation. This has been a battle Twitch has struggled with for years as well, and continues to. Hateful conduct in chats can be hard to eradicate, but is it something that has been given much thought yet internally?

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“Our latest moderation-dashboard launch gives creators and their mods the ability to self-police their community by banning words and allow-listing certain profiles,” Kick explained.

“Creators may also age-gate their channel and Kick moderators are easy to contact via Discord, email and in many instances in real time via chat. So, yeh, you can say we’ve given a lot of thought to this.”

Kick’s ties to Stake and sustainability

Kick’s connection to Stake is both well-publicized but also unclear. What clarity can you provide on Stake’s involvement with Kick?

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“Kick has co-founding members / investors who have ownership in Stake but Kick stands on its own as a live streaming platform,” Kick stated.

Kick’s ties to Stake have been a point of contention in the community. For some, the timing of the platform’s emergence after Twitch banned many forms of gambling, it appeared Kick was offering that content a safe haven. This also sparked theories that Kick could run at a loss with high sub-revenue splits, while providing advertisement for Stake. Kick explains this is an oversimplification.

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kick viewershipStreamElements
Kick’s viewership has grown sharply in 2023.

Is Kick’s 95% sub-revenue split truly sustainable? Although this has been lauded in the community as a much better deal for creators, there have been concerns that the expenditure for the platform means it will run at a loss. Is this true or an oversimplification?

“It’s only an oversimplification because we’ve been told for so long that platforms must take half of everything Creators earn in order to function. There are dozens of revenue streams to tap into that all platforms have access to. The real question is at what point does a platform’s greed become satiated to allow creators to earn a living without blatantly lying to them.”

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Do you think some streamers may be holding off on switching to Kick until the platform has existed for longer & proven its sustainability?

“Live-streaming is suffering from a Mixer hangover. Many Creators had the rug pulled out from under them when Mixer shut down. It’s tough for a Creator to confidently look at their community and say we’re making the move.

“This is why we over-communicate with our audience and involve them in every move in Beta from our mobile app launch to gathering opinions about revamping our verification process. Creators need to be confident that Kick is doing it the right way.”

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As Kick knows, for a platform to truly grow, it needs to make its own stars too. While Kick has signed and plans to continue to sign big names, Kick says the real focus is the “midsized streamer.”

“Signing big names is fun and will continue – but the backbone of Kick is the midsized streamer. More importantly, the lifeblood of Kick is any streamer that has an entrepreneur’s ambition and the insanity to believe that their streaming dream can become a reality.

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“We’ve forgotten, fast, that every “Big Name” had to power up their PC and grind.”

From publicly available numbers, Kick’s total visits have grown exponentially in the past few months, with the latest estimate at 80m visits in April. But, With Twitch at 1.1 billion visits, there’s still a big gap – how do you plan to close it?

“This is not Kick’s focus; closing in on Twitch or even YouTube numbers takes our eye off the Creator. The most important number reported at the end of April 2023 that got little to no media coverage is the fact that Kick surpassed $10M in subscription/gifted revenue in a little over 3 months. That’s over $9.5M distributed to creators.”

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Are there any Kick features in the works to make it stand out more from Twitch and other streaming services?

“We’re currently drafting our Creator Program that will blow the doors off anything we’ve produced thus far.”

While no one knows what the future holds for Kick (nor Twitch for that matter), it’s fair to say that the platform has already proven a more formidable competitor than some initially gave it credit for.

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Twitch, while it often faces the community’s ire over bans and sub-splits, continues to be the go-to site for streaming, with average viewership still growing, albeit only slightly, in 2023.

Kick meanwhile, is still in its growth spurt stage and should have rivals peeking over their shoulder. For streamers, both new and established, the platform is putting forward a tempting opportunity, but questions over its long-term viability may still temper some of that excitement.

We hope to check in with Kick again in the future, to see how the platform has progressed.

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