One year on from Dr Disrespect’s Twitch ban: What have we learned?
A year ago, on June 26, 2020, the self-proclaimed ‘face of Twitch’ Dr Disrespect was inexplicably banned from the platform, permanently. A year later, are we any closer to knowing the reason, and what has changed in those 12 months?
To answer the first question: We still don’t know why Dr Disrespect was banned. As far as anyone is aware, the only people who have any real knowledge of why the Doc was banned in June last year work at Twitch, and even then, only a select group of individuals at the company may know.
No fellow streamers, friends, or journalists have said why Dr Disrespect was banned (other than a few questionable ‘we know but can’t say’ teases), and so it has been left to speculation. Even the Doc himself maintains that Twitch did not tell him the reason.
At the time, Twitch issued this statement: “We take appropriate action when we have evidence that a streamer has acted in violation of our Community Guidelines or Terms of Service. These apply to all streamers regardless of status or prominence in the community.”
Only months before his ban, the face of Twitch had signed a new contract with the Amazon-owned platform. That contract has presumably been torn up, and the Doc is now an established streamer on YouTube.
The rise of YouTube Gaming
In 2019, Microsoft’s Mixer platform, now defunct, lured away the two most-watched streamers on Twitch at the time, Ninja and shroud, with big-money offers. Their presence wasn’t enough to make Mixer a destination for streaming and compete with Twitch, and the pair got a big payday only to end up back on their previous platform.
YouTube, meanwhile, also lured away some big names from Twitch with bumper contracts, including CouRage and Valkyrae, but, they landed the jackpot with Dr Disrespect after his ban. By banning the Doc, and not revealing the reason, Twitch essentially gifted one of their most famous names right into their rival’s hands.
At the time, Dr Disrespect’s channel had 1.5 million YouTube subscribers, but in the year since, he’s moved that number up to 3.4 million.
He immediately made a splash too, with all the drama surrounding the situation helping his first-ever ‘test stream’ on the platform hit over 300,000 live viewers. And his average viewership since has been strong, regularly attracting over 20,000 concurrent.
Whatever the reason for his ban, Twitch would not have taken the decision lightly. The Doc had been a household name on the platform for years, and undoubtedly an asset for them, even if there had been some controversies along the way.
YouTube Gaming’s success over the past year likely would have happened without Dr Disrespect anyway, as many other creators have helped lead the charge (most notably Valkyrae). But, without the Doc, it feels like Twitch lost just a bit of its sheen as the number one destination for video game streaming.
Dr Disrespect had raised the bar in many ways, with his always-in-character persona, unrivaled production value, and storylines that tied together every broadcast. When a new game dropped, people would go straight to Twitch to get the opinion of shroud, summit1g, and the Doc. Now, some head straight to YouTube instead.
He’s only one streamer, and has never been the absolute ‘number one’ on either Twitch or YouTube – but Dr Disrespect gave Twitch an intangible edge, which it no longer possesses.
Dr Disrespect’s gain?
There’s no doubt that having the Doc on their site has been a boon for YouTube Gaming. But, has Dr Disrespect himself seen a net positive result from his Twitch ban?
This is harder to argue with certainty. On one hand, his ban was such a massive story for weeks, months even, that he gained an extra layer of notoriety and mystique for his character.
But, despite the huge strides YouTube has taken, no one is ready to argue that it has knocked Twitch off the top spot of streaming just yet. The talking points, trends, metas, drama, and general ‘noise’ in livestreaming still originate strongest on Twitch, with YouTube creators playing catchup.
This is partly due to Twitch’s superior discoverability and shareability – something which YouTube is starting to tackle, with new features like clips. But, it still feels like Dr Disrespect isn’t on everyone’s radar like he was before, constantly at the forefront of the conversation. If he could wind back time, and eradicate all the ban drama – would Doc choose Twitch over YouTube still?
Twitch has many community-led initiatives, that can be powerful in promoting their streamers, and getting creators involved in opportunities with game developers and other sponsors. For example, Dr Disrespect will have to miss out on the World Series of Warzone tournaments, with a $1.2m prize pool, because it is exclusive to Twitch. Twitch Rivals too, the platform’s own tournaments, are no longer an option for the Doc.
Dr Disrespect’s Twitch ban and move to YouTube neatly marks the first year of transition, as YouTube continues to make up ground in the livestreaming space. Year two might be when the competition really heats up, if both platforms stay on their current trajectory.