Twitch is facing an enormous wave of backlash from the most popular content creators to even the smallest viewers after introducing new mid-stream ads that cannot be controlled.
Video advertisements on Twitch were previously restricted to pre-rolls, and ads manually triggered by streamers. However, that’s all changed thanks to the latest update.
In their so-called "experiment" on September 14, the Amazon-owned platform is testing the ability to automatically run ads at any point through a broadcast.
“Starting today, we'll be testing automated mid-roll ads for some viewers,” the Twitch Support account tweeted. “Some viewers may begin to notice that they are receiving ads during streams that others in a channel aren’t receiving.”
This means that a video advertisement could pop up at a crucial moment without any input from the streamer. Viewers could miss game-winning highlights, hilarious fails, and everything in between based on the new change. It didn’t take long before the most popular content creators lashed back at the ‘intrusive’ update.
🔬 Starting today, we'll be testing automated mid-roll ads for some viewers. These ads will directly support the Creator and won't run if the viewer has had an ad break in that channel recently. Your feedback is welcomed to help shape this feature!
— Twitch Support (@TwitchSupport) September 14, 2020
“Like pre-rolls, these are ads triggered by Twitch, not by the creator,” a blog post soon doubled down. At any point throughout any stream from an affiliate or partnered content creator, select viewers could be pulled out of the action. “Really feel like this will drive our audience OFF of our channels,” ChilledChaos replied. “Bad change. Creators want control. Don't do this.”
“How do I know if this is happening to my channel and can I please opt out,” Timthetatman followed up, supported by the likes of NICKMERCS and plenty others.
Really feel like this will drive our audience OFF of our channels. Creators already keep their eye on fluctuating viewer counts, now we have to factor in "twitch ran an automatic midroll" for why the audience may be tuning out? Bad change. Creators want control. Don't do this.
— Chilled Chaos (@ChilledChaos) September 15, 2020
“If you want to incentivize streamers to run ads, the worst way to do it is punishing their viewers by forcing ads during potentially awesome live moments on the stream,” Asmongold chimed in. The experimental feature was met with near-universal criticism just hours after its announcement.
As a result, Twitch was quick to face the backlash and explain that this change is purely an ‘experiment’ for the time being. “For what it's worth, this *is* the test,” they said. “We will be monitoring the data from this experiment coupled with your feedback to improve and provide a better experience over time.
If you want to incentivize streamers to run ads, the worst way to do it is punishing their viewers by forcing ads during potentially awesome live moments on the stream
Increase ad-free viewtime for running a midroll if you want more streamers to run midrolls
— Zack (@Asmongold) September 15, 2020
Given the overwhelming backlash, perhaps it’ll force Twitch’s hand into reverting the experiment. There’s no telling how long the feature will be live for before that decision is made, however.
In the meantime, if you're not subscribed to a channel, expect to have ads interrupt the viewing experience without warning.