Twitch’s new branded content guidelines could prove disastrous for esports


Twitch’s new guidelines for branded content could have a disastrous impact on esports events, which largely rely on funds from advertisements to keep competitions afloat.

On June 6, Twitch rolled out new guidelines for branded content on its platform that are scheduled to be implemented on July 1. These rules prevent a slew of advertisements from being streamed — any “burned in” audio, video, and display ads are now totally prohibited.

That’s not all; the site also introduced a swath of commodities that cannot be advertised whatsoever, including medical devices, political content, adult-oriented products, and more.

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That being said, there are ways for streamers and events to advertise products and services, albeit in a very different way. Twitch’s new rules for branded content do say that streamers can have products in the background of a broadcast, place branded panels on a stream’s page, and include promotional links om their page, as well as openly discuss, endorse, or unbox products or services and play sponsored games.

Twitch’s guidelines could spell disaster for esports events

However, Twitch’s new rules could place severe restrictions on streamers and organizations hoping to raise money for personal profit or otherwise — and it might have seriously damaging effects on live streamed events of all kinds, including esports.

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Esports has a massive audience on Twitch. In fact, it’s the premier destination for most competitive gaming. As an example: Looking at Twitch’s Twitter profile, it’s rife with content for Street Fighter 6, a fighting game that thrives on tournaments both small and large that take place throughout the year.

These tournaments are streamed on Twitch, and sometimes YouTube. Many tournaments rely heavily on revenue garnered from advertisements for things like arcade sticks, headphones, computers, and even sponsors like Chipotle to keep each event going year after year.

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What’s more, YouTube’s presense in the esports scene is ever growing, with the Call of Duty League reportedly signing an exclusivity deal with YouTube just hours before the backlash related to Twitch’s branding changes exploded.

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Now, it seems that these sorts of on-stream advertisements will be heavily limited — leading to some potentially serious financial consequences right as tournament season is about to begin.

This doesn’t just affect fighting games, although we used the genre as an example. Any tournaments for any competitive video game events (League, CS:GO, etc) are now held hostage by Twitch’s new guidelines, leading to disastrous consequences that could bring about the death of broadcasted esports on the platform.

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As a result, many streamers have been quite vocal about their opinions on Twitch’s latest guidelines, with many calling for a boycott of the platform altogether while others consider leaving for sites like Kick and YouTube.

Twitch’s apology leaves guidelines unclear for esports tournaments

Twitch has since apologized for the “language” of their most recent guidelines, claiming in a tweet thread that they “missed the mark with the policy language and will rewrite the guidelines to be clearer.”

“We wanted to clarify our existing ads policy that was intended to prohibit third party ad networks from selling burned in video and display ads on Twitch, which is consistent with other services,” they wrote.

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Despite these reassurances, many streamers aren’t convinced the new guidelines will give them more freedom with advertisements and sponsored broadcasts, with more than a few still reeling from the site’s 50/50 subscriber pay split.

Until these guidelines clarifications occur, the future is looking quite bleak for Twitch’s esports scene — a community it had built up to an unprecedented degree on its platform up until now.

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