Hot Tub Streams Are Waning, But Some People Still Think They’re Destroying Twitch

Hot Tub Streams Are Waning, But Some People Still Think They’re Destroying Twitch
Image: Kaitlyn “Amouranth” Siragusa / Twitch

It’s hot tub stream summer, and everybody’s got an opinion. This week, for example, the biggest streamer on Twitch, Félix “xQc” Lengyel, called hot tub streams “trash,” saying that they’re “the most pathetic thing we’ve seen on Twitch in forever” and petitioning for them to be removed from the front page. It was the latest in a long line of similar opinions from names both big and small that date back to when hot tub streams first popped off in March. But according to hot tub streamers, this trend, like any other, is already coming down from its peak.

Hot tub streams, in which streamers sit in hot tubs and chat with their audiences while wearing swimsuits, are not against Twitch’s rules. Nonetheless, much of the discourse surrounding them has focused on what women should and should not be allowed to wear on stream. Viral tweets, some of which haven’t even been intended as criticism, have attracted hordes of angry hangers-on who feel that streamers are somehow subverting Twitch’s rules in the name of promoting sexual content. Others have expressed concern that these broadcasts steal viewers from more deserving streamers. Arguments against hot tub streams run the full gamut of classics that have been weaponised against women in the past.

“This hot tub meta is like a Twitch Rorschach test,” Kaitlyn “Amouranth” Siragusa, who has participated in the hot tub meta and is one of the most popular female streamers on Twitch, told Kotaku in an email. “People extrapolate their own agenda onto the meta. There are two re-occurring themes that people go back to: 1) Twitch is for gaming or 2) Twitch is unfair towards male streamers — alternatively, Twitch is more lenient on female streamers.”

Lengyel’s focus on Twitch’s front page is especially notable. Many other Twitch streamers and viewers have made similar assertions — that Twitch is in a dire state, and the evidence of that is as plain as a sunny day as soon as you open the site. But if you check Twitch’s front page or Just Chatting directory (where most hot tub streams tend to occur) at any given moment, you’ll often only find a small handful within the top 100 most-viewed streams — sometimes as few as one or two. The trend, despite discussion to the contrary, does not appear to have taken over Twitch.

There are many reasons for this. One is that most popular hot tub streamers don’t just sit in bubbling vats all day and slowly transform into shriveled prune people.

“I personally only do hot tub streams about once a week on Saturdays, with the exception every now and then of a random week day,” XoAeriel, who says she functionally invented the current hot tub meta by being the first streamer to use an inflatable hot tub, told Kotaku in an email. “Outside of hot tub streams I do mostly Just Chatting, and then I play games such as Cold War and Fortnite usually later in the evening. I’ve done quite a few IRL streams as well, such as Topgolf, wineries, and dinners. I wouldn’t consider myself a ‘hot tub streamer’ but [instead] a variety streamer.”

“I’ve been on this platform for a good 3.5 years, and I’ve done gaming, but my main thing is hula hoop dancing and cosplay,” Spoopy Kitt, another streamer who’s grown significantly in popularity thanks to hot tub streams, told Kotaku in a DM. “I’ve gotten hate comments from all of it. Some people will find any reason to tear you down. Just do you, can’t make everybody happy.”

The other reason Twitch isn’t drowning in hot tub streams, according to some who’ve benefited from doing a few themselves, is that the gold rush is already over.

“I actually think hot tub streams are oversaturated a little,” said XoAeriel. “I have recently seen a dramatic drop in viewage, since there are so many girls always in the hot tub. In a way I think it’s just less unique now.”

“Hot tub streams are dying off, slowly but surely,” Firedancer, a streamer who’s grown more modestly as a result of the meta, told Kotaku in a DM. “The numbers aren’t as high as they were for smaller streamers like myself, but I still enjoy doing them.”

That’s not to understate the extent to which some streamers have benefitted from spending a few hours in the tub here and there. Since the end of March, Siragusa has gained almost 500,000 followers. Indiefoxx, the second biggest streamer to regularly stream from a hot tub, has gained almost 300,000 — though she said during a recent stream that she’s getting tired of spending so much time in a tub. Others like Spoopy Kitt and XoAeriel haven’t made leaps quite so large, but they’ve still pulled in tens of thousands of new viewers in just a couple months.

As a result, Siragusa, who prides herself on being data-driven and adaptable, thinks there’s still wind left in the hot tub meta’s sales, and contrary to popular belief, she thinks it’s doing more good for Twitch than bad.

“The data indicates that some of the viewers stick around for gaming and other activities,” she said. “I can play games or just talk to my chat sitting at my desk to 10,000 concurrent [viewers] nowadays. I imagine internally Twitch is seeing a huge surge/influx of people coming from off-platform, people who likely become recurring users. It’s hard to buy marketing like that. The meta is generating a lot of mindshare, and it piques people’s curiosity. I think the narrative that it ‘takes viewers away from other creators’ is false, and the girls engaged in hot tubbing are doing the yeoman’s work of growing the whole viewership pie.”

Despite complaints that women have it easier than men on Twitch, the negative sentiment surrounding hot tub streams is certainly generating one thing that makes their lives harder: harassment.

“Because so much attention has been brought to hot tub streams, harassment has gone way up,” said Firedancer. “People jump on cancel culture trends, and although these types of streams are fun and not breaking any rules, some viewers and other streamers are unable to simply scroll past without voicing their opinions. Some viewers have gotten very toxic in the last few weeks.”

XoAeriel said she tries to ignore the harassment, of which she now receives “a lot,” while Spoopy Kitt thanked her moderators, “the true unsung heroes of Twitch,” who shield her from some of it.

“I have learned to just roll with it in regards to the toxic side of Twitch popularity,” said Siragusa. “I’ve seen a lot of more conservative (in terms of attire or demeanour) female broadcasters get undue hate or sexual harassment regardless.”

Siragusa, then, can’t help but see the entire premise of people’s visceral reaction to hot tub streams — that women are getting preferential treatment on Twitch — as flawed.

“I don’t think girls are on balance treated better than guy streamers with regards to moderation enforcement,” she said. “That is a very unpopular opinion, but I think a lot of the perceived asymmetry is caused by Twitch not publicizing the reason they are taking enforcement action against a streamer. Social media loves opining about topics when there is imperfect information.”

Twitch’s lack of transparency has caused streamers and the company countless headaches over the years — even, (again) contrary to popular belief, in the case of hot tub streams. While one streamer, Imjasmine, recently got suspended for a pretty clear wardrobe malfunction while streaming from a hot tub, Indiefoxx received a suspension earlier this month not for streaming from a hot tub, but for “selling Twitch services or features,” a violation she could not figure out the origin of. She ended up deeming the suspension “excessive.”

So while many streamers and viewers want Twitch to treat symptoms of its transparency problem with even stricter rules, Siragusa thinks the real solution is authentic, consistent transparency on Twitch’s part.

“Even if we hypothetically conceded that female streamers have more leniency, I always find it rather amusing that people argue so hard for Twitch to be more strict with regards to its [terms of service] rather than less,” she said. “If two people are perceived to break the same rule and one receives a ‘lesser sentence’ there is so much more buzz around making sure the person with the shorter suspension gets ‘banned longer.’ Twitch is already much more strict than, say, YouTube with regards to content moderation. I think that in cases where there seems to be ambiguity or inequity around ToS enforcement, it would be far more constructive if the community rallied behind the more forbearing enforcement action/ToS interpretation. But I guess that’s not how the internet works.”

Comments

  • The thing with hot tub streamers is they’re abusing a loop hole and they know it. Thats pretty much the drama around it.. no one likes a person who abuses loop holes to get ahead.

    I mean if you want to use your own body to appeal to the audience then go for gold.. i seriously never got the hate around that… like twitch implodes when a female wears anything remotely skimpy but its all fine n great for tyler1 to show off his sexy sexy buff arms whrn he wears a singlet or tears his shirt… ok that was a half joke but ppl get the idea.

    The issue was Twitch decided after all that drama the solution was instead of cleaning up bad faith actors was to establish a dress code instead… but of course to keep it fair for irl streamers who might be streaming in places where the dress code cant apply made exceptions. Hot tub streamers are basically purposefully making these situations to abuse the loop hole… and now u have the double hit of not only loop hole abuse but situations where ppl are wearing attires much more skimpy than before the whole dress code rules.

  • I’ve got to say it’s pretty deceptive to run this entire article without mentioning that almost everyone quoted here has explicit content OnlyFans accounts.

    Being dishonest like this hurts women who just want to be able to wear a comfortable shirt when they stream for eight hours a day. It doesn’t really help the people doing these sorts of streams either. By burying the extremely obvious sexual service side of the equation you’re saying sex work is horrible and shameful. The guys who think all women on Twitch are playing the simp meta read this article as a confirmation of their shitty attitude.

    You can’t make the right point, that they’re following the rules and not doing anything wrong, or begin to dig into the meatier topic of whether Twitch should allow them to use the platform this way, if you’re pretending they’re just a bunch of streamers who happen to be sitting in hot tubs.

    • I was told by a friend that they’ll nail women for not wearing bras even if they’re fully clothed and I wondered what reasonable female in their right mind would want to stream all day in a torture device.

      • If true I’m genuinely curious how they’d argue for enforcing a bullshit ruling like that if the streamer decided to not wear a bra, but added layers of clothing to make up for it.

        • Something about nipple indents being visible through clothing like t-shirts from what he said? I have to wonder who’d be watching closely enough to enforce that rule if that’s the case, then I remembered that this is Twitch and of course its moderators are watching female streamers that closely.

  • The ‘argument’ that these women are stealing views from male streamers is ridiculous. However, Twitch has presumably created these modesty rules to ensure that streamers are not using their bodies as the main attraction of their streams, and the hot tub style videos are an extremely transparent attempt to circumvent those rules.

    Doing hot tub streams may not go against the letter of Twitch’s ‘laws’, but it certainly goes against the spirit of those ‘laws’.

  • …..I meeaaaaan, I opened Twitch the other day to watch some Dota, and the vid on the front page was a chick in a thong bikini bending over in front of the camera. At what point is it just softcore porn? If people wanna make money that way, all the power to them, got no issue with that, but it doesn’t seem like a Twitch thing after a point.

    • The irony being before the whole dress codes rule were enforced none of the supposed skimpy outfits ever came close to the hot tub stuff. =P

  • If Twitch is all about streaming games maybe they should just remove the ability for everyone to stream their camera?

  • wanna get your kit off on the internet? thats fine, there are places for you to do that. twitch is not currently one of those places. either twitch changes its rules for 18+ streaming or put some clothes on. just cause strip clubs exist doesnt mean its appropriate to do it at the local school.

    • The thing is the hot tub stream is basically loop hole abuse.

      Twitch does have modesty rules for what you are wearing and what you can show in an IRL stream. The problem obviously was it would limit IRL streamers who would say go to the beach because its summer or just chilling. So a proviso was made that swimsuits n the like will be allowed on certain conditions.. which is fair enough to not limit IRL streamers.

      So these streamers basically thought hey if i can make a “beach/pool” on my stream i can stream in even skimpier outfits!

  • Another day, another bunch of puritanical timewasters ranting about stuff that doesn’t actually matter in the real world. It’s not like it’s hardcore porn on there lol. Jesus, I can see far worse when I go to the beach. It’s just women in bikinis for gods sake. Stop being gatekeepers…

    • I cant speak for everyone but besides the usual suspects the biggest thing people have against hot tub streams is the fact its blatant loop hole abuse.

      Twitch basically placed a modesty rule on streamers outfit ages ago (kinda stupid IMHO)… but it kinda messed up IRL streamers who go to the occasional beach or pool so they put in exceptions. And these streamers are basically taking advantage of that loop hole to wear outfits normally not allowed on Twitch.

      I can see the anger from most streamers who have to double check multiple times so they dont get slapped with a ban or suspension and then you have these streamers actively wearing outfits that would get you utterly banned on any other given situation. And I can understand that side of things

      I mean Twitch really could have closed these loopholes age back.. but yeah..

      • Just gonna say it, it’s a mountain out of a molehill. It’s not porn, there’s far worse on the internet and it’s just drama for drama’s sake. Don’t like it? Don’t watch it.
        The same people complaining are the same people ironically who will tout that women should be able to wear what they want and express themselves in the ways they want to. Are they harming anyone? Nah. Are they supplying hardcore porn on twitch? No.
        There’s an almost insulting level of faux-puritanical views being pushed upon people under the guise of being politically correct/safe these days, and it’s bloody awful. You know, I hope these people go ahead and make their money doing this. Personally, I don’t watch them, but hey, for those who do? Enjoy! You’re not harming anyone. And if people get angry over it? God I hope you stress, I hope you get angry, I hope you really, truly get annoyed lol. It just seems *so* petty to get angry over something like this 🙂

        • Are you accusing people on the internet of “making a mountain out of a molehill”??

          Because from what I’ve seen, that’s basically all people do on the internet these days…^_^

        • Just to get this out of the way I’m not invested in this either way as a viewer… if i wanted my T&A there other viable options out there for that stuff but if Hot Tub stream floats other peoples boats honestly far be it from me to judge as a fellow man of culture =P

          But from a sreamers perspective my point is this is really excacerbated by Twitch going all puritanical on their rules and yet for some mystical reason managed to leave a massive loop hole the size of the grand canyon that allows outfits that are demonstrably more lewds than what a “normal” stream is allowed on their ToS… I mean you have to admit there will be some frustration on streamers side that dont do hot tubs because its not their thing and then get a suspension or ban all of a sudden for “inappropriate wardrobe” because of spam reports by troll.

          Basically as a viewer I have no problems whatsoever with this practice. But from a streamers perspective who are being held to double standards here I can see a problem that needs fixing…. either Twitch loosens their puritanical wardrobe/outfit rules so its fair game for all streamers or fix the loop hole.

          • I mean sure, but they’re in a hottub, what else are they meant to wear?

            The rise of this, to use the word again, puritanical behaviour from twitch, it’s streamers and the outrage mob that follows it, is both alarming and disgusting in my eyes. It goes against the idea that women should be able to be proud of their bodies, it goes against the idea that people shouldn’t be shamed for being who they are and in the end, if people don’t like it, just be goddamn adults and don’t watch it rather than being faux-offended.

            I can’t help but feel those who are offended by this, need to get off the internet (instead of getting off on the internet), step away from it and see how the real world works for a while, then they’ll realise how unimportant this all is in the end. 🙂

  • It wouldn’t have taken much work to find women streamers who dislike the “Hot Tub” meta. Once again they find themselves at a disadvantage to their competitors who are willing to show skin and use their “assets” to attract a crowd. Not to mention that these streamers are now essentially using Twitch as a teaser service for the Onlyfans account (**Amouranth**). This is again a little disturbing given that Twitch is predominately a game streaming site. If it wasn’t already obvious as to how they aim to make money, then it is now.

    Poor take, Grayson.

  • So, last couple of days, this article has barely left the first screen of the Kotaku main before being reposted. As of writing it was reposted once again two hours ago.

    Under the circumstances, it shouldn’t be too hard to guess how Pedestrian marketing feels about the value of bikini models in hot tubs driving page views.

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