Twitch Takes Away Biggest Hot Tub Streamer’s Ability To Make Money Off Ads [Update]

Twitch Takes Away Biggest Hot Tub Streamer’s Ability To Make Money Off Ads [Update]
Image: Kaitlyn “Amouranth” Siragusa / Twitch

Kaitlyn “Amouranth” Siragusa is one of the most popular female streamers on Twitch. As of now, she can no longer make money off ads on her channel.

Siragusa, already one of the more recognisable names on Twitch, has benefited tremendously from the so-called “hot tub meta,” in which swimsuit-clad streamers talk to their chats, play games, and perform other activities from hot tubs. This has proven controversial despite Twitch noting to Kotaku and others that it’s not against the platform’s rules. Now Twitch has taken a different, arguably more damaging sort of action against the biggest streamer to participate in the meta.

“Yesterday I was informed that Twitch has indefinitely suspended advertising on my channel,” Siragusa wrote on Twitter today. “Twitch didn’t reach out in any way whatsoever. I had to initiate the conversation after noticing, without any prior warning, all the ads revenue had disappeared from my channel analytics.”

She went on to describe the sudden, uncommunicated swiping of a tool from her money-making toolbelt as “alarming.” Twitch has theoretically always had the power to demonetize streamers as it sees fit — just like YouTube before it. Earlier this year, a cybersecurity researcher discovered that Twitch is experimenting with “brand safety score” functionality that would, as Twitch later explained, “make sure ads are appropriately matched to the right communities on Twitch.” But Twitch has never exercised its power in this way before. Siragusa noted that there is “no communicated guideline” for any of this in Twitch’s rules.

“Many people complain about [Twitch’s terms of service] being ‘unclear,’ but at least there’s something to go by,” she wrote. “There is no known policy for what results in a streamer being put on this blacklist. With characteristic opacity, the only thing Twitch made clear is that it is unclear whether or when my account can be reinstated.”

Kotaku reached out to Twitch for more information, but as of this publishing, the company did not reply.

During a stream shortly after she made the announcement, Siragusa — never one to miss an opportunity for a snarky punchline — sat in her hot tub while watching and reading other people’s reaction to her expulsion from Twitch’s ad pool. She proceeded to go into further depth as to why she finds all of this so unsettling.

“The issue isn’t Twitch removing ads. It’s them doing so without any clarification of what their guidelines are,” she said. “We saw this coming. Everyone expected it. No one expected it without communication, though. Just, like, a stealth removal.”

She also attempted to manually run an ad from her Twitch dashboard as an experiment, but when she clicked the button, nothing happened.

Siragusa expressed gratitude and relief that she has diversified her sources of income beyond Twitch over the years, as ads represent a “significant” portion of the money she makes from the Amazon-owned platform. At this point, Siragusa also makes money from Instagram, OnlyFans, YouTube, and brand sponsors, among others, but she said that some other streamers aren’t so fortunate.

“I’m lucky I’m diversified, but for people who aren’t, that’s a big portion [of their income] they could be losing.”

All of this feeds into an understandable concern: Who’s next?

“It affects more than just hot tub streamers,” she said. “It goes beyond ‘Yeah, doing something to thots!’ Like, if they continue doing this to people who aren’t ‘advertiser-friendly,’ it could affect a lot of people.”

For example, many high-profile streamers have dabbled in gambling while live. It’s not a huge leap to imagine advertisers might not love that, either. “If there’s anything advertisers hate next to porn, it’s gambling,” Siragusa said, also noting that Twitch regularly runs condom ads, suggesting that so-called “adult” subject matter is less of a problem when advertisers do it.

All of this sets a troubling precedent. For the time being, Siragusa isn’t sure exactly what she’s going to do or if she’s going to “fight” it. Her goal today was just to get the word out that “this is a thing Twitch can do and will do.”

“The main issue we’re concerned about now as partners on Twitch is Twitch doing anything to our monetisation at all with no warning,” she said. “Just poof.”

Update 20/05: Speaking to Kotaku, Siragusa further elaborated on the series of events leading up to the discovery that Twitch had demonetised her, as well as the extent to which it impacts her financially. In an email, she explained that prior to the removal, she had been making “over $US1,000 ($1,283) a day” off ads due, in part, to booming business from the hot tub meta. Then it suddenly dropped to zero.

“I asked my [Twitch] partner manager why my ads were showing ‘0′ after May 7th, and she initially expressed surprise as well and even introduced me to upcoming ads products that were rolling out,” Siragusa said. “After inquiring internally, it seems she came back with a prepared statement. They made clear that ads were off the table in the short term. They vaguely alluded that not all content allowed under [terms of service] is appropriate for all advertisers.”

Siragusa says she proceeded to ask one of her Twitch contacts a few follow up questions but has not heard back.

All of this took her by surprise not just because demonetisation was not widely understood to be part of Twitch’s arsenal, but because “I maintain a close line of communication with my Twitch contacts, constantly asking for any colour on their view of hot tub content, or even a nudge if it’s something that is potentially problematic from a moderation standpoint.” She went on to note that she was “actually assured within the last 30 days that they would pass anything along if they heard or if there is a tonal change.”

Siragusa believes that Twitch’s sudden about-face communicates “a shift in how they approach certain content in that they decided to demonetise it versus just changing the ToS,” but there’s a slim silver lining.

“I actually think that if they hold fast to this posture,” she said, “it might open the door to a more lenient ToS, as long as the creator isn’t concerned about monetising the content.”

Comments

  • Ah, two flavours that go great together. Peanut butter and jelly. Ham and cheese. Twitch and arbitrarily applying unwritten rules with little or no clarification.

    • Twitch is a private company, and as my boss has remarked to me in the past, sometimes the only clarification you get is “in alignment with management strategic goals” or “management decision”

      and that is all you’re going to get ^_^

      • Twitch is a private company, who has to keep its clients and stakeholders happy… that’s the advertisers and its parent company, Amazon.

        Hot Tub Meta know they were pushing a line, today it pushed back. Whinging is not going to fix it, if anything it puts them under a magnifying glass and might just get them banned. YouTube Ad-apocolypse was a small problem that snowballed when major corporations threatened to pull millions in advertising.

      • 20 years ago, work like this would involve an employer/employee relationship. Twitch uses the streamer’s labour to generate revenue through advertising, and pays the streamer a portion of that money as part of the bargain.

        How would you feel if you continued to show up for work week after week, but your employer just decided to stop paying you, without explicitly firing you or even notifying you of the decision? Bullshit about “management strategic goals” wouldn’t cut it.

  • It’s interesting, because this is a new class of business that really doesn’t quite fit into a lot of things.

    Just what does Twitch owe the content creators? I mean, without them, there’s no intrinsic value in the platform. Yet on the other hand, content creators aren’t employee’s of Twitch, so aren’t afforded any special rights or privileges?

    I suspect people are just going to accept that these platform providers can be a fickle bunch and plan accordingly.

    • it’s not really a “new class of business” so to speak. Its fairly standard stakeholder engagement. I do it daily for my work, and we have a chart that essentially maps out you as a stakeholder in terms of your engagement (how much you care or should care) and your power (how much can you affect the project or business)

      based on that chart we determine how often we speak to you, how much we value your input etc. etc. and if we want to shift you in any direction on that engagement/power axis

      What content creators are learning is that they’re actually not that high on the power axis (probably not that low either so maybe middling?), and likely would love to be very high on the engagement axis, but because of their lack of power, management is actively lowering their engagement capability.

      In the end, business will always have its own set of strategic goals and motives to continue growing profit and certain creators may not be part of their plans year to year…welcome to the business world???

      • Until another platform pops up and everyone leaves to go there instead. The platform only exists so long as there’s content on it and, as Patreon’s discovering the hard way, meddling in it is a great way to lose both creators and people paying for the content. It’s only a matter of when it starts hitting them in the wallet, not if. The way Twitch is going, they’re aiming for an Adpocalypse that’s entirely of their own making because the monkey brain lawyers who work there can’t write a TOS or any other policy properly (plain clear meaning is a standard in legal drafting, vague nebulous bullshit is not).

        • “It’s only a matter of when…” and when it LOOKS like they’ll actually be impacted, they’ll respond and change tactics. Until then, they maintain their current strategy and prepare to respond just ahead of time and only when needed. Otherwise, they just keep their powder dry

          The main issue for the community is, no platform has even shown early signs of being able to approach twitch’s level to warrant a response from twitch

          • I think the main problem is that Twitch might not get that opportunity. If they’re doing too much damage to themselves, Amazon will offload them before they have the time to correct this historically slow reaction times (and their cringe worthy responses to controversy).

            That being said, I don’t need to watch any content creators on Twitch when Twitch’s mismanagement of their company is the entertainment gift that keeps on giving.

    • This may be true quietwulf, but if Twitch is encouraging people to stream, paying them, waiting until they’re streaming then taking away the payment without telling them even though they aren’t breaching rules?

      That’s shady business practice by anyone’s metric.

  • “It affects more than just hot tub streamers,” she said. “It goes beyond ‘Yeah, doing something to thots!’ Like, if they continue doing this to people who aren’t ‘advertiser-friendly,’ it could affect a lot of people.”

    Maybe, but I doubt it. As she said, it’s not like this was unexpected. Same way people ‘dabbling in gambling’ shouldn’t be surprised if they get demonetized or booted without warning.

    I’d say the vast majority of people just streaming games or chatting (outside the hottub) won’t be affected at all.

  • oh diddums. she knew she was treating twitch as though it was chaturbate essentially laughing in their face that she found a loophole. twitch reacts and suddenly shes a widdle innocent victim. cry me a river.

  • Who would have thought that (knowingly) using a loophole to (purposefully) circumvent rules would result in “punishment”.

    She makes enough money from simps thinking they are going to get some titty pics if they pay her a subscription, so I have no sympathy.

    There’s a reason lawmakers and regulators work to close loopholes.

    • ‘She makes enough money from simps thinking they are going to get some titty pics if they pay her a subscription’

      Spoken like a man who hides his credit card statements from his abused wife.

  • She’s straight up wearing lingerie there, not even pretending its a swimsuit in a hot tub.

    • QUICK SOMEONE GRAB THE PITCHFORKS AND GET THE BONFIRE BURNING

      Seriously, while your diamond-hard misogyny is clearly the result of sustained abuse and that’s pitiable, you really do enter the realm of farce every time you decide to post.

  • I’d be interested to see what sort of money Twitch are actually making out of these streamers. I get that the point is to go all in with a sub/Prime/gift-subs but all the real action is always off-site.
    Looking at the menu Amouranth is particularly managed, in that you seem to have to spend $10 on OnlyFans to get your foot in the door to be able to buy anything more than more teasers, with it costing like $90* before you run out of subscriptions to buy outside of Twitch. *Technically closer to $150 if you’re lucky.
    If you tip/sub on Twitch you get a thank you, and Twitch existing at all proves plenty of people happily pay to tap the glass, but if you tip on OnlyFans you get proper content. That’s always going to be where viewers are funneled.

    Amouranth is obviously a more extreme example due to her success allowing her to not compromise, but I can’t imagine anyone doing hot tub streams generating a meaningful portion of their income from Twitch. Especially not from Twitch ads. Twitch is no stranger to it’s stars milking their fanbases elsewhere but in this case they’re specifically rerouting Twitch’s cut to a different platform.

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