Wealth

How Much Money Do Streamers Make? A Look At Twitch’s Top Earners

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The streaming industry has become big, real big. As it turns out, a surprising amount of people like to watch other folks play #VideoGames, whether it’s the top Street Fighter contenders, Overwatch players with crazy homemade controllers, or Hearthstone players that redefine the meta. Of course, while these streamers aren’t showing off their skills and creativity out of sheer kindness, everyone’s gotta get paid, but how much do the top streamers actually make?

How Much Money Do Video Game Streamers Earn?

Popular streamer Lirik makes around $216,000 a year on subscribers alone [Credit: Lirik]
Popular streamer Lirik makes around $216,000 a year on subscribers alone [Credit: Lirik]

To figure out how much money streamers on Twitch actually make, we have to look at the way the Twitch service operates. To really start making money as a streamer, most people are going to have to join the partner program. The partner program is available to popular streamers and requires you to have an average audience of over 500 viewers and stream at least 3 times per week. At that point, we’re talking part-time job territory.

Once you’re a partner, Twitch grants you access to a number of benefits. You can set up broadcast-delay streams, so you can stream tournaments without having to worry about viewers cheating by telling players what the other team is doing. What’s more important though is that you can start accruing monthly subscribers.

The average professional streamer makes between $2,000 and $5,000 a month

These subscribers pay $4.99 a month to support their favorite streamer and in return they gain perks like cosmetic upgrades to their account, personalized emojis and private chats with the streamer. This money is split 50/50 with Twitch at first, then later, as a streamer becomes more popular and established, usually around 60/40, meaning most streamers earn $2.50-$3.00 per subscriber.

For most mid-level streamers, this service, combined with ad revenue from Twitch streams (between $0.70 and $2.50 per thousand views, depending on the streamer, more if you feature full ads that actually interrupt your stream) and YouTube compilation videos, all make up the bulk of their income.

So What Does That Mean In Pure Numbers?

Partners can earn $4.99 a month from subscribers. [Credit: Twitch]
Partners can earn $4.99 a month from subscribers. [Credit: Twitch]

At this point everything boils down to just how many viewers you have, how loyal they are, and how long you’ve been in the game. Streamers with a decent amount of viewers can pull in anywhere from a few hundred to thousands of dollars a month through ads alone. If you’ve got enough viewership and enough devoted fans, let’s say 10,000 viewers a month and 250 subscribers, you’ll be making around $3200 a month from ads and another $625 from subscribers. At almost $4000 a month, plus YouTube income, suddenly it’s starting to look like a pretty decent career choice.

On the high end, things can get even crazier. More popular streamers have the clout to negotiate for bigger pieces of the pie, and many high-profile streamers run their own donation/subscription services outside of Twitch and YouTube. There’s also sponsorship to factor in once a streamer establishes their own brand.

How Much Money Do The Top Video Game Streamers Earn?

At this point, the numbers get kind of mind boggling, at the low end, we’re talking around $100,000 per year for high-profile streamers. Professional streamer Lirik, who pulls in around 900,000 followers and 6,000 subscribers, makes over 200,000 just on twitch subscribers, not counting sponsorship, ad revenue and outside income sources. Assuming Lirik has these other income streams going, he may be pulling in close to a million a year.

Others can make even more, despite not doing all that much live streaming until recently, gaming YouTuber Pewdiepie makes around four million dollars a year (though that amount has probably dropped after recent controversies). The more family friendly Markiplier makes around the same amount, taking into account the different tax brackets of their respective countries.

Pewdiepie makes around $4,000,000 a year.

Of course, these massive amounts aren’t common among streamers, they represent the very top earnings in the field. For the average professional streamer, the monthly income tends to be between $2000 and $5000 a month, and even that requires a lot of work to be put in before it pays off. Many streamers also work close to 60 hour weeks between streaming, promotion and other responsibilities. Spending all day playing games like PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds might seem like a cushy job to some, but it’s a lot of hard work.

Professional streaming undoubtedly has its drawbacks and isn’t all fun and games. Just ask Rudeism.

Have you ever considered streaming professionally? What’s been your experience? Let us know in the comments!

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