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August 2, 2016

Twitch lets viewers tip more broadcasters by ‘Cheering’

by John_A

To entice top broadcasters to its streaming service (and make a cut from their tips), Twitch recently introduced “Cheering.” It lets viewers spend actual cash to purchase “Bits,” which they can then lavish on streamers by sending animated chat “emotes.” The streamer gets to keep that money, minus Twitch’s hefty 30 percent cut. Cheering has been in beta for just 100 broadcasters, but the Amazon-owned company announced that it’s now available to all 11,000 or so partner streamers in the US and UK.

As a refresher, Bits are a hard-currency version of third-party rewards like AmazeBalls, which lets streamers reward viewers the longer they watch. You can purchase Bits at the rate of $1.40 for a hundred, then tip by typing “cheer” followed by the number of bits. So entering “cheer200” nets your favorite broadcaster $2.00, while Twitch takes an 80 cent cut for a total of $2.80. Pledging higher amounts gets you “more vibrant Bits emotes” and special badges, Twitch says — so users also get a Candy Crush-style dopamine rush for pledging.

On the one hand, viewers can tip a streamer the instant they do something great, and broadcasters can give a shout-out back (via bots from Muxy and others), so everyone gets the warm-and-fuzzies. On the other, if you just tip with PayPal, the streamer gets to keep a lot more than 70 percent of the money. For that reason (and Twitch’s early lack of transparency on its fees) the initial user reaction was mostly negative. With the latest expansion, however, it seems that Cheering is here to stay.

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