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Twitch: An Easy Way for Student Athletes to Get Paid

By: Spencer Bauer

After the Supreme Court held that student athletes can profit off their likeness in Alston v. NCAA, numerous state legislatures have implemented “Name, Image and Likeness” legislation. Student athletes are now able to receive compensation for endorsements and content creation. Thousands of student athletes are thrilled about the new ability to create revenue, but equally as many do not know where to begin. In terms of content creation, most people are generally drawn to apps like Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and TikTok. However, there is another app that allows content creators to have substantially more freedom about what they post, when they post, how they distribute content and could be much more lucrative than any other application. To maximize their earnings under Name, Image and Likeness, student athletes ought to use Twitch.

Twitch is an online platform for live video streaming that has over 8 million content creators and over 140 million monthly viewers in 2021. Twitch was originally developed as a platform for gaming gameplay and gaming tournaments, but streaming content on the site has expanded to numerous other forms of entertainment including live music, podcasts, cooking shows, live chat rooms, comedy performances and even live sporting events. Partnering with Amazon, Twitch has launched a partnership with soccer clubs Real Madrid, Arsenal, Juventus and Paris-Saint Germain, agreeing to create content for the clubs and stream their matches. Twitch’s decision to launch its own sports category has resulted in hundreds of sports specific content streams and has led to many prominent professional athletes to start streaming on the app. JuJu Smith-Schuster, Devin Booker, Paul George, Gordon Hayward, Karl Anthony Towns, and numerous other professional athletes have amassed a huge following on Twitch. The market for content on twitch produced by athletes is clear, people are willing to pay money to watch these athletes play video games and to get a glimpse into the athletes’ lives. But can streaming content really be profitable?

More than 80 Twitch streamers have earned more than $1 million solely from streaming in the last two years. Dungeons and Dragons voice actors, Critical Role, have made almost $10 million since 2019. Fortnite players Tfue and Nickmercs have both earned over $5 million from streaming, not including YouTube revenue, merchandise, sponsorships and external donations. Not only are professional gamers bringing in substantial revenue, professional athletes and sports personalities are also cashing in on Twitch. JuJu Smith Schuster and Devin Booker both have over 200,000 followers on Twitch. Once partnering with Twitch, streamers can make $2.50 per follower and can receive 50% of fan subscriptions to their channel. Fans subscribe to the channel for $4.99 or $9.99 per month to receive advertisement free content, access to the live chat function and other exclusive content. So streamers like Lebron James Jr. with 488,876 Twitch followers and 637,313 views have the potential to make a substantial amount of revenue. The numbers show that fans are willing to watch and pay for content made by athletes. Student athletes may not have the notoriety of some of these prominent streamers and professional athletes, but there is still a great opportunity to make substantial revenue putting out content that is exclusively under their control.

So how do student athletes get involved with Twitch? The short answer is that they can get involved in any capacity that they wish. Twitch is not just a streaming platform for gaming, content creators can stream literally anything within the community guidelines. Student athletes can pursue a more traditional route on Twitch by streaming their gameplay from popular video games and interacting with viewers during their gameplay. This path is the most likely to produce revenue since the majority of Twitch viewers are on the site to watch gameplay from their favorite games and Esports. With the emergence of online gaming and the development of Esports as a legitimate entertainment format, the potential for sponsorships and endorsements will continue to increase. Student athletes can enter into deals with specific game developers, computer software companies, energy drinks and various other gaming related products. There is a ton of potential money to be made in this space, it would be rather unwise for student athletes to not consider getting involved. Developing a following on Twitch will not only help their monetary intake in the short term, but could build the foundation for more lucrative social media deals and endorsements down the road.

However, this does not mean that student athletes have to only stream gameplay. Student athletes can stream just about anything that they like to do or do in their free time. Examples include streaming a podcast about sports or showcasing other hobbies that they love. It could be as simple as baking a cake with their friends late at night or playing board games in their dorm room. Odds are that there is an audience out there that is willing to watch it on Twitch. Viewers will likely want to see the ins and outs of a day as a student athlete; this can take the form of an endless amount of content.

Twitch can be the perfect social media platform for student athletes to showcase their daily routines since it allows streamers to choose when they want to stream content and what kind of content they want to stream. The potential on Twitch is seemingly limitless at this point in time. Viewership on Twitch continues to grow and the company is making a heavy investment into sports. This is the perfect time and opportunity for student athletes to start cashing in on their ability to profit off of their likeness. Student athletes can now pay their rent, and possibly their parent’s rent as well, just by playing video games and streaming content.

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