Bits, Utip, Tipeee… The Tip Industry in Streaming


In the world of videogame streaming, the trend in recent years has been to distribute tips to content creators. This model tends to supplant that of advertising to pay streamers, which is not without consequences for them, and other actors in the field who must adapt.

xX_RøXxX0R_Xx just donated 100 bits “, ” Kappa42 just subscribed “, ” QSI just donated 1.000 euros ! »… If you’re a fan of Twitch, and live video game broadcasts, these phrases are certainly not unfamiliar to you. If a few years ago advertising still managed to keep the pioneers of streaming alive on Twitch or Dailymotion, a new model has replaced the one in force until now: that of tips. 

It is now very simple to give a little something to your favorite content creator, either on a one-off or recurring basis, including for those who do not wish or cannot directly send money, thanks to the mining of crypto-currency. 

This new way of working profoundly changes the habits of streamers, who can no longer necessarily count on a regular income. We are discussing this with ExServ and Adrien Mennillo, the founder of the uTip platform.

Twitch: “bits” and subscriptions

As the first in the industry, Twitch had to bring a variety of tools to the broadcasters present on its platform. Two (cumulative) options are therefore offered to them.

Viewers can subscribe to a channel, starting at $5 per month shared 50/50 between the platform and the broadcaster. The ratio increases to 60/40 for official partners.

Another option: micro-donations via Cheers. The principle is simple: viewers buy packs of points called bits, starting at $1.40 per 100 bits ($0.014 per bit), up to $308 per 25,000 bits ($0.01232 per bit). These points can be spent on certain channels to highlight messages posted on the chat, while giving a small tip to the streamer, up to $0.01 per bit. YouTube also has a Super Chat for a fee.

Only, for broadcasters, access to these monetization features is not easy on Twitch. There are certain levels of hearing that must be reached before one can claim them. Twitch distinguishes three types of streamers:

  • Beginners, who have not reached any level and have no possibility of monetization integrated into the platform
  • Affiliates who have reached a minimum of 50 followers, with an average of 3 viewers and a minimum of 8 hours of streaming over 7 days in the last 30 days.
  • Partners who reach an average of 75 viewers with a minimum of 25 hours of broadcast over 12 days in the last 30 days.

Example of a Control Panel for a streatherer starting on Twitch. The milestones to be achieved are clearly indicated. 

You must at least reach the rank of affiliate to access microdonations via Cheers, subscriptions or the sale of games on the platform. The partners are the only ones who can broadcast advertising on their streams. While the route to be followed is clearly marked out by the platform, the system remains far from ideal according to those who are confronted with it.

The Twitch system is inherently toxic ,” explains ExServ, a streamer with over 26,000 subscribers on the platform. ” You have to stream to win, and the more time you spend on the platform, the more you win. I have acquaintances who work more than 100 hours a week, including administration and preparation of their programs, in order to generate an income that is not unbelievable. »

Some also accumulate social benefits such as RSA in addition to their stream. The problem is that the more time you spend on Twitch, the less time you spend looking for a more stable situation and you end up locking yourself into that system. The platform also encourages you to spend more time on it, to unlock successes that will allow you to have other monetization options. In order to become a partner, you have to get an average of 75 spectators over a month, it sounds a bit unsaid, but it is very difficult to achieve if you don’t have a community behind you from the start.

Mixer : Skills, Sparks and Embers…

Like Twitch, Microsoft will also be relying on micro-donations to pay users of its home-grown platform: Mix. In August 2016, the Redmond-based band bought Beam, renamed Mixer and featured on Xbox One, in the hope of gaining a foothold in this market. It is now entering its “season 2” and should provide new functionalities in this area. 

 
Mixer Sparks

As a reminder, on Mixer, spectators collect a virtual currency, the sparks, by watching broadcasts, at a rate of 2 sparks per minute. They can then spend them either to interact with the broadcast, by playing a sound or by inlaying an image. Another option is the use of effects or stickers in the chat window. 

Depending on the number of sparks received over a certain period of time, the broadcaster may reach levels that provide a small remuneration. For every 100,000 sparks collected, the equivalent of 830 hours of viewing time, one streatherer can win… Fifteen measly dollars. 

Another option is the recurring subscription, like Twitch. To do so, you must become a “partner” of the service, a step that requires an account at least two months old, with 2,000 followers, 12 streams per month for a total duration of at least 25 hours. However, reaching these levels is not enough, since Mixer expects its partners to demonstrate “professionalism”, offer varied content and focus on promoting and moderating their own community. 

Tipeee and Patreon: the kings of recurring giving

Streammers of all stripes, as well as youtubers also rely heavily on Tipeee or Patreon, platforms that allow them to collect recurring donations from their fans, each month or according to their production.

The principle is simple. At each level of donation, the spectator obtains (or not) access to various more or less tangible rewards, such as access to discussion servers (Discord, TeamSpeak…), private sessions, previews, exclusive artworks…

Both platforms levy a commission on all the revenues they collect. At Tipeee, a minimum of 8% is required, which may vary depending on the payment method chosen by donors. In the case of a donation via Paysafecard, an additional fee of 15% of the total amount is charged.

On Patreon, the platform commission is set at 5%. There are also payment fees, which vary depending on the provider, and other fees when you take the collected amounts out of the platform and transfer them to your Bank Account or PayPal jackpot.

uTip: voluntary advertising, mining and subscriptions

Another service has been digging its hole in the creators in recent months, uTip. Launched in September 2017, it was redesigned two months ago building on a news feed inspired by Instagram.

It offers a range of fundraising methods. ” We don’t really like the term support, we prefer to talk about remuneration for content ,” says Adrien Mennillo, the company’s founder. And whoever made the platform famous among youtubers has a little bit of déjà vu: advertising. 

Only there is one notable variation. On uTip, Internet users watch the ads voluntarily, and choose which creators to support in this way. Each creator has a page where his fans can launch a video ad, to be watched in its entirety. For a 30-second clip, 5 cents are paid to the youtubeur. ” We don’t take commission on those nickels. We are paid with the difference between the price at which we sell advertising to advertisers, between 6 and 7 cents per display, and the price paid to creators,” says the founder.

At first glance, this amount may seem very high, compared to the famous ratio of 1 euro per 1,000 views of YouTube (actually very variable, below this amount). “This is actually a very different calculation ,” explains Adrien Mennillo.

In reality, this rate does not give the price of each ad viewed, but an average revenue per 1,000 views of a video. However, these 1,000 videos do not necessarily result in 1,000 ad views. ” In reality, the remuneration paid for a 30-second advertisement viewed in its entirety on YouTube is more in the order of 1 to 1.5 cents for every 3 cents charged to the advertiser. We stay significantly above. »

To justify this high rate to advertisers, uTip offers them several guarantees. ” In our society, Internet users voluntarily watch advertising, pay attention to it and take a step back from the message we send them. This allows advertisers to talk to people without forcing them, and that’s something they particularly like ,” says the platform. There are limits on the viewing of advertisements, depending on the campaign, to avoid voluntary overdose.

uTip FireTipR

Another option is to make a cash donation on the platform. Either directly to the creator (by credit card or PayPal), or through FireTipR for recurring payment. In this case, by default, 45% of the sum goes to the creator of your choice, 45% in a jackpot that you distribute among the other people you follow on the platform, and 10% goes to fees and commissions. However, it is possible to distribute the 90% available for creators at will. It is thus possible to pay 10% of one’s subscription to 9 different people, 30% to one in particular, and 5% to others, etc. 

These donations do not necessarily entitle the donor to a quid pro quo, as can be seen on Patreon or Tipeee. A model criticized by Adrien Mennillo: ” Their model tells people who create content that their basic work does not deserve to be paid, and that they have to do even more to justify it. I’m not a big fan of this way of looking at things“. He acknowledges, however, that there is a demand on uTip for this method, which could come in the coming weeks.

Last solution to support the creators: the mining of crypto-currencies. Of course, it goes through the Coinhive service, which allows to exploit the power of a processor to undermine Monero, via a simple JavaScript script. The conversion rate used is one million calculations (hashs) for 0.01 euro. If you have a common processor, such as a Core i5 6600K capable of 220 H/s hashrate, you will need to devote 75 minutes of computing power for a penny or a quarter of an hour with a Threadripper 1950X. 

uTip

Crypto-money doesn’t pay much, it’s mostly an ideological positioning for us. We want to remove as many obstacles as possible to the remuneration of creators, and Coinhive appeared as a solution for those who do not wish to watch advertising or spend money directly,” says Adrien Mennillo.

The amounts collected monthly by the various creators are public, allowing communities to know whether or not there is a particular need. The amounts involved, however, seem to remain rather low. The YouTube channel La statistique expliquée à mon chat, which has more than 200,000 subscribers, has collected just under 20 euros in this way over the last 30 days. Others more active like LeChefOtaku exceed 300 euros.  Since the beginning of the year, uTip claims to have paid out just over 100,000 euros to creators, of which a little over 90% has been paid out in advertising. 

If you want to give one euro to your favourite youtubeur, you have to watch 20 commercials… then that’s huge, because you’re going to watch commercials voluntarily and it’s very well valued. If I had a nickel for every time someone watched one of my videos, I would not need any other side income. But frankly, I think I’d rather have someone who wants to give me a euro, give me that euro directly, than sbirifie himself watching advertising,” reacted streamer Benjamin Daniel (known as Benzaie) at the end of a 24-hour marathon, following requests from spectators to switch to uTip.

Taxation still unclear for these donations

How are these tips viewed from a tax point of view? So far, the authorities have not made an official decision.  However, with a little common sense, it is not so complicated to know which regime to apply to such income. 

There’s a complete lack of clarity on taxation ,” says ExServ. ” New occupations have been created, with new modes of remuneration, but we don’t yet know how to tax them. The government is lagging behind in this area. For my part, I declare everything through my self-company and pay my contributions. As far as VAT is concerned, as a self-employed person I am not subject to VAT. It’s probably not the best way to maximize my income, but it has the merit of being simple ,” he says.

It is already possible to classify spectator payments into two different categories. If the donation gives rise to a consideration, such as a dedication or the dissemination of his name, it is no more and no less than a provision of a service in the broadest sense of the term. In this case, the broadcaster must pay 20% VAT to the State.

Otherwise, if no consideration is provided for, the rules of the customary present may apply, provided that the sum in question remains “modest” in relation to the patrimony of the giver, and on the occasion of an “event”. The definition is therefore very vague, and it is up to a judge to decide in the event of a dispute with the tax authorities Be careful, however, this case only works when the donation is made to an individual. 

As far as VAT is concerned, it all depends on the status of the entity collecting the donation. In the case of a company, the collection of VAT on donations is normally carried out. If they are a self-employed person, they are exempt, but they still have to pay the contributions for these amounts. 

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