Could We See Sponsors Paying Viewers in the Future?

Streaming has become one of the most popular income sources, especially with the pandemic and lockdowns in place. While the streamers themselves make money from their sponsors, the viewers usually don’t make money from watching. That said, there are signs that this could change soon.

Esports Streaming Platforms

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What is a stream sponsor?

A stream sponsor is a company that provides streamers with an incentive in exchange for some sort of promotion on the streamer’s channel. In general, the companies are looking to show off their products or services to the streamer’s audience.

Numerous companies have invested in Twitch sponsorships, from mobile games like the infamous Raid Shadow Legends to energy drink companies like Monster Energy.

How does a streamer make money from a sponsor?

Different companies can provide the esports streamer with varying kinds of incentives. Game companies looking to promote their game might give the streamer a set amount of money per viewer per hour just for playing their game. More viewers equal more money for the streamer.

Companies that sell tangible items, like hardware and software, energy drinks, and accessories might give streamers a certain percentage commission on the sale of their products. This kind of deal typically called an “affiliate relationship,” usually comes with a specific affiliate code that buyers can use at checkout. When they use the code, it signals to the company that the buyer was referred to them by the streamer. The company then pays the commission to said streamer.

Instead of monetary payments, a streamer might receive the product(s) that the company sells to advertise those products to their audience. Popular Twitch streamer summit1g had a Monster Energy-themed mini-fridge in the background of his stream at all times to signify his partnership with the brand.

These brands are usually attracted to streamers with high viewers counts, so more viewers also lead to better esports sponsorships. On certain occasions, the viewers themselves can also benefit from the streamers’ sponsors.


How does a sponsor give back to the viewer?

When a company releases a new game and wants to attract the community’s attention, they might set up certain streamers with “key drops.” This means that certain viewers of that stream will get a game key, giving them access to the game before its release. Often this is the only way to play the game.

Recent examples of this include Valorant and Hyperscape. The former successfully attracted the community to view streams with key drops enabled that it broke the “single-day hours watched record in a single game category” with 34 million hours watched in total.

Other times, games will give viewers of a stream certain in-game drops just for tuning in. These games are usually MMOs like The Elder Scrolls Online.

Could we see sponsors paying viewers?

In a more recent development, streamer NICKMERCS partnered with Cash App to give viewers actual money for watching his stream. Cash App is a mobile payment service that allows users to transfer money to one another using an app.

On the day of the announcement, the two gave random viewers around $20,000 just for tuning in to the stream. If viewers used a specific code to create a Cash App account, they would get a free $10. According to NICKMERCS, this was only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to giveaways for his viewers.

What is Cash App getting from this deal? Exposure. According to TwitchTracker, NICKMERCS gets an average of 47,785 viewers per stream. On January 14th, when the Cash App deal went live, his stream reached a maximum viewer count of 80,689. That’s 80,689 people that were made aware or reminded of Cash App’s existence.

Could we see a future where viewers are rewarded just for tuning in to a stream? It’s possible. If viewers have an incentive to watch a stream because they will receive something in return, everyone involved wins: the streamer gets views, the company in question gets exposure, and the viewers earn rewards. What’s there not to like?