In a move that’s already hated by both streamers and viewers, Twitch recently announced that it would begin testing mandatory mid-roll ads for some viewers, effective immediately. While the revenue from the ads would go to creators, the new ads would happen without their control or knowledge.
🔬 Starting today, we’ll be testing automated mid-roll ads for some viewers. These ads will directly support the Creator and won’t run if the viewer has had an ad break in that channel recently. Your feedback is welcomed to help shape this feature!
— Twitch Support (@TwitchSupport) September 14, 2020
The ads will be enabled for both affiliate and partner channels for non-subscribing viewers, with creators getting a share of the ad revenue. The mid-roll ads will play in picture-in-picture format, supposedly reducing disruption, but creators still aren’t happy about the change–which is likely why Twitch has been careful to frame it as an experiment. The mid-roll ads will only be shown to a select group of viewers as part of the initial trial.
As pointed out by The Verge, mid-roll ads have long been a part of the platform–though previously they would be triggered manually by the creator, allowing them to sync ad breaks with a pause in streamed content. Twitch’s own best practice guide says creators should warn viewers when an ad break is coming, which is made impossible by the new change.
While creators are able to disable pre-roll ads if they include their own manual ad breaks, there is no way for them to disable Twitch’s new ad experience, other than the fact that viewers won’t see automatic ads if they’ve recently watched a creator-run ad. Most creators have agreed that the small amount of money they see in ad revenue isn’t worth the new disruption to their viewers.
Seriously. I made about $18k in youtube ad revenue last month and about $200 on Twitch.
— Harris Heller (@HarrisHeller) September 15, 2020
Three minutes of ads per 60 (or 90 seconds per 30) will disable midrolls. That’s 5% of our total content. The reason we aren’t running ads voluntarily is that the pennies earned from ads isn’t worth the 5% content loss. It’s a badddd deal.
— lara6683 (@Larawithabird) September 15, 2020
Twitch has yet to respond to the backlash to its new ad experience, but this is likely why it’s been framed as an experiment rather than a permanent change.