Twitch draws streamer ire for Ninja, Pokimane ads

Steven R. January 31, 2019

Twitch is in damage control mode with content creators following yet another controversial advertising campaign.

In December, Twitch angered many of its streamers with its promotion of Tyler “Ninja” Blevins’ New Year’s Eve Fortnite stream. Though the event featured Twitch’s biggest name doing a 12-hour marathon live from Times Square in New York City, multiple streamers expressed concern over being effectively forced to advertise for a competitor.

Twitch did not respond to the backlash, and doubled down last week by running commercials for another Fortnite stream run by Imane "Pokimane" Anys. Though Pokimane was a part of the larger Pro Bowl “Bring it All” Block Party event, Twitch again attempting to redirect the audiences of smaller streamers to its brightest stars, renewing the frustration.

While the company remained quiet during the initial outburst, Twitch took to Twitter after the second dustup to address the controversy. There, it acknowledged the concerns of content creators and stated it will avoid running advertisements that could be seen as efforts to siphon viewers away from streams in which the ads are played.

The series of events highlighted the rapidly changing dynamics of streaming. What was exclusively a niche hobby a few years ago has transformed into an industry that is gaining more mainstream recognition by the day. Navigating that space will become more difficult as individual talents attract attention from major players in entertainment and advertising.

Few below the very top seem enthused about the idea of applying trickle-down economics to Twitch.