The world of live game broadcasting got a lot more crowded yesterday, and that is leading to some interesting situations for people who make money playing games in front of an engaged audience.
If you are a Twitch partner — one of the 11,000 people who has signed a contract to make money from your live broadcasts on that site — you likely do not have the legal option to also do gaming livestreams on YouTube Gaming. That’s because Twitch says it “typically” includes an exclusivity contract in its contracts with partners that says live gaming broadcasts can only happen on its site and not on competitors like YouTube, Hitbox, and others. Google launched its Twitch competitor yesterday (read our hands-on) — and that naturally brings YouTube into a head-to-head face off with the Amazon-owned video company, but Twitch’s head start may give it an advantage in terms of broadcasting talent.
“Typically, there is an exclusivity agreement regarding live gaming content,” is the answer most Twitch partners are getting from the company when they ask whether or not they are permitted to also broadcast on YouTube.
We asked Twitch about this, and it told us it doesn’t comment on contract issues. But GamesBeat has a partnered channel on Twitch, and we were also told that most contracts have an “exclusivity agreement” when we asked about ours.
The actual agreement reads as follows:
“(1.3 – Exclusivity) and Exhibit A: You would not be able to stream live gaming related content on any other service except for Twitch”
For those of you who dont know. Twitch Partnership contracts come with an exclusivity clause. That means twitch only.
— iJevin (@iJevin) August 26, 2015
Put simply — and I came to this after talking with a number of partners — Twitch’s contract states that if you are a partner, you can only livestream gaming-related content on Twitch. Recorded clips are fine on YouTube, and you can broadcast your music reviews or political commentary anywhere you want. But for partners, gaming livestreams need to stick to Twitch.
But at the same time, no one really knows how strictly Twitch is going to enforce that clause. And many of the site’s partners don’t know exactly what their contract says — and this has led to some confusion.
“I haven’t actually looked at my contract,” Twitch streamer and YouTube video creator Lewis “Dawko” Dawkins told GamesBeat. “But all I have heard from other people is that I am not permitted to livestream on other platforms. However, some other people have told me I am permitted as long as I do not stream on two platforms at the same time, so I’m pretty confused.”
Dawko has seen some Twitch partners livestreaming on YouTube, and he noted that none of them have had any warnings or cease-and-desist orders from Twitch as far as he knows. But that isn’t good enough for a Twitch streamer and YouTube video creator who goes by the handle ZombiewarsSMT and is also known as Thomas.
Thomas is interested in livestreaming on YouTube largely because he already has a bigger audience on that site, but he doesn’t want to risk breaching his contract with Twitch.
“I feel as if it’s better safe then sorry,” said Thomas. “I don’t know what [will happen to] partners if they stream on YouTube.”
But not everyone is locked down by their contract. GamesBeat spoke with the Twitch streamer ET Talon, who told us that he could not find an exclusivity clause anywhere in his contract.
“I just reread the damn thing,” said Talon. “[I] just can’t use Twitch’s intellectual property outside of Twitch.”
Again, Twitch won’t comment on any of this. So we’ll just have to wait and find out if it starts busting or threatening its partners. It will likely hold off on doing anything drastic like that unless its top talent starts leaving.