Broadcasters on Twitch now have a new way to earn revenue. The streaming platform will roll out of a feature called “Cheering” into limited beta today—and chat will never be the same.
Cheering is, essentially, blinged-up chat messages. For the first time Twitch is introducing animated emotes. Called “bits,” viewers can purchase them through the chat window on participating channels, then use them in chat to show love for the broadcaster, celebrate a win or a milestone, or (knowing Twitch chat) to ensure their troll messages stand out.
Bits come in increments, with different animations for 1 bit, 100 bits, 1,000 bits, 5,000 bits, and 10,000 bits. The minimum purchase is $1.40, which will get you 100 bits. A percentage of each purchase goes to the broadcaster, similar to the subscription feature.
“If channel subscriptions are the equivalent to holding season tickets to your favorite sports team, Cheering is like getting a crowd wave started during the game,” said Twitch CEO Emmett Shear in the press release—a crowd wave that costs each person money to participate.
While cheering could turn out to be a great way to show positive reinforcement for streamers, it could also bring some downsides. It could make spamming and trolling, a problem on many channels already, even worse. With the added ability to make messages more obvious, viewers could use the feature to highlight racist or hateful comments. Decent moderation should help reduce this (and at least the broadcaster would make some money off the comment), but not every channel is well moderated. There’s also the chance a channel could get overwhelmed if cheering become widespread, with hundreds or even thousands of animated emotes going off at once in chat.
To use bits, viewers type “cheer” in chat, followed by the number of bits they want to use, e.g. cheer10 or cheer1000. Each time you type cheer in chat, even if it’s multiple times in the same message, you’ll be charged for however many bits you use. Cheering could also earn you a special chat badge, with the minimum threshold set by the broadcasters themselves.
The limited beta only includes a few dozen partnered channels at the moment, with the feature eventually rolling out for more streamers as Twitch receives community feedback and refines the program—although no timeline was given.
The channels included in the beta include some of the biggest names on Twitch: Bacon_donut, brotatoe, cobaltstreak, cohhcarnage, dansgaming, ezekiel_iii, Femsteph, futuremangaming, Giantwaffle, goldglove, iijeriichoii, itmejp, Joshog, lirik, Lolrenaynay, omgitsfirefoxx, pianoimproman, professorbroman, reynad27, sevadus, Streamerhouse, Swiftor, and timthetatman.
Twitch will also enable third party integration, so broadcasters can create custom on-screen acknowledgements of viewers that use bits, similar to what currently exists for donations.
The full list broadcasters invited to the cheering beta is available on Twitch’s blog.