Saturday, 7 January 2012

Internet Streaming

There are quite a few web streams I follow lately, mostly StarCraft related, and I was always fairly curious to know how much money the guys behind these things actually make from streaming. I was particularly interested in the SC2 players because their revenue from streaming is typically their main income besides what they earn through tournaments.

Most of my questions were answered earlier this week when one of the guys from the popular streaming site TwitchTV made a post on SCreddit detailing how their advertising system works. There's a whole ton of crap in there, but the key piece of info I took was that the average rate per ad for the broadcaster is around $5 per ad per 1000 effective viewers (that post says this is their most popular rate).

From this I did a few calculations. A SC2 player streaming their ladder games will probably play three or four games every hour. If they display two ads at the end of each game then this works out to around six ads an hour on the stream.

Typically the more popular streams will have anything from 4000 to 8000 viewers, sometimes more. Taking a base rate of around 5000 viewers, and assuming that only 60% of those see ads, because 40% are living in weird regions or using adblock or something, that gives us 3000 effective viewers for six ads an hour. With the $5 rate this works out to a pretty impressive $90 an hour.

Say players stream for five hours a day, and that they do this five days a week (most of the popular ones do it more like seven days a week, but then there's days off for tournaments and the like), this works out to roughly $120,000 a year, just from streaming ladder games that they'd be doing anyway.

My first thought to this was along the lines of "holy shit that's loads" and my first reaction was that I'd screwed up the calculation somewhere. As far as I can tell the calculation is correct, but I figured maybe some of the assumptions were wrong. I discussed this with a few people, and Emtee provided me with a couple of links, both related to the popular streamer, Destiny.

The first one was a post by him from May last year discussing his income from streaming on TeamLiquid. It shows his earnings from March 2011 being $4000, and this with a whole week where the revenue reporting bugged and didn't give him anything.

This was back in March, when the scene was a fair bit smaller and there weren't quite as many stream viewers around (myself included, because I didn't own SC2 at this point0). Looking a bit more recently, I also found this screenshot from his stream:

The first part of that graph clearly shows him earning around $300 a day on average, which is a $90,000 annual income if he streams 300 days a year. Definitely not bad for just streaming himself practising and dicking around in ladder games for several hours a day. And not particularly far off from what I'd calculated - you can make absolutely tons of money from a decent TwitchTV channel.

As well as TwitchTV, the revenues from YouTube don't seem to be that bad either. I recently got the ability to monetise the videos on my YouTube account, and I did so for the lulz, and it turns out that I actually make non-zero amounts of money through the handful of videos I monetised.

In total my videos get around 1,500 views a month (I have no idea why - most of them are either really niche or shite or both) and that makes me around £1 every month. A tiny amount, sure, but for the amount of views I'm getting it's not particularly terrible. Especially given that I already had the videos before when I wasn't making small amounts of cash from them.

Recently I started watching the Shadow of Israphel minecraft series on the Yogscast's BlueXephos YouTube channel. Not only do these guys have absolutely shittons of videos, but a huge number of them have between one and two million views each, with some having over five million. If I'm getting £1 for every 1500 views, then if things scale these guys are getting £1000 for every video they make, possibly more. I reckon the 81 videos in the Shadow of Israphel series alone have clocked up over £100,000, which is an astonishing amount for something that's recorded entirely within the minecraft game.

The thing with most of these things is that they're not just making large amounts of money, but that they require almost nothing to make besides time and creativity. If you've got a computer enough to stream from and a bit of talent, you can make some considerable money from it if you end up being successful. The latter part being a somewhat important factor, because there are no doubt large numbers of people trying to make this sort of thing and not really getting anywhere in terms of views, but the money is definitely there to be had.

If anyone has a cat that they're cool to have do stupid shit on camera, then I have a monetised YouTube account. I'll totally split the money with you.

Sunday, 1 January 2012

The Holiday Period

I was back home last week for the festive period. It was nice to see family and be home for a little bit, and it's also nice to be back in Cambridge now. I didn't so much enjoy the travelling though.

What I learnt on my way back up North was that the buses in Cambridge are absolutely shite. I've heard rumour and anecdotes from friends about how shit they are but I've never really used them much because I tend to walk/cycle everywhere. I've also never used them for something where it was crucial I arrived at a certain place at a certain time.

I took the bus to the train station because I live on the complete opposite side of the city, and was taking a pretty large 10kg holdall home with some clothes and a laptop and some other crap in it, and wasn't particularly keen trying to cycle with it. I arrived at the bus stop about five minutes early for a bus that should have gotten me to the station with around half an hour to spare. I figure this is reasonable, given the buses run every twenty minutes and the journey itself is only meant to take around 15-20 minutes as well. I thought I was playing it safe. Apparently not, because not only did I have to wait 23 minutes for the next bus to arrive, but it didn't even go the whole way along the route and I had to change in the city centre and wait for a different bus.

So this meant I was late at the station. I missed the train I was intending to get, and more importantly I missed the off-peak time for travelling through London, meaning I either couldn't go through London or I had to pay an extra £100 for the peak ticket. So yeah, the day sort of backed up my existing preconception that buses are completely balls.

Christmas was standard - I got the handful of fairly inexpensive things I'd asked for and a fair bit of dosh, ate lots of food, and most of my extended family had too much wine and there were a lot of dumb arguments around the table. I also won at Pictionary.

And that was Christmas. I got the train home with a now even heavier bag, and felt ill almost the whole way back. Plus the train from Wigan to London was absolutely rammed and I was really lucky to manage to find a seat.

New Year's was pretty good fun, with me and my housemates going out to the pub for a bit, before proceeding to go to a house party where only Nick was really that friendly with the people who lived there, and we didn't really know most of the people there. But it was fun anyway. And I kicked off the new year having to go for a pee in our back garden because the house only has one toilet, which was being hugged fairly hard by a housemate and I figured that moving him was probably not a wise idea.

Typically for the first blog post of the year I make some sort of attempt at posting New Year's Resolutions, but I can't really be bothered with that this year. They're a fairly pointless thing and nobody actually remembers their resolutions past maybe the second week in January. They are essentially a list of things people would like to do but have already sort of resigned themselves to the fact that they're probably not going to do them.

I had to look at the blog post for last year to find out what my resolutions were, and it turns out I actually managed to accomplish a fair number of them, although completely without the recollection that I'd resolved to do them a year ago.
(EDIT: Turns out when I read it properly I didn't make any last year either. Though I did do a decent job of managing to accomplish crap I intended to do in 2010. Only took me two years to get around to it.)

Whilst I can't be bothered with annual resolutions, I do have a few things that I really want to get done before I leave for training camp (10th Jan), namely getting job applications sorted, completing Batman: Arkham Asylum (which is an awesome game), and finishing all the series that I'm currently halfway through watching and haven't gotten around to wrapping up yet. Those being in rough descending order of importance, and also in rough descending order of how likely they actually are to happen.

As much as I've slowed down on the blogging front, I still managed to get 77 written last year, which still averages above one a week (though if I'd not clocked up a load inter-railing that probably wouldn't be the case). I also recently breezed through my 200th blog post without noticing, so I guess that's something of a milestone too.

Anyway, to people reading this I hope you all have a good 2012 and all the best et cetera.