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.

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