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Twitch Prime changes are worrying streamers around the world

Streamers worry about what these changes could do to their subs

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Amazon Prime tape on box stock photo Samit Sarkar/Polygon

Chad Porter, better known as “Chyadosensei,” is a prominent streamer who has reaped the benefits of Twitch Prime since it came to Japan in December 2017.

That was only nine months ago, but Porter tells Polygon that the service has had an unquestionable impact on his stream.

Now, Porter, along with many of his favorite streamers and personal friends in Japan, worry that changes to Twitch Prime will have an irreparable effect on their steaming livelihood. Earlier this week, Twitch announced that its Prime subscription service would no longer offer ad-free viewing. Losing subscribers — many of who subscribe to channels through Twitch Prime — is a top concern for Porter and other vocal streamers around the world.

“As of right now the Twitch Prime subs have been constant but I feel like a lot of them are simply going to vanish since a lot of Japanese use other websites for shopping aka Rakuten [Amazon’s biggest competitor, according to Porter], Kakaku and Yahoo Auction,” Porter says. “A lot of conversations on Twitter are all circulating about just only using Prime to get game items and then immediately canceling till they see something worth getting. I feel like the extra no-ads and free sub really drove the bargain home.”

Porter isn’t the only streamer who feels this way. Most countries in Europe, with the exception of the U.K. and Germany, use Twitch Prime for ad-free viewing. Being able to toss a subscription to a streamer, which came built into the original subscription price, was an added benefit.

“Actually as someone not profiting from anything else on Amazon Prime due to the country I live in, there is no purpose in continuing Amazon Prime when the only real purpose I had from it was the ad free viewing on Twitch,” streamer Aenoa, who lives in Switzerland, tweeted.

“Prime is the only reason I don’t use adblock on Twitch,” another streamer based in Europe, Anyi, tweeted. “For people in Europe, besides UK and Germany who have Amazon, I bet most of us only pay for Prime Video for Twitch Prime so it doesn’t make sense for us here. I’d happily swap to only Turbo if I got the extra sub for that too with the rest of the perks.”

Twitch Turbo is the company’s original — and now only — ad-free subscription service. There are a couple of notable differences between it and Twitch Prime, which also offered ad-free experiences. Twitch Turbo isn’t rolled into an Amazon Prime subscription, so it will cost people an additional $8.99 per month. Twitch Turbo also doesn’t give subscribers a free subscription upon signing up, which means that if people stop using Amazon Prime subscriptions, and switch over to Twitch Turbo for ad-free viewing, those gift subscriptions will start to fade away.

Tyler “Ninja” Blevins is one of the most prominent streamers in the world, and reaped the free gift subscription when the Fortnite phenomenon took off. His subscription base jumped by hundreds of thousands of people overnight, many of which seemed to come from new Twitch Prime subscriptions as more people tuned in to watch and stream themselves. Earlier this year, Twitch celebrated the success of Twitch Prime, and how positive it was for streamers.

“​We’ve seen large numbers of players trying Twitch Prime for the first time, getting free loot, and using their first monthly free channel subscription,” a Twitch representative told Polygon at the time. “It’s great to see many broadcasters getting a bump from these new Twitch Prime members. New members are subscribing to these popular Fortnite channels and we haven’t seen any indication of bot activity.”

Now, those gift subscription numbers may dwindle.

“A lot of Japan streamers try to encourage a lot of viewers to use Twitch Turbo, which allows the commercials to go away, [but] I think even with the push for Twitch Turbo it still will hinder the majority of subs a lot of streamers got,” Porter says. “I myself included refuse to put ads on my stream since I solely rely on subs to differentiate the watch time. Supporting a streamer and not seeing ads is really great. But not just seeing ads is no different from buying Google’s service YouTube premium membership.”

Porter’s argument is that Turbo may be great for people who just want to skip over ads, similar to YouTube Premium, but it doesn’t allow them to directly support a streamer. There is no additional Twitch sub for a streamer that comes with Turbo. Porter thinks that if Twitch is going to make most people switch over to Turbo in order to reap ad-free viewing, than giving people a free sub for a streamer with their Turbo subscription should be included.

“Twitch Prime wasn’t fully integrated into Japan until the near end of last year,” Porter said. “So basically Japanese viewers only had the privilege of no-ad Twitch with their Prime account for about 10 months. Now everyone — including myself — is in shock of the sudden bait and switch that is happening. The possible best solution is to give out free subs with those who use Twitch Turbo. Although it is a huge loss for Amazon since they just started having the premium membership affect Twitch Japan viewers, I feel like the only reason why people even bothered getting prime was to get that extra feel of support for the streamers they cared about.”

It’s unclear if Twitch is gearing up to do that, but Polygon has reached out for comment.