My take on recent mid-roll ads idea on Twitch

Well I’ll start with ez tl;dr – “It is a really bad idea to add mid-roll ads on Twitch”, that’s it, you read it, nothing to see here – move along.

But seriously it’s a part of a long “paradigm shift” that Twitch is doing to increase their ad revenue through us, streamers working on increasing our ad revenue, current clown fiesta is second move in that process, first I didn’t dedicate a blog post too, because it actually seemed quite good and didn’t stir any drama, but let’s discuss it more.

So it’s not a secret that Twitch wants more advertisers money, I mean wanting more money is quite a natural state for companies and people in general. But even with all the advertisers you can’t really put that money in your pocket if you don’t have their ads being shown to people, which obviously involves us and our channels as extra chain link between advertisers and those who see the ads. But since Twitch streamers have many other ways to monetize their content, they usually don’t even bother with ads, some you can hear even saying that they don’t want to run any ads and some would even disable pre-rolls if they could, pretty big streamers too. So in the end that important chain link that supposed to provide advertisers with platform for their ads kinda refuses to do so and the only ads that mostly happen on platform are pre-rolls just because they are forced on us. So when you enter the channel that you aren’t subbed to, you get a bunch of ads dropped on you and you or streamer can’t do anything about it, or well couldn’t until recently.

So now after small introduction we are coming to what Twitch is changing recently about it – first thing wasn’t too obvious and it was them removing ad free experience from Twitch Prime subscription. Back in a day, not even boomer levels of back in a day you weren’t getting any ads if you had a prime sub – that was revoked not too long ago, now ad free is separate feature that existed since forever and that is called Twitch Turbo, which is not very popular, at least I don’t think it is. Change wasn’t very nice, but Prime benefits are still very good and it wasn’t a lot of complaining then, but that was a part of a bigger picture. Second thing was Twitch allowing streamers to remove pre-rolls from their channels for some time if they run ads themselves. That thing I actually liked, because pre-rolls are something we are not getting rid of, so ability to replace pre-rolls with ads that you can control was good. It was supposed to be nice and I even used it a few times, thought it might become norm on Twitch, but no one is actually doing it from what I know, I also was just constantly forgetting to run ads and kinda abandoned it in the end completely. So what are they trying to do now, third thing? They are forcing mid-rolls now, so random people that are not subbed will get ads randomly while watching stream, which you can disable by running ads on your own too.

What’s the problem with pre-rolls and mid-rolls? Both things are pretty bad, because it basically “covers” some of your content with ads while you have no control over it. You are speedrunning, your run is amazing, you have a very important boss fight coming and everyone joining the stream to see that won’t be able to see it because of ads (pre-roll) and some people watching already will also get ads dropped on them (mid-roll) missing that important fight. With pre-roll it is a bit better, because people already know how it is – they know that they will get ads while joining, it’s inevitable pretty much, but with mid-roll you can already be there watching the run and then get ads out of nowhere – that honestly would piss me off quite a bit. Perfect example of shitty mid-rolls already happened when some streamers who were co-streaming Playstation event yesterday got mid-rolls, so you are doing activity allowed by Twitch, promoted by Twitch even – watching stuff together with your community and then you get random ad ruining yours and your community’s experience, making everyone miss the show. So if they tried to look at youtube with mid-rolls – it doesn’t work like this, adding uncontrolled ads in livestream is dumb, absolutely dumb, also speaking of youtube they at least have scroll bar right in live broadcast, so if there are mid-rolls in live content (I actually dunno if there are on YT, I don’t watch it almost at all), then you can at least quickly with no lag and pain scroll back in time to see stuff that you missed due to ad and then scroll back to live feed – there is no such thing on Twitch and you need to go through a lot of pain to watch missed stuff that will probably end up with you missing more live content trying to watch VOD of ongoing stream due to lags and all that jazz.

In the end what we have here? Twitch wants us to run ads more. You want people to get no pre-rolls? Run ads. You want people to get no mid-rolls? Run ads. I really dislike the fact that they threw another completely new bad mechanic to “motivate” us to run ads instead of working on some other motivation, maybe through already existing ways like with removing pre-roll for example. Problem of running ads to remove pre-roll is actually really simple – you need to run 90 seconds of ads every 30 minutes, so you need to remember that and to interrupt your stream for that time every 30 minutes, simply just make it 180 seconds aka 3 minutes once per hour and I’ll be fine with it. I’d say many people would be fine with it and it would even be good for streamers health – just take 3 minutes break: stretch/get some water/go to the bathroom/grab some food once per hour and get back to the stream, perfect I’d say, but every 30 minutes is a bit too much of a distraction and interruption. Also another thing would be good to have “cumulative” ads you played, so you can for example run ads a bit more in the beginning while chilling and in the end while finishing stream, maybe doing a food break with extra ad too, but then you speedrun or do something that requires you to focus on it for a couple of hours and you don’t need to worry about running those ads. I think those things would make this feature a lot better and more convenient, that would be a good start and foundation, can add more motivation and improve our ad experience more later, but basics first, not adding extra mechanic to force us.

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