How much do Twitch Streamers make in 2021?

There is a huge amount of money in the Twitch streaming ecosystem. You can make tons of money if you become a well known Streamer and your channel gains popularity. There are hundreds of ways people can make money, and many ways can come outside of Twitch itself.

While some streamers have been around for years, others are newer to the scene, and potential future streaming stars. However, with more and more streamers per month coming onto the scene, what is the potential income a streamer can make? While it varies from streamer to streamer, there are some general guidelines that can be used to determine potential earnings, including subscriptions, ads, sponsor streams, and more!

Twitch Affiliate and Twitch Partner

Whether a small, medium or large streamer goal is in mind, the first step to earning a consistent monthly income from Twitch is to become an Affiliate. To qualify for becoming a Twitch Affiliate the streamer must meet these criteria:

  • Reach 50 Followers
  • Average 3 concurrent viewers or more in the last 30 days
  • Go Live at least 7 unique days in the last 30 days
  • At least 500 total minutes streamed in the last 30 days

Once Twitch Affiliate is reached the next goal should be obtaining Twitch Partner where the real monetization of your channel can start. To qualify for Twitch Partner the criteria must be met below:

  • Average 75 average viewers in the last 30 days
  • Stream for 25 hours in the last 30 days
  • Go Live at least 12 unique days in the last 30 days

Ways Twitch Streamers Make Money

Reaching at least Twitch Affiliate will open up opportunities to earn from bits, subscriptions, and ads. Twitch Partner opens greater chances for Stream Sponsorships – although Twitch Affiliates could obtain a sponsorship too, but highly unlikely. Some 3rd party options for bringing in additional income are donations (Streamlabs/StreamElements/Paypal), affiliate marketing, selling merchandise, and participating in tournaments.

Donations

Donations are the most direct method a viewer can support the streamer. There are two ways a streamer can accept donations.

The first being through bits purchased from Twitch and then cheered to the streamer through chat.

Bits donation through Twitch

You can think of bits as the currency of Twitch. For the receiving streamer it comes out to be 1 bit equals $0.01. However, for the bit donator (the viewer) Twitch takes a cut (fee) from your purchase making 1 bit more expensive than $0.01. For example, one can purchase 100 bits for $1.40, but the streamer would only receive $1.00. Twitch takes a $0.40 cut.


The second donation method is outside of Twitch through 3rd party providers such as Streamlabs or StreamElements which offer zero processing fees. This allows the exact amount you choose to donate to reach the streamer’s pockets.

SE.Pay (StreamElements) Tipping Page
SE.Pay (StreamElements) Tipping Page

Subscriptions

Subscriptions are one of the more popular income streams for most streamers. One of the most significant benefits of subscriptions is that it proves a monthly recurring income for the streamer. There are three tier levels for subs, each being monthly recurring contributions to the streamer. Tier 1 at $4.99, Tier 2 at $9.99, and Tier 3 at $24.99.

The stream and Twitch will share a 50:50 split of the subscription fee; however, larger Twitch Partners can negotiate a higher percentage most commonly a 70:30 ratio split.

Let us take a look at real-world examples of the subscription incomes of top streamers. At the time of writing, according to Twitch Tracker the largest channels are bringing in:

Streamer ChannelCurrent Subs
(June 2021)
Estimated Monthly
Sub Income
xQcOw81,774$204,435
NickMercs63,741$159,353
HasanAbi45,435113,838
Summit1g36,109$90,273
TimtheTatman27,705$69,263
Assuming all Tier 1 subs at $2.50. Actual income will probably higher.

As you can see, for the top streamers the income from subscriptions can be substantial. Mind you this is MONTHLY income, if you expand this to annual income it would translate to over $1 million per year in subs alone!! Add other avenues of income on top of this and you can see how crazy the potential of wealth streaming can bring to somebody.

If we look at the average partnered pro-streamers, most are bringing in between $3,000-5,000 per month from subscriptions.

Now for the average affiliate streamer, you could expect much lesser values of course. Until one reaches Partnered status, the streamer usually sees between $50-1000 a month from subscriptions. For example, if you are a 100 viewer streamer with about 20% viewers (20) being subscribers then that would equate to $50 (20 x $2.50) a month from subscriptions.

Advertisement

Advertisement is another area where a streamer can bring in some additional income. There are two methods for advertisement, video cut-in adds and banner adds either part of the streamer’s on-screen overlay or a banner on their channel page.

Video Ads by pre-roll and display are offered by Twitch using standard IAB (Interactive Advertising Burea). These are advertising opportunities where the streamer issues a 30-second interruption to their content to enforce short advertising commercials. The streamer is paid according to the CPM model (Cost per Impression) where they are paid for every 1,000 views. The amount earned per 1,000 impressions is hard to quantify as each streamer usually has their own personalized contract defining their own rates and rewards. Most of the time these contracts include confidential clauses locking any further discussion of the amount earned from the public.

For on-screen overlay advertisement and channel page advertisement, streamers can average $250 per 100 subscribers. (Source: CNBC Interview with GuardianOutpost) Now, this can add up if you have a large following with high subscriber numbers.

Sponsorships

Sponsorship can come in different forms. A company can pay a streamer to promote their brand through either displaying their logo or products on stream or even if forms of live paid streams.

Starting with the lesser of the two. Companies can sponsor streamers by providing free products for the streamer to use and if turn the stream promotes customers to also use the same product. This could be gaming equipment (headsets, keyboards, gaming chairs), merchandise (displates, clothing), and even food and beverage (Game Fuel, GFuel, coffee). Usually, there is a referral link on the stream where purchases made will give the streamer some form of commission.

The second form of sponsorship is paid live streaming where a company (usually game developers) will pay a streamer to provide direct content relating to their product for a designated time period. The incentive for the game developer is to pay a streamer to get as many eyes as possible on their game in hopes of hyping it up and gaining impulse buyers to jump on board and play. This can be an area where serious many can be easily made. The rate the streamer gets paid can be negotiated from $0.01 to $1.00 per viewer per hour. Let that sink in for a minute. Say you have 5,000 viewers and have a paid stream for 2 hours playing a new game, that would pay you anywhere between $100 to $10,000 depending on the negotiated rate.

What are the Top Streamers earning?

It is estimated that the top streamers on Twitch are pulling in over $1-2 million per year.

It’s important to point out that the top streamers on Twitch are doing more behind the scenes besides just streaming in front of the camera to maximize their earnings. They may appear as the stereotype gamer bums playing video games for 12 hours a day, but the reality is they are brilliant businessmen and women off-camera. Some examples could be working affiliate marketing, endorsements, or even getting into real estate by purchases property and converting it into a gamer house, and renting out rooms to other streamers.

Conclusion Reality

For the many small-time streamers reading. Yes, most of these numbers look very exciting and can certainly live a healthy lifestyle off it, but that’s looking at the top 5% of Twitch. It’s a very long and difficult road to reach those achievements and only getting more competitive as Twitch grows year after year.

Most streamers fall in the category of making under $1,000 a month. New streamers reaching affiliate status will probably see many months only bringing in $100-200 a month. Through consistency and growing your content you can certainly climb higher in time. Dedicate your effort to establishing your brand and entertainment value to stand out amongst the crowd.

Looking for more tips for becoming a successful streamer?
Check out our Top 5 Tips for Becoming a Successful Streamer 2021