- Twitch, the streaming service owned by Amazon, announced a multi-year partnership with Disney Digital Network to offer exclusive content from four of the largest Disney-managed digital content creators: Jacksepticeye, LuzuGames, Markiplier and Strawburry17, according to a news release.
- The creators will manage their own Twitch channels, where they will broadcast live and create exclusive video-on-demand content. Some of the creators had existing Twitch channels, and the partnership will give them access to the platform's tools and community to help monetize and grow their channels.
- Sean McLoughlin (Jacksepticeye) has more than 17 million subscribers and is known for a variety of video content, including vlogs, sketches, music and animated shorts. Mark Fischback (Markiplier) has more than 19 million subscribers and creates videos of him and his friends playing and commenting on video games. Meghan Camarena (Strawburry17) is a former contestant of "The Amazing Race" and posts multi-genre content, including vlogs, gaming, cosplay, music, DIY and more. Luzu is an English-language spinoff of the Spanish-language channel LuzuGames focused on video game Let's Plays, vlogs and collaborative videos.
The Disney Digital Network deal is a potentially significant win for Amazon's Twitch in its digital video rivalry with Google's YouTube. All four of the creators are YouTube influencers with large audiences. Their agreement to produce exclusive content for Twitch in a multi-year partnership underpins how YouTube, amid brand safety snags that have warded off advertisers and hurt the revenue of creators, might be starting to lose some of its foothold as influencer talent migrates elsewhere. Many YouTubers, especially in the gaming category, stream on Twitch and then upload clips of their streams to YouTube, but the exclusivity of the new partnership makes it sound like Disney Digital Network's creators won't be able to do that.
YouTube was early to the digital video space with its launch in 2005 — it was bought by Google a year later — and has remained the de facto platform for a variety of video content since. However, starting last year, controversies involving top creators, coupled with the appearance of ads next to violent and extremist content, led to public backlash and some advertisers boycotting the platform. YouTube has introduced a number of changes to address these issues, including hiring 10,000 human staffers to review content. Earlier this week, it outlined a more stringent policy for who can have their videos monetized, appeasing brands but creating new hurdles for creators by making it harder for them to make money from their channels, which have already taken serious hits to revenue potential. If there are fewer attractive and eligible channels on YouTube, marketers could look elsewhere to advertise.
Twitch and its parent company are seizing on this perceived weakness in YouTube by introducing better monetization tools along with luring more influencers. Amazon recently announced that it will begin selling video ads on the Amazon Advertising Platform for Twitch, which had been selling its own ads, along with its other properties that support video. Amazon can offer advertisers the added value of its extensive user data, specifically purchase history and Amazon Prime video viewing habits.