What is Kick, the streaming platform that’s signed up xQc?

Amouranth and xQc have millions of online followers between them, and have recently moved to Kick

If you want to watch your favourite streamer, chances are you’ll jump on Twitch. But is that about to change?

Rival Kick has been grabbing headlines after it poached Amouranth and xQc – two of the biggest names on the Amazon-owned platform.

Those high-profile converts have inspired other smaller streamers to follow them, helped by the promise of a larger revenue cut.

But not everyone is sold and opinions are mixed on the new contender.

It’s fair to say Twitch has had a tough time recently – some streamers quit in protest against plans for stricter advertising rules, forcing it to abandon them.

And then Amouranth and xQc went Kick in the space of 48 hours.

It’s reported that xQc was tempted over with a deal worth about $100m (£78m), although he’s been broadcasting on both platforms since.

Twitch vs Kick

If you jump on Kick, which launched officially in January this year, you’ll notice it looks quite similar to Twitch.

There’s the usual rolling page of livestreams which you can filter by category or game title.

And there’s a chat, where fans can talk to each other and the person streaming, with options to subscribe or tip the creator.

Payment’s one of the big differences – and big attractions – of Kick.

At the moment, it’s letting all content creators keep 95% of their subscription revenue, compared with Twitch’s 50% and YouTube’s 70%.

For streamers like Dean, also known as AverageDad, that makes switching a no-brainer.

Dean says he can earn more money by streaming on Kick

“Why would you not want to make twice as much as you would do on another platform?” he says.

Dean, from Greater Manchester, left Twitch earlier this month and now streams on various platforms including Kick, which he says will give Twitch “a good old fight”.

“At the end of the day, content creators want to earn revenue every which way possible,” he says.

High stakes

Another big difference between the two is Kick’s more relaxed content policy.

And its gambling streams, which feature prominently on the platform and regularly appear in its top three categories, have been a talking point.

Kick was co-founded by Ed Craven, the billionaire owner of crypto and betting site Stake.com, which sponsors Alfa Romeo’s F1 team and Everton FC.

Stake.com was among the accounts banned during a recent gambling crackdown on Twitch.

And some streamers, including hugely popular Pokimane, have said Kick’s gambling links put them off.

She told her 9.3m followers moving there would compromise her morals.

But Dean dismisses much of the criticism as a “smear campaign” because there are still some gambling streams on Twitch, such as slots and roulette streams from companies officially licensed to run them.

As well as investing in Kick, Stake.com sponsors Everton FC

Some streamers have also described Kick as a much more toxic place, particularly for LGBT streamers and people of colour.

They say there are fewer options for dealing with harassment and abuse.

Nic from Leeds, otherwise known as NicScreams, says streaming on Kick wouldn’t feel safe for her or her community of followers.

She’s also concerned about some big signings, such as Adin Ross, who was banned from Twitch.

“He’s quite openly homophobic. He’s openly misogynistic,” says Nic.

“There are videos of him abusing random women on the internet because of their appearance, and nothing happens.

“He’s still streaming and he’s still making money on Kick.”

BBC Newsbeat’s asked Kick for a comment and is waiting for a response.

It’s fair to point out the platform isn’t a content free-for-all – it does have rules against drug use and discrimination.

And xQc already got in trouble for copyright infringement when he streamed Batman film The Dark Knight on his channel.

But Nic says she feels that Twitch does more to combat hate speech.

“If there’s something going down in my stream that I don’t like or my community doesn’t like, I know that Twitch will look out for me,” she says.

Nic describes her channel on Twitch as a safe space for women and the LGBT+ community

Nic admits, though, that it’s become more difficult to make money on Twitch, and she’s gone from streaming full-time to part-time.

Although it backed down on proposals to restrict its advertising options, it’s still going ahead with another unpopular measure.

It’s banning simulcasting, where streamers go live on multiple different platforms at the same time- something many do to boost their income.

“Financially, it’s terrible to stream on Twitch,” says Nic.

“You work really hard to turn this into a career or a side hustle, and it feels like Twitch are very quick to take that away.”

Ninja has since re-joined Twitch since Mixer was shut down

So will Kick be a success?

Lots of people have pointed out similarities to Mixer – a short-lived Twitch competitor launched by Microsoft.

It made headlines by signing up popular Fortnite streamer Ninja in a deal worth $50m (£39m), but was shut down just a year later.

So far, perhaps not surprisingly, Amouranth and xQc’s Kick follower numbers are nowhere near their Twitch levels.

But Dean is convinced Kick will be different.

“I think the conversation is going to be more about Kick in five years than Twitch,” he says.

Kick’s suggested more big names like xQc will be joining, and Dean thinks that can only help streamers like him.

“When xQc stops streaming, all of his viewers don’t just go, ‘I’m not going to watch any more’,” he says.

“They’ll hang out for a little bit, maybe look at some different streams, which is going to allow that platform to constantly evolve and constantly move forward.”

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