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YouTube copies Twitch with feature that lets you tip your favorite stars $2

Viewers can now “clap” at their favorite YouTube stars as another way for creators to earn money through the Google-owned video platform. The donation feature mirrors one offered by Amazon gaming streaming service Twitch and may be another way for YouTube to lure e-sports streamers from the popular niche platform.

The feature is officially called “viewer applause” on YouTube and rests nest to the Like and Dislike buttons for viewers and can be enabled in a creator’s dashboard. However, the feature is in the beta testing phase and only a small number of creators with more than 100,000 subscribers have access to it at this point.

YouTube already has a similar donation feature on livestreams called SuperChat through which viewers can pay to have a comment pinned to a livestream’s chat feed. The higher the amount the viewer chooses to donate, the longer the comment is pinned. The company did not respond to a request for comment about how viewer applause and SuperChat are different or if they may be combined in the future.

Viewers can pay $2 per clap, with a cap of “$500 per day, or $2,000 per week on Super Chats, Super Stickers, and Viewer applause combined,” according to a Google product blog post. It is unclear how that amount was calculated but for creators the 70-30 split with YouTube on SuperChats will be the same for claps.

Twitch also offers a donation feature and it is one of the ways creators on that platform have monetized people watching them play, comment on, and compete in e-sports. There are also paid subscriptions and advertising avenues available as well. The latest move by YouTube is not the first time it has directly challenged Twitch’s core customer base.

It recently lured three Twitch gamers — Rachell “Valkyrae” Hofstetter, Elliott “Muselk” Watkins, and Lannan “LazarBeam” Eacott — into streaming exclusively on YouTube. The caveat here is that the trio already had a combined 21 million followers on YouTube before agreed to the deal. But, the news of their departure came after high-profile Twitch gamers like Tyler “Ninja” Blevins and Michael “Shroud” Grzesiek also left. The company declined to comment on how they may combat this type of poaching from YouTube, Microsoft’s Mixer, and Facebook Gaming in the future.

How fans react to watching their favorite gamers on different platforms remains to be seen, especially if who they are following both gamers who stayed on Twitch and those who left for another service. Streaming tournaments could be a good measure of fan response though. YouTube also recently streamed the e-sports tournament Overwatch League, previously hosted by Twitch.  A bright spot for Twitch: Last year the service had an average of approximately 97,000 viewers during the opening weekend compared to YouTube’s approximately 60,000 in 2020.

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Mythili Sampathkumar
Mythili is a freelance journalist based in New York. When not reporting about politics, foreign policy, entertainment, and…
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