How Do Streamers Make Money?

Streamers are no longer exclusively defined as the long, narrow strips of decorative material used in celebrations and other special events. In the era of the internet, streamers are individuals who spend their time creating content for a community of engaged and passionate fans. Many streamers broadcast themselves playing video games to live audiences, while others hold virtual cooking demonstrations or simply chat with others. The video live streaming industry is worth approximately $70 billion and is projected to grow to $224 billion in the next seven years

Revenue SourceDescriptionAdvantagesDrawbacksExamples
SubscriptionsViewers can subscribe to a streamer’s channel for a monthly fee, providing a steady income stream. Streamers often offer tiered subscription levels with varying benefits.– Provides reliable monthly income – Encourages viewer loyalty – Offers tiered benefits for subscribers– Streamers share a portion of subscription revenue with the platform (e.g., Twitch) – Limited to viewers who can afford to subscribeNinja on Twitch, Pokimane on Twitch
Donations and TipsViewers can donate money directly to streamers during live broadcasts. This can be a significant source of income, especially for popular streamers with a loyal fan base.– Direct and immediate support – No platform fees – Can be substantial for popular streamers– Donation amounts can vary greatly – Not guaranteed income – Relies on viewer generosityxQc, Amouranth, Asmongold on Twitch
Ad RevenueStreamers earn money from ads shown on their streams. Advertisements can be pre-roll, mid-roll, or display ads. Earnings depend on the number of views and ad engagement.– Passive income stream – No direct viewer cost – Potential for increased earnings with more viewers– Ad revenue can fluctuate – Ad-block usage by viewers can impact earnings – May disrupt the viewing experienceLudwig, Valkyrae on Twitch
SponsorshipsStreamers may partner with brands and companies for sponsorships. They promote products or services during their streams, and in return, they receive payment or free products.– Additional income source – Collaborations with well-known brands – Potential for long-term partnerships– Must align with the streamer’s brand and values – May require specific content or endorsement obligations – Viewer skepticism towards sponsored contentNinja’s Red Bull partnership, Pokimane’s HyperX sponsorship
Affiliate MarketingStreamers use affiliate links to promote products or services. When viewers make purchases through these links, the streamer earns a commission on the sale.– Earn commissions on sales – Diverse affiliate opportunities – No additional cost to viewers– Relies on viewer conversions – Disclosure requirements for transparency – May lead to viewer skepticism towards affiliate linksShroud’s Amazon affiliate links, TimTheTatman’s gaming gear recommendations
Merchandise SalesStreamers often sell their own merchandise, such as clothing, posters, or accessories, to their fans. This can be a lucrative revenue stream, especially for popular personalities.– Direct revenue from branded products – Strengthening the streamer’s brand – High-profit margins for custom merchandise– Requires investment in design and production – Inventory management and shipping logistics – Target audience must be interested in purchasing merchPokimane’s merchandise line, xQc’s custom apparel
Twitch Bits and CheersOn platforms like Twitch, viewers can purchase virtual items called “Bits” and “Cheers” to support streamers. Streamers receive a portion of the revenue generated from these purchases.– Microtransactions provide continuous income – Viewer engagement through interactions – No direct cost to viewers– Platform (e.g., Twitch) takes a percentage of earnings – Requires an engaged and supportive viewer base – Bit purchases are not available in all countriesCohhCarnage, LIRIK on Twitch
Tournaments and EventsSome streamers participate in esports tournaments or host their own events. Prize money from tournaments and ticket sales from events contribute to their income.– Potentially significant prize money – Revenue from ticket sales and event merchandise – Expanding audience through event exposure– Competitive gaming skills required for tournament earnings – Event organization can be resource-intensive – Event success not guaranteedNinja’s participation in Fortnite tournaments, DreamHack Online Events
Exclusive ContentStreamers may offer exclusive content or access to a private community for subscribers or patrons who pay a monthly fee.– Creates a sense of exclusivity – Additional recurring income – Engages dedicated fans– Content must justify the subscription cost – Balancing free and exclusive content can be challenging – Requires continuous content creation and managementCohhCarnage’s VIP community, Asmongold’s subscriber benefits
YouTube and Content PlatformsStreamers often upload highlights or edited versions of their streams to platforms like YouTube, where they can earn revenue from ads and sponsorships.– Expanding reach to a broader audience – Diversifying income sources – Monetization opportunities through ads and sponsorships– Time-consuming content creation and editing – Competition on content platforms – Earnings may vary based on video views and audience engagementCorpse Husband’s YouTube channel, Valkyrae’s YouTube content




Advertising is a common way to make money as a streamer, particularly for those who have an established presence.

Advertising may appear before, during, and after a live stream, with most streamers making around 10 to 30 cents per ad view on YouTube.

On the Twitch platform, advertising fees vary according to the season and demand. However, advertising revenue is typically between $2 and $10 per 1,000 views.

Partnership programs

Some streaming platforms also run exclusive partnership programs for their very best streamers. 

The Twitch Partner Program is an invite-only scheme designed for streamers who built their community from scratch. Streamers get access to additional revenue streams such as a three-tiered monthly subscription model and the ability to run video commercials.

They also get access to custom subscriber badges and emotes, which we will talk about in more detail below.

It is estimated that the top ten Twitch partners gross an estimated $20 million.

Fan donations

Streamers also make money via fan donations.

Twitch users can cheer on their favorite streamers by purchasing a virtual good called a bit – equivalent to $0.01.

In return, streamers can customize their channel and reward their most supportive subscribers with a range of emotes, which are Twitch-specific symbols used to express a range of in-chat feelings and emotions.

These two acts work to reinforce each other, increasing fan engagement and increasing revenue across multiple channels.

YouTube does not have an in-built donation system, but many streamers there take donations via Patreon or Streamlabs instead.

Paid subscriptions

For Twitch users, subscription income is a significant source of revenue. They earn 50% of all subscription fees which are offered in increments of $4.99, $9.99, and $24.99 per month.

YouTube gamers can also offer paid subscriptions, though the streamer must have at least 30,000 subscribers and be a YouTube Partner.

Creators decide how much they will charge subscribers and what perks subscribers will receive across the various tier options.


Live streamers are also sponsored by brands that operate in a similar niche or industry. These sponsorships can take the form of a single campaign or evolve into a longer-term brand ambassadorship.

As you may have guessed, video game sponsorships are the most common. These brands may send the streamer products to use or promote to their audiences.

Alternatively, some brands will pay for the travel expenses and sign-up fees associated with the streamer participating in a tournament or competition.

Affiliate marketing

Provided they meet certain criteria, streamers can sign up for an affiliate program and promote Amazon products through their channels.

Betting is another source of affiliate income that is starting to become more popular.

Professional players and esports athletes are partnering with betting providers to allow bets to be placed on in-game outcomes during live streams.

In exchange for sending users to the betting site, the streamer takes a cut of the revenue.


YouTube streamers can choose up to 12 items to display on a merchandise shelf provided they source their products from a list of partnering suppliers.

Many Twitch users also sell a range of branded and highly personalized merchandise, though the process there is a little more involved.

Streamers will be required to design their goods through a service like Canva and then sell them through an eCommerce platform such as Shopify or Redbubble. 

Key takeaways:

  • The video live streaming industry is worth approximately $70 billion and is projected to grow to $224 billion in the next seven years. The ways streamers make money today are as interesting as they are varied.
  • Streamers utilize video advertising, which is shown before, during, and after live streaming events. For larger audiences, fan donations and paid subscriptions are effective ways to make money.
  • Streamers are also sponsored in short and long-term arrangements by industry or niche-related brands. Others prefer to earn revenue by engaging in affiliate marketing. Merchandise is also a worthwhile income stream, despite it being the most labor intensive.

Key Highlights

  • Video Live Streaming Industry:
    • The video live streaming industry is currently valued at around $70 billion.
    • It is projected to grow significantly, reaching an estimated value of $224 billion within the next seven years.
  • Diverse Income Streams for Streamers:
    • Streamers are individuals who create content for online communities and engage with fans.
    • They utilize various strategies to earn income from their live streaming activities.
  • Advertising:
    • Advertising is a common income source for established streamers.
    • Ads can appear before, during, and after live streams.
    • Earnings per ad view on YouTube are typically around 10 to 30 cents, while on Twitch, it varies between $2 and $10 per 1,000 views.
  • Partnership Programs:
    • Some streaming platforms offer partnership programs for top streamers.
    • The Twitch Partner Program provides additional revenue streams, like monthly subscriptions and video commercials.
    • Custom subscriber badges and emotes enhance engagement and revenue.
  • Fan Donations:
    • Streamers earn money through fan donations, often using virtual goods like “bits” on Twitch.
    • Supporters receive custom emotes and channel customization as rewards.
  • Paid Subscriptions:
    • Subscription income is significant for Twitch users, offering three tiers: $4.99, $9.99, and $24.99 per month.
    • YouTube gamers with 30,000 subscribers and YouTube Partner status can offer paid subscriptions with customizable perks.
  • Sponsorships:
    • Brands sponsor streamers, often within the same niche.
    • Sponsorships can range from single campaigns to longer-term ambassadorships.
    • Video game sponsorships and partnerships are common, including product promotion or participation in tournaments.
  • Affiliate Marketing:
    • Streamers engage in affiliate marketing, promoting products through their channels.
    • Betting partnerships are growing, especially among professional players and esports athletes.
    • Streamers earn a share of revenue by driving users to betting sites.
  • Merchandise:
    • Streamers sell branded merchandise.
    • YouTube streamers can display up to 12 items on a merchandise shelf.
    • Twitch streamers often sell personalized merchandise through eCommerce platforms.

Related Business Concepts

YouTube Business Model

YouTube was acquired for almost $1.7 billion in 2006 by Google. It makes money through advertising and subscription revenues. YouTube advertising network is part of Google Ads, and it generated more than $28B in revenue by 2021. YouTube also makes money with its paid memberships and premium content.

How do Bloggers Make Money

Blogging is a prevalent and well-established practice, with popular blogging platform WordPress powering many websites on the internet. While a few successful bloggers really make money, those who do usually monetize through affiliate marketing, Google AdSense (or other advertising platforms), sponsorships, memberships, or selling their own digital and physical products.

How do TikTokers Make Money

TikTok, owned by the Chinese tech giant ByteDance turned as among the most successful native micro-video platforms, and it became the go-to platform for millions of young users. Thus, the “TikToker” has already become the evolution of the “influencer” from platforms like Instagram. Those TikTokers make money in a few ways, such as monetary gifts, sponsorships, advertising agreements, affiliations, and more.

How Do YouTubers Make Money

Online influencer marketing is a relatively new creation, but it has fundamentally changed how brands communicate with consumers. People with targeted audiences are now the focus of advertising efforts. Influencers can tap from small to larger audiences thus, giving companies another way to promote their products. Indeed, influencers make money by selling digital products via sponsorships and affiliations, brand ambassadors programs, and physical products.

How To Make Money From A Podcast

Podcasts make money in several ways. The primary sources of revenues from podcasting come from affiliate marketing, advertisements (in the form of pre-roll, mid-roll, post-roll), sponsorships, selling your own products, or by using podcasting to sell consulting services. Podcasting is an effective marketing and distribution channel, and it can be integrated within a business model.

What Is Influencer Marketing

Influencer marketing involves the marketing of products or services that leverages the popularity, expertise, or reputation of an individual. Influencer marketing is often associated with those who have large social media followings, but popularity should not be confused with influence. Influence has the power to change consumer perceptions or get their audience to do something different.

How Does Instagram Make Money

Instagram makes money via visual advertising. As part of Facebook products, the company generates revenues for Facebook Inc. overall business model. Acquired by Facebook for a billion dollar in 2012, today Instagram is integrated into the overall Facebook business strategy. In 2018, Instagram founders, Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger, left the company, as Facebook pushed toward tighter integration of the two platforms.

How Does TikTok Make Money

TikTok makes money through advertising. It is estimated that ByteDance, its owner, made over $17 billion in revenues, for 2019. While we don’t know the exact figure for TikTok ads revenues, given it counted over 800 million users by 2020, it is a multi-billion company, worth anywhere between $50-100 billion and among the most valuable social media platforms of the latest years.

How Does Discord Make Money

Discord makes money in several ways. From its Discord Store, where users can buy premium games, to the seller shops, that primarily works with a 90/10 revenue share for developers and game sellers. And the ability for sellers to get more visibility on the platform by adding features to the game visibility.

Read Next: What Is Influencer MarketingHow To Become An Influencer

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