Entrepreneur, music lover, player of video games, and futurist.
Today we talk about the elephant in the room. Lurker communities and websites that sell access to inauthentic viewership.
Just about everyone who gets into streaming is on the hunt for viewers. The desperation is real, and many end up getting caught up with viewbots, lurker communities, and purchasable viewer websites like binx.tv. These platforms, for the most part, bring empty traffic and viewers.
These highly organized platforms prey on the streamers strong desire to be viewed, and provide low quality, empty, pointless viewers that only fluff viewer numbers and make the streamer feel better about themselves and their status on twitch. Many of these platforms reward existing users with free access to their tools in exchange for bringing in more users.
Although higher numbers on twitch do indeed matter, at the end of the day, months and months with high viewers but non-existing community only makes a streamer look fake.
Lurker communities are becoming more and more organized and more popular. Lurker communities consist of groups of streamers who leave multiple streams up within the community on their computers, giving each other inflated viewership numbers. Although this seems like a great idea on paper, it comes with great consequences depending on the community a streamer chooses to get involved in. Some lurker communities are organized by points that are earned by viewing and chatting, others are less organized and have an honor system.
The big issue here is viewership vs engagement. Some lurkers enforce strict rules to attempt to maximize engagement, some of those requirements being several hours per week of watch time and x amount of chats, others a streamer can simply pay to play, skipping the requirements. When it all comes down to it, viewer numbers not matching realistic engagement in a streamers chat is a bad look. Forcing the engagement through a system of rules, makes for bogus support, and will not be able to save any streamer when it comes to organic growth.
Many of these lurker communities can be very shady and bad for a streamers business. Some lurker communities force streamers to agree to not speak about the lurker publicly on their stream, or risk being outed from the very lurker they are addicted to. The organizers of these lurkers are very well aware of the grey area they operate within, and knowingly put the streamers under their care at risk. Twitch can ban any of these people, at any moment, without any explanation. Hence the requirement of silence.
Binx.tv and other similar small startups is actually a cool idea, minus the fact that they send empty meaningless traffic to streamers, for a fee. The premise of Binx is a community of people trying to get free games within the chat of participating streamers, which by itself is an incredible idea. By typing a command in a “featured streamer” chat, they earn a small amount of “binx coins”, which can be redeemed for free games.
The predatory side of things comes with how the streamers arrive in that “featured slot” and what the true value of all those extra viewers actually is. Binx’s design unfortunately causes the “viewers” that are sent to streams, to leave the stream once the feature is up. There is no longer the incentive of “binx coins” once the paid timer runs out. This means that when a streamer drops $10 on binx for an hour of “promotion”, the people hanging out in the chat are only there for the binx coins. They are not there for the streamer. They have no reason to care about the streamer. They are there for one thing. Free shit.
Unfortunately the end result of bought viewers on your stream, is that when the timer runs out, nobody is left behind. They move on to the next stream to earn more points, leaving you in the past.
Obviously the biggest consequence is that all the things above hurt a streamers chances of getting partnered on twitch, which is what everyone participating in these platforms wants. Twitch does not count embbeded traffic, hosts, raids, or any traffic they deem not authentic.
Bigger and more informed streamers can tell when a smaller streamer is using a lurker. Some may not care, but a lot of them do care. A streamers public image is everything. Some communities have a negative impact on a streamers image.
The grey area of purchased twitch views and lurker communities has an uncertain future. Will twitch change their current stance and begin taking action on communities that inflate streams with inauthentic viewer numbers? Only twitch knows.
Skewed data. When a streamer inflates their numbers, the data becomes skewed and they cannot make the right decisions on what they should be doing.
Once a streamer starts using a viewbot, lurker, websites like binx, they get addicted to the rush of seeing that viewer number be bigger than usual. They begin repurchasing session after session, or getting stuck into dedicating a PC to running a stream lurker 24/7. The viewer number gets bigger, but the actual community behind the streamer does not grow much at all.
In conclusion, streamers must be very careful which streaming communities and organizations they choose to participate in. The immediate reward may not be worth the long term cost.