Twitch is waging a war against firms promising viewers and followers through bots that channel owners can pay for. This causes very serious negative externalities for the Twitch ecosystem and leads to gaming the system. As a marketplace, Twitch knows that governance of its platform is a key to its success, and they cannot allow even a small set of channels to game the system. But the real question is, are the cheaters getting cheated? A quick analysis of the data we have on Twitch channels seems to suggest that bot traffic would be easy to recognize and difficult to capitalize on.
This bot service offers 450 viewers and 2,000 followers for $44 per month. Directly, this sounds like a pretty bad deal. Even if you’re able to monetize these “viewers” on ad sales, it’ll be difficult to earn your $44 back. On this thread, the Twitch CPM is quoted at $5. The revenue for 450 viewers would be $2.25 on the ads.
The more valuable function of bots is to push a channel to the top of the channels to stream. From the data we found, we believe it would be extremely easy for Twitch to detect foul play. For instance, if your viewer count increases by less than 10% while your follower count increases by more than 10%, Twitch could predict that something strange was happening. As we’ve found, a 10% increase in followers corresponds almost perfectly to a 10% increase in views.
Additionally, if a new channel starts seeing a substantial amount of growth in viewers and followers, it would stand out as extraordinary in the data. Data suggests that it takes several years to build up an audience of several thousand followers. These channels, which we call “outliers”, were almost exclusively created during or before 2013.
As a new channel, if you start paying for followers and viewers, Twitch will notice it. As they’ve stated on their blog and through legal actions, they’re going to take action to stop fake traffic. You’ll likely be penalized and waste a lot of money.