Kick battle with rival Twitch is in full swing as the former’s lenient attitude towards gambling and other content has helped the platform sign multimillion-dollar contracts with top streaming celebrities like xQc and Amouranth. Unfortunately, Kick’s policies have also resulted in regulatory difficulties. Gambling streams on Kick have reportedly been banned in Greece. Previously, the site also had to adjust its sexual content policies under pressure from Apple.
Kick’s launch in December 2022 was viewed by many with skepticism. The streaming platform offered much more relaxed rules, including allowing offshore gambling streaming. However, some wondered where the funding to establish it had come from.
Soon after its launch, the streaming platform attracted top Twitch streamers like Adin Ross, Hikaru Nakamura, and Tyler “Trainwreck” Niknam. Rumors spread that Kick is owned by an offshore crypto casino Stake. It was later confirmed that the creators of Stake own Kick, but they deny a business connection between the companies.
Since then, Stake co-founder Ed Craven has become more openly involved with growing Kick’s business.
Why Are Celebrities Like xQc and Amouranth Moving To Kick?
Many might wonder why some of the most followed streamers are leaving Twitch for Kick. The short answer is money.
Names like xQc and Amouranth might not be familiar to those not steeped in streaming culture. But they’re immensely popular with gamers, especially those under 35, who make up two-thirds of Twitch’s user base.
xQc is a former professional Overwatch player famous for reaction videos and game streams. Amouranth is a cosplayer known for hot tub streams and other titillating content. She also has an OnlyFans account for more explicit content that would violate the streaming sites’ policies.
Reportedly, Kick has agreed to pay xQc $100 million for a two-year non-exclusive contract. That means xQc can still stream on Twitch and earn additional revenue there. Kick did not release Amouranth’s contract numbers, but online rumors say she’ll get $30 million over two years.
While those two streamers are receiving enormous sums from Kick directly, others are jumping to the new site due to its 95-5 revenue split model. That means creators hold on to 95% of their channels’ revenue, while Kick takes only 5%. By contrast, Twitch’s offer is just 50-50, while YouTube has a 70-30 split in favor of the site.
Kick also offers more lenient rules. Many assume that the motivation to create Kick was Twitch’s move to ban gambling streams promoting offshore casinos like Stake.
Controversial streamers like Ross and Niknam have become the face of the company. Trainwreck is sponsored by Stake and often played at the crypto casino on Twitch before the ban. In addition to being a top streamer, Trainwreck has also become a part owner of Kick.
Is Kick’s Model Sustainable?
There is a lot of talk about the sustainability of Kick and speculation that Stake is keeping it afloat to advertise there. Others have suggested that Stake is funding Kick to get back at Twitch for having banned the crypto casino. Kick even offered to cover a $25 fee for streamers who break their contracts with Twitch and move over to Kick.
To many, the Kick’s financial math doesn’t seem to make sense. Kick runs few ads of its own to supplement its 5% share of streamer revenue. At the same time, it’s signing multimillion dollars contracts with streamers like xQc and Amouranth. As Forbes pointed out, xQc’s contract is for more than Lebron James gets from the LA Lakers.
Whether Kick is successful in the long term is unknown, but it seems Stake might be getting an influx of new players.
XQc and Amouranth Have Sparred Over Acceptable Content Boundaries
The boundaries of acceptable content are a point of ongoing debate in the streaming community. Kick’s newest stars have taken jabs at the other in the past over where they draw their respective lines.
In 2021, xQc called out Amouranth and other streamers from the Hot Tub category. He accused Twitch of having double standards and suggested that streams in the category might violate Twitch policies regarding nudity.
xQc has sometimes ventured into less carefully-worded critiques, describing the Hot Tub category with words like “trash” and “pathetic,” saying Twitch should remove it. He has also criticized Amouranth in particular and questioned the length of her bans each time she has been found to be violating Twitch’s rules. When Amouranth moved her stream to another category, ASMR, she landed herself with another temporary ban that xQc said should be permanent.
Amouranth fired back, saying that xQc was attempting to deflect controversy about his gambling streams. She called him a hypocrite for promoting an addictive product.
The two have gone back and forth about what types of content are acceptable. However, it appears that both have decided that Kick’s more lenient policies make it a better home for their own streams.
Greece Bans Kick For Promoting Gambling
Recently, users in Greece reported they could not access Kick. One streamer, n3lswn, posted a video on June 21 attempting to access the site. He received a message that he was trying to access a gambling site that was on a ban list drafted by the Hellenic Gaming Commission (HGC).
Checking that list confirms that it includes a particular channel: kick.com/slotsgang. However, the user’s video suggested that HGC had restricted the entire website.
Slots Gang is a Greek channel promoting offshore casinos. With a quick search on Kick, we can see that the channel is down, but a new channel, kick.com/slotsgangofficial, was created around June 20, the day HGC updated the ban list.
Bonus has been unable to confirm whether the whole website is or was inaccessible for all users in Greece. The most likely scenario appears to be that the Slots Gang channel was banned for all users, but those using a particular internet service provider (ISP) had temporarily lost access to the entire site.
That information comes from Craven, who replied to a story about the ban and stated that a Greek ISP had blocked the entire site by accident. Craven also said that Kick is working on fixing the issue.
This seems to be corroborated by anecdotal evidence that other Greek users have had no trouble accessing Kick. Bonus was also able to access the site while using a VPN to simulate a Greek address.
Could Other European Countries Follow?
The news about the ban in Greece spread quickly across social media like Reddit. Under the official xQc subreddit, users pointed out that a similar ban could come from more European countries.
Many users point out that countries like Belgium, the Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, and Poland have strict rules on what users can do on streaming sites and don’t allow things like channel point predictions. Channel point prediction is voting with stream points on a question regarding the outcome of the stream. The result either grants additional points or deducts the current total. Many European countries consider that a form of gambling.
Also, some users point out that showing gambling on the front page can be considered a form of gambling advertisement, which is banned in many countries like Belgium.
Apple and Google Dictate Content Policies For App Developers
Reports of Kick being banned in Greece notwithstanding, direct crackdowns on social media by governments are relatively rare. Instead, limits on what such sites can get away with more often come from other companies, particularly those that distribute their apps.
While Kick attempts to be as permissive as possible, it has had to tighten up some policies to prevent Apple from removing its app from the App Store. The lack of moderation in Hot Tub streams and related categories resulted called Kick’s compliance with App Store guidelines into question. In response, in April 2023, the company announced changes to its rules on nudity and sexual content. For instance, bikinis remain acceptable on stream, but lingerie and pasties are not.
Apple and Google have shown that they won’t hesitate to remove even big-name apps from their distribution platforms if they violate the rules. One famous instance is Apple’s removal of Fortnite in 2020, with Google following suit shortly thereafter.
To date, Google has banned over a million apps for violating its terms and conditions.