Twitch is launching a dedicated category for hot tub streams after claiming that it has received pushback from advertisers and viewers about how the trend has taken over the platform. The new “Pools, Hot Tubs, and Beaches” category is meant to let creators stream what they want, while also giving Twitch advertisers a more convenient way to prevent ads from running on streams that they don’t approve of.
Earlier this week, Twitch pulled advertising from some hot tub streamers without warning. In a statement sent to The Verge today, the company said that was a mistake. “We did not alert impacted creators at the time, and we should have–our creators rely on us,” a spokesperson said. Twitch said the ads were suspended at advertisers’ request and that it’s now working with individual creators to “restore ads where appropriate.”
In particular, the ad suspension hit Amouranth, who is one of the platform’s biggest streamers. Her channel is now showing ads again, though it appears her hot tub streams have been removed.
“First and foremost, no one deserves to be harassed for the content they choose to stream.”
Twitch says its policies on what is and isn’t allowed on the platform aren’t changing. The company is not going to prevent people from streaming in hot tubs or swimwear. While sexually suggestive content remains banned, context-appropriate clothing — like bathing suits in a pool — is allowed.
“Being found to be sexy by others is not against our rules, and Twitch will not take enforcement action against women, or anyone on our service, for their perceived attractiveness,” the company wrote, in bold, in a blog post this afternoon. The post is a surprisingly direct message from a tech company laying out the competing interests and problems being faced in a situation that most other companies would address in a vague manner at best.
Hot tub streamers tend to be women, and they’ve often faced sexist harassment from men who don’t like seeing them or their success on Twitch. Twitch’s new system plays into that to an extent — it pulls their streams out of the very popular “Just Chatting” section and moves it into the brand-new hot tub section — but it also validates that this type of streaming is allowed and welcomed on the platform. In its blog post, the company says “first and foremost, no one deserves to be harassed for the content they choose to stream.”
Twitch says that adding a new category is not its long-term solution to giving advertisers more control over what streams their ads run on. But it views this as a short-term solution, saying it allows viewers to avoid or seek out hot tub content and gives creators a place to continue streaming it. Brands will be able to opt in or out of placing ads on streams in that category.
That could be bad news for creators, though. The so-called “hot tub meta” has been a huge success for streamers, but part of the reason for participating in it is that more viewers generally means more ad revenue. If Twitch can’t get advertisers to opt into the hot tubs section, there may be fewer streamers willing to take part.