Riot Games Curiously Reverse Their Policy And Allow Casters To Earn Stream Revenue

In what has long since been an industry standard, Riot Games shoutcasters are no longer banned from monetising their personal streams. League of Legends’ commentary talent are now allowed to build up an audience of paying subscribers through the Twitch Partnership program, additionally accepting donations from their stream viewers. 

It’s an announcement that has evoked mixed emotions amongst the eSports community. Whilst the immediate response is to applaud Riot Games for the new freedoms they have provided to their casting talent, that it was ever restricted at all should not be forgotten so quickly.

Until this point, Riot Games’ casters were bound by contracts restricting them from becoming partnered streamers and accepting donations from the Twitch platform, a feature of the Riot employee handbook that was unheard of within rival publishers in the industry. Casters are still not allowed to have sponsors or paid advertisements on their stream layouts.

European League of Legends Championship Series caster Mitch “Krepo” Voorspoels is one of the first to announce that he has regained his Twitch subscriber button and status to accept donations from viewers after negotiations with his employer, Riot Games.

As a former professional Support player in the EU LCS himself, Krepo admitted he had made sacrifices in his contract in order to reach an agreement, though he understandably restrained on detailing the specifics of the negotiations. It was later confirmed that Riot had reached an agreement with all of their casters; not simply outlining a contract with Krepo, rather all of Riot Games’ shoutcasters.

Source: lolesports
Source: lolesports

The original argument behind Riot’s hesitancy to allow streamers to monetise their streams was that it presented a conflict of interest for the shoutcasters. In theory, if the casters could transfer their eSports audience to their Twitch stream, they would stand to make a significant amount of money through high viewership numbers. This in turn would motivate the individuals to stream more often and potentially not use their time to review other VODS or assist with scripting as much as they should.

Though it is unlikely to ever be disclosed, the community should remain curious as to what Krepo (and indeed the other casters) gave up from their previous deals in order to be able to stream. A popular Twitch stream certainly opens up unlimited earning potential, particularly for the former Elements and Evil Geniuses man, who regularly tallies strong viewership figures.

Whilst Riot appears to have shown some slight flexibility towards their casters, the streams of their eSports pros are still under fixed shackles. It used to be the standard that, whilst waiting it out through lengthy queue times, pros would stream filler games (such as hearthstone) to keep themselves and their audience engaged during down time.

Riot quashed this trend, banning pros from showing content from other games whilst under the League of Legends Twitch banner, citing an argument that could be fairly paraphrased as: ‘the pros are famous because of League of Legends, they should therefore not use their subsequent viewership to promote other games’.

So whilst it is positive to see that casters are being granted the opportunity to develop their own personal brands, this news should not be misinterpreted as a pioneering move by Riot Games, given that the rest of the eSports industry publishers have had similar (if not better) agreements already in place, and have done for years.

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