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Life After Twitch: Streamers Are Finding New Ways to Make Money and Avoid Burnout

The platform’s relentless demands have top performers looking for an alternative to the always-on life.
YouTuber and former Twitch streamer Ludwig Ahgren with his cat Anders, at home in Los Angeles.

YouTuber and former Twitch streamer Ludwig Ahgren with his cat Anders, at home in Los Angeles.

Photographer: Michelle Groskopf for Bloomberg Businessweek

Nobody making a living on an online platform is immune to volatility—not even Ludwig Ahgren, who in April 2021 set a record for the most subscribers ever on Twitch, Amazon.com Inc.’s streaming platform for gamers. After years of using Twitch to broadcast himself playing Super Smash Bros. Melee and chatting with fans full time, Ahgren committed himself to a punishing monthlong period of around-the-clock streaming he called a sub-a-thon. He peaked at 283,066 subscribers, each paying from $5 to $25.

The numbers were fleeting—by the next month, he’d lost all but about 42,000 subscribers. “I went right back down to where I was before the sub-a-thon,” he says. “You reach a level of success, and then you see it start to go away. It’s how streaming works.”