Ludwig’s Subathon offers a rare opportunity to look at the economics of a top streamer. Having become a top creator on Twitch within the last couple of years, he’s facing his biggest challenge yet – a (formerly) uncapped subathon. For anyone unfamiliar, subathons are a content tool that streamers can use to buoy their income in face of unexpected expenses or income drops. Most function in the same way: for every dollar spent on the streamer, a corresponding increase in time will be spent streaming. Streamers start with a baseline such as 2-hours, and they set a cap at (usually) between 12-24 hours. During that time, different amounts of financial support can result in different perks in addition to the time spent streaming.
Ludwig‘s subathon has grown bigger than he anticipated, as he woke up one morning to significantly more time than when he went to bed. This forced him to downward adjust time added for each dollar by 50%, as well as setting a hard cap at 31-days. Having seen documentaries like We Live in Public (a series WAY before it’s time), and having undertaken crazy experiments like this in the past – I have no doubt the money will keep flowing to keep him streaming for the entire time.
We could dive into ‘donating to millionaires‘ or how Twitch enables unhealthy living. But instead, I’m more curious about the economics of the stream and what it means for other streamers on the platform. Streamers often compare themselves one-to-one against others, and it leads to unhealthy results. This is especially true when they compare the wrong data points. So, to put Ludwig’s subathon into context, let’s look at the data!
**This post is basically me just exploring something I was curious about. I doubt it helps you become a better content creator. If you’re strapped for time, I don’t encourage you to continue reading.**
The Economics of Ludwig’s Subathon
As mentioned, most streamers use subathons to help them out during difficult times. Ludwig’s situation is different. He’s a top streamer. Over the course of 2020, he averaged 11,300 viewers via Sullygnome. That locked him for the 29th most popular streamer of the year on Twitch. With that comes thousands of subscribers, tens of thousands in tips, and lucrative brand deals. Simply put, Ludwig isn’t hurting for cash – and that’s what makes this subathon different than others. IF YOU WANT TO AVOID ALL THE MATH CRUNCH, SKIP TO THE NEXT SECTION!
So, the real question becomes, are Ludwig’s good looks stealing all the
There are two pieces of data we need to consider. Average viewership over the last 6-days has been 39,845 via Sullygnome. As for income, it requires a bit of calculation. Currently, there are three ways to increase the timer for Ludwig’s subathon:
- Subscriptions. They increase the timer by 10-seconds. Sub tier does not matter, so for our purposes, we’re going to consider ALL subs at the Tier 1 rate of $4.99.
- Bits. 500 Bits increases the timer by 10-seconds. Each bit is worth 1-cent, or $5 for the block.
- MediaShare. Each 20-cents increases the timer by 1-second. (This appears to only be available while Ludwig is sleeping.)
Ludwig is sleeping roughly 7-hours a day (25,200 seconds), leaving 17-hours awake (61,200 seconds). Using this data, we can determine a maximum cost per day to stream. It won’t be 100% accurate, but a solid estimate.
- 25,200 Night Seconds, at a rate of 20-cents per second = $5040.
- 61,200 Awake Seconds, at a rate of $5 per 10-seconds = $30,600.
- That works out to a total of $35,640 per day.
Twitch takes 50% of subs from most streamers (yes, it’s absurd and needs to change!) but for a top 100 streamers, it’s probably at maximum 30%. If we assume 80% of Awake Revenue is Subs, we remove $6400. MediaShare comes with Paypal Fees at roughly 3%. That subtracts $200 from the Night Revenue.
Thus, we can conclude that Ludwig’s daily take-home before taxes would be $29,040.
Ludwig’s Subathon vs Your Subathon
On a pure surface level analysis – Ludwig’s subathon is earning more money than your subathon will. He’s earning a two-year salary for a minimum wage worker every day. If this goes the whole 31 days, it’s nearly $1M dollars in income. It’s very unlikely that we ever see a subathon this lucrative again. I mean, even Maya’s Animal Sanctuary Subathon capped out at $573,000.
But while the raw number is huge, does it outperform smaller communities? The answer is no!
$29,000 / 39,845 average viewers works out to $0.73 per viewer day, which when broken down further becomes $0.03 per viewer per hour streamed. This number is much better to work with because we can compare it directly to your own Subathons. Here are some direct comparisons based on different viewer averages, against a 12-hour subathon using Ludwig’s income level.
- 500 Viewer Streamer, 12 Hour Subathon = $180 Earned.
- 100 Viewer Streamer, 12 Hour Subathon = $36 Earned.
- 40 Viewer Streamer, 12 Hour Subathon = $14 Earned.
- 25 Viewer Streamer, 12 Hour Subathon = $9 Earned.
- 10 Viewer Streamer, 12 Hour Subathon = $3.60 Earned.
From this data point, it’s pretty clear that MOST streamers doing subathons are absolutely destroying these numbers. I’ve seen 25 viewer streamers generate $300 during a 12-hour subathon… I’ve seen 500 viewer streamers earn ten thousand. I’ve even seen 3-5 viewer streamers generate $50-$100 during a subathon.
Key Takeaways from the Data
When you look at the data objectively, there are two things that stand out to me. Ludwig’s subathon, despite the mass income it will generate, is a drop in the bucket. While the number itself is massive, most streamers doing subathon’s are dollar-for-dollar (likely) generating much more income per viewer hour! This leads me to the second important takeaway… if you have a smaller community, your value punches higher than that of a bigger streamer.
That’s important for MANY creators to understand. You may not sit on the top of Twitch with 10K people watching, or even 1000, or even 100! But when it comes to how much financial value you potentially hold – the number is usually significantly higher per person than any top streamer could ever come close to. Keep that in mind when you consider a brand deal.
As for Ludwig, this may be the most lucrative 31-days of his life. But, when Mogul Moves is your catchphrase – you never quite know what might come next!