Streamers do a lot of interesting things to try to get more viewers and subscribers into their channel. Over the years I've seen a lot of techniques, but one that is gaining a trend is the 'sub-a-thon'. What this is in simple terms, is some kind of extended stream opportunity for new subs. New subscribers end up (usually) adding time to a clock which extends how long the streamer will stream that day. This gives the viewers a bit of control of the streamer that day, which lets them have direct interactions with the streamer in a sense. Its a genius "event" and every time I have seen one done it has been successful for that streamer, even if only a little. Usually though... a lot.
I'm going to share some of the techniques I've seen used during sub-a-thons and why I think they work or don't work. Hopefully this information can help you do a sub-a-thon of your own with success, or even improve the ones you already do.
FrequencyIf you do one too often, the excitement and thrill of the marathon stream loses its appeal. Keep in mind also, that a lot of people are only paid once a month. I recommend you not do a sub-a-thon more than once a month at most. I did see a streamer who attempted to do one once a week... and it didn't work out for them. Make it a rare event, even if it is done consistently every month. One time is plenty to get the hype going and have a successful marathon stream.
Time RulesThis is a tricky part of a sub-a-thon. What is the best rule set to make or go by?
- First I'll say, make sure to add options for both ADDING -and- REMOVING time. The reason for this, is some people will want to have fun going against the majority of people picking one choice. Some may even be seen as "heroes" for removing time, because its giving the streamer a chance to not be exhausted by reaching max time. Don't count on this though... you'll almost always hit max time, lol. Plus, when people remove time, it encourages others to have to add more time again; more subs/tips for you!
- Next you need to figure out how much and what will affect the time. I've seen these numbers all over the place personally. I don't think any particular way is right or wrong, but I'd like to also make a few suggestions of my own.
- Make removing time cheaper than adding time. Adding time is the more popular option, and you're almost guaranteed to hit max time with a popular sub-a-thon. So give those choosing the 'remove' option a fighting chance.
- If the timer hits zero, DON'T end it right away. This will only anger those who have been pouring money into the clock to keep the stream going when one "hero" swoops in and drops a huge donation to end the sub-at-thon. Instead, give a "warning time" once it hits zero. Give people for example 10 minutes to try to get some time back on the clock if they choose to. Maybe they'll show mercy on you if you're totally exhausted, but don't count on it, lol. After that 10 minute warning, TIMES UP. Be firm on that. You were fair to give them that little window to get the timer going again; if they missed it... oh well. Its possible this 'warning period' may even start a back and forth battle (win for you.)
- Make the rules simple. Make it 1 minute added, 2 removed in example. Make it easy to add up for people. Try to avoid doing things like "30 seconds". Just round that up to a minute. Doing 1, 2, 5, or 10 is best because those are easy for people to add and multiply. Also, having a program or bot that will adjust your clock for you automatically is going to save you some time and sanity... trust me. Doing it manually will get out of hand and exhaust you at one point.
- Give multiple options for adding and removing time. New subs, resubs, bits, and donations. Some even add in patreon. Don't be afraid too if you're playing something competitive to say things like, "If I lose this match, I'll add 20 minutes to the clock." Most of your viewers will want to see time added, so keep that in mind. "Punishing" yourself by adding time will yield the best response. What I see most streamers choose to do, is have subs and bits add time, and having direct tips remove time. I've also seen tips used to let the person choose which they want (to add or remove.)
- Make sure to give a max limit of time. Explain clearly to viewers that even if they make the added time soar over the max time, you'll still only stream that max amount of time. This way they don't feel cheated or disappointed when the time comes that you do reach the max hours and end. Since a lot of viewers will stay the entire stream with you, I also don't recommend going over 24hrs max. But you know your limits better than I do!
- Don't forget to set a minimum start amount on the sub-a-thon too. Usually something around 3-4hrs is good. Then people adding or removing time will come from this.
- Expect gift subs. Some of your more generous viewers may take this opportunity to throw gift subs at viewers who can't afford to subscribe. It lets them not only be seen as generous, but also to have some extra influence on your sub-a-thon. I haven't yet seen a sub-a-thon since gift subs were made available that hasn't had at least one gifted. Sadly also expect viewers to start begging people for subs. I'd have your mods quickly put that to rest when it starts, by giving warnings and purging comments of begging. It makes gifters feel uncomfortable and may discourage them from doing so. But don't reprimand the beggars too harshly either... remember, they're wanting a -sub- to -your- channel. It means they're a fan of you (or your emotes.)
- If you are a viewer of someone's sub-a-thon... I suggest you have fun/friendly and active conversation in the chat during the event. This is more likely to get you one of those gifted subs; but don't be bitter if it still doesn't happen. I've been gifted more than one gift sub simply for being present and actively chatting with people in a friendly manner.
Benefits of a Sub-a-thon
Streamer: Its pretty obvious what your benefit is, lol. Cha-ching. But really, besides the extra influx of income coming your way from this event... you'll also get hype. Hype shouldn't be underrated. Excited and entertained viewers are more likely to keep their subscriptions to you, thus extending the benefit of the event well after that single day. This is also a great chance for you to really interact with your community more than you might do otherwise. Play some community games like Jackbox for example with them at some point. Throwing in the community games during the event is something I definitely recommend.
Viewers: So what do you guys get out of this event? Well, there's a good chance the streamer will be playing community games you might get to join in on. You also get to influence how long the streamer streams. Ever wanted a longer stream from them? Now's your opportunity. As mentioned above, there's a good chance you might get a gift sub out of this too. And finally... if the event is really successful, the streamer might hit a new sub goal which means... NEW EMOTES for you. More than once, I've seen a streamer hit this new goal and earn a new emote for the stream; win for all!
What Happens During Sub-a-thons?It usually consists of a few hours of a game the streamer either usually plays or one they enjoy. Then a few community games are mixed in, such as Jackbox or PUBG custom matches, or Overwatch. Things where they can add in their community members or subs to join them. And finally, I also see a lot of streamers run contests and giveaways during the event. What's given away varies by each streamer, but I've seen in-game currency gift cards, steam games, gift cards to Amazon, gift cards to Steam, personal store merchandise, and even rare things like limited edition signed objects. At the end of the marathon, a streamer will often wind down with something easier to play or do because by this point they're getting exhausted and their attention span will dip.
So there you have my experience watching these sub-a-thon events. I hope you enjoyed my article and learned something new about Twitch that can help you as a viewer or streamer! Thanks for reading, and please consider sharing my blog with others.