Gambling, risky pranks and lucrative contracts: Inside the streaming site Kick


One day this summer, internet personality Adin Ross switched on his camera and started broadcasting himself live to thousands of fans, sipping a Yerba Mate drink and nodding along to Lil Uzi.

Ross soon cut the music and started talking, assuring his fans that he would livestream Jake Paul’s coming boxing match, even though it would violate copyright laws. “I’ll pay the fines,” he promised. Later, he streamed himself playing online slot machines and blackjack on a gambling site, Stake. Once, he streamed pornography. He has hosted Nick Fuentes, a white nationalist, and Andrew Tate, an online influencer known for his misogyny who faces human-trafficking charges. As Ross streams, his viewers post a torrent of messages in his channel’s chat feature — some celebrating him, some abusing him with slurs.

Welcome to life on Kick, the Wild West of livestreaming — where seemingly any kind of content goes. Since it went live late last year, the upstart platform has made waves in the world of livestreaming, long dominated by Twitch, which is owned by Amazon. Today, Kick has 21 million accounts, nearly twice as many as just four months ago. It has carved out a niche as the latest home for the fringes of young male viewers who spend significant time online.

Kick, an Australian company, has flourished thanks to an unusual business model. It offers eyebrow-raising multimillion dollar contracts to top streamers and takes just 5% of all streamers’ earnings, compared with a 50-50 split on Twitch, helping lure away both top Twitch stars and rank-and-file content creators who say they’ve seen a bump in earnings. But the site itself is something of a loss leader for Stake, the online casino backed by the same ownership and frequently promoted on Kick. By offering them sizable endorsement deals with Stake, Kick has also attracted mainstream stars like the rapper Drake.

Until recently, Kick employed a laissez-faire approach to content moderation, which attracted controversial characters like Ross, who was banned from Twitch earlier this year. Other streamers have filmed themselves committing apparent crimes, like trespassing and sexual assault.

To some streamers and viewers, Kick represents a welcome freedom from what they see as the draconian rules and corporate greed on Twitch, which is more closely moderated and in recent years has taken a greater cut of its streamers’ earnings. To others, Kick allows harmful views to thrive.

Kick has faced the same scrutiny as other fledgling social media sites, forcing it to get serious about what kind of content it does and does not allow. A further crackdown on pornography, for instance, was imposed after Ross’ stream this spring. Other features, like a report button, were added only recently, and critics have said the site remains lax about enforcing restrictions.

“I think people are realizing the more controversial they are, the more shock factor involved in their content, the more viewers they get, and it can sometimes be a dangerous mix in that regard,” Kick CEO Ed Craven, 28, said in an interview. “So we are very quickly having to adapt what we consider to be aboveboard and where we have to say ‘no.’”

The question is: Does Kick actually want to shed its irreverent image, or is it merely paying lip service to regulation in the face of public pressure?

Place Your Bets

Craven quickly rose in the Australian technology world as the co-founder of Easygo and other online gambling companies he started with Bijan Tehrani.

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