With more and more creators coming onto Twitch trying to make it big it becomes increasingly difficult to do so without trying out different tactics to not just get viewers but to attract subscribing (paid) viewers. Ultimately, unless you are a celebrity or someone who already has a viable income, you are going to be working on making Twitch streaming a paid gig.
One method people can use to drive up their subscriptions quickly is through a subathon – a subscriber marathon. But what exactly does a subathon mean?
What does a subathon mean?
A subathon is a subscriber marathon where a streamer will stream 24 hours a day for a duration which is increased with every new subscriber during the subathon or an incentive can be reached. During a subathon, the streamer can do whatever they like but in general they will always be shown on the camera on way or another which does include sleeping.
Generally, a subathon can mean:
- Subscribing increase the timer or earns an incentive
- Donating increases a timer or works towards a challenge
- Donating bits can work towards a goal
In terms of the subathon duration it can:
- Indefinite, in this case longevity is the emphasis
- Duration can be set in advance, in this case challenges and incentives are the goals
- Covers the quietest and busiest times of the day – the “golden hours“
A subathon doesn’t always mean adding time indefinitely such as is the case with EmilyCC (the current record holder for longest subathon). A subathon can mean a 24 hour stream but subscribing has various incentives such as them performing a dance, eating particular foods, playing a certain game and so on.
As it is a marathon, it is about longevity and performing tasks to entice people to subscribe which in turn increases the total possible duration of the subathon. It is a blatant tool to increase a streamer’s sub count and therefore earnings.
Although extremely demanding, a subathon can be lucrative for the streamer and attain them notoriety and a potential springboard into popularity.
When did subathons start
The first time the word subathon was searched was September 2004 where Twitch user AngryPug and his girlfriend took turns streaming for 24 hours after the release of Mario Kart 8. They are now a little known for doing soubathons performing their 35th subathon as of August 2022.
The first subathon which was done in earnest was by BoxBox in 2015 who created the concept and the tools which increased a timer when someone donated or subscribed during a stream.
Here is a timeline of Google searches for subathon. You can see how there was interest with AngryPug and BoxBox but then almost no interest until Ludwig’s now infamous subathon.
Although interest in subathons now are not near the peak of the days of old, they are consistently searched for – meaning subathons may not be as big but they are more common.
How to prepare for a subathon
Organising a subathon can be lucrative but to make it work well there needs to be a proper plan and you probably need to have more than zero friends or no one will find it.
- Figure out if you can accommodate a subathon into your personal life, that you are free for the desired time and have nothing else going on. For 24 hour streams, most people won’t leave their computers, except to wash. For something longer than that you’ll need to plan how you will do your life admin such as shopping, eating and so on.
- Most people who do subathons will do it during SUBtember where subscribing is cheaper than usual. You will still make the same money from cheaper subs.
- Second, having a team of moderators on hand during the marathon will help. Ludwig’s moderators kept the viewers entertained when Ludwig was sleeping and so on.
- If you are going for incentives rather than longevity then making sure they are varied and challenging enough to attract the subs while committing to actually do them if the goal is hit.
- Get your stream set up on point, overlays, emotes, channel point rewards and so on. Don’t forget your subathon timer.
- Be prepared to “just chatting”. No matter how much you like certain games they will grind on your and your viewers. Just chatting can pass the time and get engagement as well as playing a variety of games to attract people you normally wouldn’t.
- Incentivise cheating and donations as these can bring more revenue than subs
- Have fun!
Are subathons worth it?
Various smaller streamers have all concluded that a subathon when you have fewer than say 50 viewers is ultimately not going to achieve what they think they will achieve. It only seems to work when the channel has already grown fairly well with plenty of followers who are not subscribers. Bare that in mind.
Ludwig was already a large streamer before his infamous marathon.
Subathons can bring in a larger than usual revenue amount, this is pretty much the purpose. A single sub can bring in $2.50, donations vary and then you have ad revenue on top of this. The best way to calculate how much you could earn in a single subathon is look at how much you currently earn per hour (count your typical monthly revenue, divide it by the number of hours streamed) and then multiply it by the number of hours you are hoping to marathon for.
Ludwig reportedly made $200,000 PROFIT from his 30 day subathon. Before profit the revenue was almost $1,000,000!