A controversial trend of “hot tub” livestreams on Twitch is making female stars plenty of money – but it has its critics.
Demand for hot tubs rocketed during the pandemic – probably because they’re all being snapped up by Twitch streamers.
The live streaming platform, which is popular with kids, is a place where viewers largely watch others playing video games, but it’s recently been flooded with users making cash by chatting with fans from hot tubs while wearing bikinis.
Most Twitch livestreams are of gamers playing games, with fans able to chat with the streamer and send them money.
But the site also hosts other kinds of streams that aren’t necessarily about gaming – including some of the hot tub trend, where scantily clad streamers just chats with fans.
The trend has been slammed by some as being a perceived violation of the platform’s community guidelines, which specifically prohibit sexually suggestive content.
But the streams have proved enormously popular recently, with some of the biggest hot tub streamers pulling in hundreds of thousands of new subscribers in a matter of weeks.
Some critics say such videos have no place on a platform which skews to younger viewers.
According to Statista, as much as 38 per cent of all Twitch app users in the US last year were aged between 10 and 19.
Here’s how the steamy trend boiled over – and how streamers are using it to make a killing.
‘People like looking at pretty women’
With over 30 million daily users, there’s a huge audience for professional Twitch streamers to cash in on.
The Amazon-owned platform is designed for users to livestream their gameplay to others.
But on some channels, video games aren’t necessarily the main attraction for viewers, which is where the hot tub craze has come in.
Some streamers began hosting videos and chatting with followers while sitting in a hot tub last year.
But the trend has really ramped up in 2021, with the site’s popular “Just Chatting” stream category becoming awash with hot tub videos.
The streamers sometimes play video games while in the tubs, while others just react to fans messages and gifts in real time.
“I think people like looking at pretty women in bikinis, and I love being in a hot tub and meme-ing around, so it’s a win-win,” streamer Spoopy Kitt told Kotaku.
The hot tub streams aren’t just about building a following – they’re also a way for streamers to make money.
Viewers can pay to have the streamers do different things like change their bikini or put stickers on whiteboards.
Kaitlyn “Amouranth” Siragusa, who’s gained nearly 500,000 since the end of March, charges $50 to write viewers’ names on her body during hot tub streams.
Banned for nudity
Not everyone is happy about the streams, however, which some view as being too sexual.
Some online commenters have even likened the streams to softcore porn which is accessible to minors.
You only need to be 13 to have a Twitch account – but there’s evidence to suggest some are much younger.
And while many of the hot tub streams fall within Twitch’s sexual content rules, some have crossed the line.
Streamer imjasmine, who has 242,000 followers, was hit with a temporary ban from the platform after having an accidental wardrobe malfunction while streaming from a paddling pool.
And Indiefoxx, who has 729,000 followers, has also been banned at least four times, including for rule breaches during hot tub streams.
Supcaitlin, who has hosted hot tub streams, was recently banned for “inappropriate” clothing.
‘Get this trash off’
The debate around the hot tub streams is still raging on, but it appears unlikely they will be banned any time soon.
Twitch’s rules state: “Swimwear is permitted as long as it completely covers the genitals, and those who present as women must also cover their nipples.
“Full coverage of buttocks is not required, but camera focus around them is still subject to our sexually suggestive content policy.
“Coverage must be fully opaque, even when wet. Sheer or partially see-through swimwear or other clothing does not constitute coverage.”
Marcus Graham, Twitch’s head of creator development, addressed the hot tub trend directly in a recent livestream.
“Our nudity and attire policy does allow bathing suits in an appropriate context, and hot tubs do fall under that criteria,” he said.
“However, what has not changed is the sexually suggestive and explicit content is not allowed under the guidelines, under the [Terms of Service], and Twitch will take action when that is reported to us.”
Despite many videos being within the rules, some critics have shared their dismay at the hot tub craze.
“Went on Twitch and seriously got confused as to what app I was actually on,” Twitch streamer MsBananas recently tweeted, alongside thumbnail images of hot tub streams and a pole dancer.
“What in the actual f**k happened to Twitch…?!”
Felix ‘xQc’ Lengyel, the most-watched broadcaster on Twitch, also weighed into the row this month, calling the trend “the most pathetic thing we’ve seen on Twitch in forever”.
“What a sad reality. Please get this trash off the front page,” he tweeted.
Not everyone agrees the trend is a problem, however, pointing out that nobody is being forced to watch.
Rachell “Valkyrae” Hofstetter, the internet’s most-watched female streamer, defended the hot tub trend after reading angry comments against it.
“Why are you so angry? It works for a reason. It’s free for you,” she said in a video.
“You don’t have to donate or subscribe, like isn’t this a good thing? Like, isn’t that what men want to see for free?
“I don’t get what the issue is. If no one is hurting anyone, then what’s the issue?”
This story was published by The Sun and reproduced with permission