Shroud returns to Twitch, completely

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Michael “Shroud” Grzesiek — one of the most influential live-streamers on the internet — has today announced his triumphant, exclusive return to Twitch, the platform that made him famous, after a detour to Mixer that possibly netted him a cool $10 million when the site went dark and his contract got paid out.

It’s a big deal. Grzesiek was one of the biggest names on Twitch pre-Mixer acquisition, and him leaving the site last October for then-greener pastures appeared to signal a worrying exodus of talent from Twitch onto other competing live-streaming platforms, like YouTube, Facebook Gaming, and Mixer. Ten months and one (ongoing) pandemic later, Mixer is gone and the entire live-streaming landscape has shifted again.

About Shroud
Shroud usually refers to an item, such as a cloth, that covers or protects some other object. The term is most often used in reference to burial sheets, mound shroud, grave clothes, winding-cloths or winding-sheets, such as the famous Shroud of Turin or Tachrichim (burial shrouds) that Jews are dressed in for burial. Traditionally, mound shrouds are made of white cotton, wool or linen, though any material can be used so long as it is made of natural fibre. Intermixture of two or more such fibres is forbidden, a proscription that ultimately derives from the Torah, viz., Deut. 22:11.
A traditional Orthodox Jewish shroud consists of a tunic; a hood; pants that are extra-long and sewn shut at the bottom, so that separate foot coverings are not required; and a belt, which is tied in a knot shaped like the Hebrew letter shin, mnemonic of one of God’s names, Shaddai. Early shrouds incorporated a cloth, the sudarium, that covered the face, as depicted in traditional artistic representations of the entombed Jesus or His friend, Lazarus (John 11, q.v.). An especially pious man may next be enwrapped in either his kittel or his tallit, one tassel of which is defaced to render the garment ritually unfit, symbolizing the fact that the decedent is free from the stringent requirements of the 613 mitzvot (commandments). The shrouded body is wrapped in a winding sheet, termed a sovev in Hebrew (a cognate of svivon, the spinning Hanukkah toy that is familiar under its Yiddish name, dreidel), before being placed either in a plain coffin of soft wood (where required by governing health codes) or directly in the earth. Croesus-rich or dirt-poor, every Orthodox Jew is dressed to face the Almighty on the same terms.
The Early Christian Church also strongly encouraged the use of winding-sheets, except for monarchs and bishops. The rich were wrapped in cerecloths, which are fine fabrics soaked or painted in wax to hold the fabric close to the flesh. An account of the opening of the coffin of Edward I says that the “innermost covering seems to have been a very fine linen cerecloth, dressed close to every part of the body”. Their use was general until at least the Renaissance – clothes were very expensive, and they had the advantage that a good set of clothes was not lost to the family.
In Europe in the Middle Ages, coarse linen shrouds were used to bury most poor without a coffin. In poetry shrouds have been described as of sable, and they were later embroidered in black, becoming more elaborate and cut like shirts or shifts. Orthodox Christians still use a burial shroud, usually decorated with a cross and the Trisagion. The special shroud that is used during the Orthodox Holy Week services is called an Epitaphios. Some Catholics also use the burial shroud particularly the Eastern Catholics and traditionalist Roman Catholics.
Muslims as well use burial shrouds that are made of white cotton or linen. The Burying in Woollen Acts 1666–80 in England were meant to support the production of woollen cloth.

Shroud returns to Twitch, exclusively

About returns
Return may refer to:

The power is back with the platforms, which have conspicuously stopped offering exclusive contracts to streamers — Grzesiek’s return to Twitch is the first, highest-profile move. (Guy “DrDisrespect” Beahm getting permanently banned from Twitch and then returning to stream on YouTube without a contract is a slightly different kind of movement.)

As the pandemic has decimated industries across America, it’s actually helped live-streaming flourish: according a report published by StreamElements and Arsenal.gg, Twitch grew a full 56 percent in terms of hours watched between the first quarter of this year and the second, and Facebook Gaming grew 75 percent over the same period of time. Grzesiek returning to Twitch means that his astronomical numbers — he has 7.1 million followers on Twitch as of this writing — will be counted toward what I’m sure will be even more growth in the back half of this year.

Shroud returns to Twitch, exclusively

A chart showing Twitch viewership by hours watched from January through June.Image: StreamElements and Arsenal.gg

Even so, it’s hard not to think about the reasons that live-streaming platforms might not want to sign new streamers to exclusive deals. First and foremost, there’s the pandemic: while these platforms are growing, COVID-19 has done a number on advertisers, which are integral to the business models of live-streaming platforms. Growth doesn’t necessarily mean a subsequent increase in ad revenue.

Second, it’s not so clear that signing streamers to seven-figure contracts brings in a commensurate amount of revenue; the competition between live-streaming platforms only started after Mixer shook up the whole market by getting Tyler “Ninja” Blevins to sign on their dotted line. Now that Mixer is gone, it’s not exactly clear whether any of the other platforms are willing to shake up the market again — it didn’t exactly benefit platforms to pay live-streamers tons of money just to have them stay there. (That said, Mixer’s legacy is obviously in how its lucrative contracts showed the top live-streamers how much they were worth.)

Personally, I think Twitch signing Grzesiek to an exclusive deal was more about not letting him leave again — which was a tactical error! — than it was anything else, similar to how YouTube immediately signed Felix “PewDiePie” Kjellberg after his contract with DLive was up. In many ways, you could even read Grzesiek’s homecoming as a return to the old status quo.

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