He avoided bans despite several instances of questionable behavior.
There are few Twitch personalities in the platforms history that have the influence to break 200,000 active subscribers, and a vast majority dont even attempt the feat.
Ninja set an astounding record in 2018 during Fortnites meteoric rise by peaking at more than 269,000, and it wasnt until three years later that anyone else eclipsed the 200,000 mark again. While Ludwig set a new record in 2021, it took an event unlike any before it to do so. Ludwigs 31-day subathon was organized as a calculated attempt at breaking Ninjas record, and just two years later, another streamer has imitated that very same feat with his own flair.
After a 30-day subathon of his own that concluded on March 2, Kai Cenat became the first person in Twitchs history to reach 300,000 subscribers. But unlike the people before him to reach 200,000, his efforts have come with numerous incidents that could have derailed the record-breaking performance.
Along with having multiple banned content creators on his stream, which is against the platforms guidelines, Cenat admitted he was given a warning for watching content from a banned streamer, iShowSpeed, and earlier this week, he appeared to be hiding sexually suggestive activity in plain sight. Over the course of the past three weeks, Cenat has continually toed Twitchs community guidelines as he racked up subscribers at a rate that few could even dream of accomplishing, and at times, Cenat has even crossed the line, blatantly breaking the platforms rules.
Yet he easily made it to the end of his subathon without facing any punishment from the platform, and its exactly what anyone watching would have expected. Despite numerous instances of questionable judgment that may have resulted in a ban at any other time, all evidence points to Twitch giving Kai Cenat preferential treatment while he went for history.
But the ugly truth is that all of this is less about Twitch understanding the historical significance of the moment. Its significantly more likely that this is about Twitch execs seeing dollar signs as thousands and thousands of people paid the platform for a 30-day subscription to Cenats channel.
Twitch did not respond to a request for comment regarding Cenats potentially guideline-breaking actions during his subathon.
After the end of February, Stream Hatchet, which collects data and statistics in the streaming industry, noted that Cenat set a record for the most hours watched on the platform in a calendar month with 43 million hours watched, averaging more than 66,000 viewers over more than 700 straight of airtime. The feat is unheard of. Even during Ludwigs subathon, he averaged around 42,000 viewers.
Related: Ludwig sends Twitch strong message after Kai Cenat breaks all-time subs
Cenats month was truly remarkable, and it makes him one of the most accomplished creators in the history of the platform. But dont get it twisted: Twitch held off on disciplining the creator during his subathon, when the platform had just as much to gain as he did through subscription revenue and publicity.
Kai Cenat isnt a stranger to toeing and even crossing the line on Twitch. According to StreamerBans, he has been banned four times on the platform, most recently days before his subathon. His most recent suspension was allegedly for smoking marijuana during a broadcast when he was in a state where it is illegal.
Over the course of his subathon, he committed a handful of questionable actions that could be seen as deserving of a ban.
As his subathon started, his first potentially ban-worthy offense that gained the attention of fans seemed like an innocent mistake on the surface. His friend brought a woman onto his stream by having her join a Discord call. As he started to speak to her, it came to his attention that she was banned on Twitch.
Having a banned streamer on your channel is against Twitchs rules and is a punishable offense. But the platform tends to have some leniency when creators dont know theyre assisting in a ban evasion and do what they can to remove the banned streamer from their content once they realize. For Twitch, it seems as though knowingly assisting in a ban evasion is an important element to getting suspended.
Though Cenat removed her from the stream quickly and went on to say that evading bans on Twitch is wrong, as soon as he was done apologizing for having the banned creator on his channel, he paused before saying free DEO. The phrase was a reference to BruceDropEmOff, who was banned on the platform earlier this year for ban evasion.
Uttering the phrase and following that with laughter strongly suggested Cenat was not in favor of Bruce being suspended from the platform despite the fact that he was banned for doing the exact thing Cenat was previously saying was wrong. The quick 180 indicates he may not have believed everything he was saying about the ethics of ban evasion.
Later on, Cenat showed further disregard for the platforms ban evasion rules when he appeared to call iShowSpeed, who streams on YouTube because he was banned on Twitch. Speed was apparently going through a breakup, and Cenat wanted to reach out to offer emotional support.
To try to cover up what looked like a clear ban evasion attempt, Cenat told viewers he wasnt actually calling iShowSpeed. Instead, he claimed that he was calling his friend John, who happened to also be going through a breakup at the exact same time and sounded like Speed.
Tripling down on the ban evasions, the 21-year-old received just a warning from Twitch for watching and reacting to a Speed clip. While Cenat was frustrated by the warning and seemed unaware that reacting to clips of banned streamers was against the rules, the ignorance is inexcusable considering Mizkif was suspended on Twitch last month for exactly that.
When added up, these events strongly suggest Cenat acted with reckless negligence, and thats assuming were giving him the benefit of the doubt. There comes a point at which claiming ignorance isnt valid, and given Twitchs recent track record for banning people like Mizkif for similar actions, these instances alone could have, under normal circumstances, resulted in a ban.
Perhaps Cenats most flagrant disregard for the rules was most recently, when he appeared to be touched inappropriately behind a bar by a woman who was standing next to him. While Cenat has vehemently denied that she was performing a sexual act on him, the video itself certainly suggests otherwise.
This isnt to say any of the young, budding Twitch stars’ offenses are so overtly despicable that he himself lacks any sense of character. Most of these situations would solicit a minor slap on the wrist, 24 hours to a week of vacation from the platform. Cenats career on Twitch shouldnt be jeopardy, but as an edgy 21-year-old streamer, he shouldnt be immune to punishment for transgressions that many other streamers have been disciplined for simply because hes doing a subathon.
Cenats subathon peaked at 306,621 active subscribers, according to TwitchTracker. With the base subscription costing $4.99, that figure represents more than $1.5 million in total revenue to be split between Cenat and the platform. That, paired with advertising money, as well as the free marketing and publicity the platform gains from the event, seems to suggest that Twitch would be highly incentivized to ensure Cenats subathon makes it all the way uninterrupted.
As a Partnered streamer, Cenat will likely earn more than half of that total revenue figure, especially when you factor in the more than 40,000 Prime Gaming subscriptions he received. But the massive lump sum of cash the platform gained from helping Cenat across the finish line cant be ignored.
Amazon acquired Twitch in an all-cash deal in the fall of 2014, and since then, some creators have become increasingly frustrated with changes in the platforms business practices, including reduced subscription revenue splits that were announced last year. As part of a publicly traded company, the subsidiary may have started to feel the building pressures to be profitable, as made evident by numerous changes to the way the platform displays and incentives advertisements, among other things.
In the past year, numerous Partnered creators have claimed the platform has forced them into contracts that require them to have a higher ad density, and some have even said Twitch staff came to the negotiation table with a significantly less friendly demeanor.
Ahead of his contract renewal, political commentator HasanAbi admitted he wasnt sure what to do about running ads because he was being forced to increase how many he ran. Meanwhile, variety streamer MoonMoon went as far as to say Twitch staff involved in his contract negotiations were lizard snake people.
The seeming relaxation of rules for Cenat during his subathon goes hand-in-hand with these other business changes even if it doesnt necessarily appear so on the surface. Remember, Twitch banned Cenat just days before this record-breaking feat, and if he watched Speed clips any other month of the year, theres a reasonable chance hed be banned for it.
Twitch seemingly giving Cenat a longer leash the past 30 days could have been because the platform was aware of how historic the moment was, but it seems more likely that the moment for them was a business opportunity, not a heartwarming representation of community growth.
As the platform has increasingly shown over the past few years and seems to have solidified by allowing Kai Cenat to get away with banworthy moments in his subathon, Twitch is beginning to look more concerned with its bottom line than cultivating a website built on its original core valuesbut let’s hope we’re wrong.