A Twitch channel subscription might soon get you considerably more than emotes, ad-free viewing and access to special chat rooms. The service is launching a beta for Subscriber Streams, or live broadcasts that are (you guessed it) limited to people with active subscriptions, mod privileges and VIP status. It won't be thrilling if you don't like paying for Twitch, but it could help creators who want to reward paying fans with behind-the-scenes specials, all-request game sessions and other perks. Non-subscribers will get a preview of these streams with immediate access if they choose to sign up.
On-demand videos will be available to subscribers, while clips won't have restrictions.
The beta is available now to any broadcaster who has reached Affiliate or Partner status. And yes, Twitch is aware of the potential for abuse by creators who might want to lock questionable content behind sub-only livestreams. You're only allowed to offer Subscriber Streams if you haven't violated community guidelines in the past 90 days, and anyone can report potential violations even if they only saw an offense during the live previews.
This does risk creating different tiers of Twitch experiences where some content is locked behind a paywall. However, it could easily appeal to experienced Twitch broadcasters hoping to boost their subscription counts. That, in turn, could lead more Twitch users to either start broadcasting in the first place or step up their efforts. You might benefit simply by seeing more (and higher-quality) streamers, even if you have no inclination to pay.