Update 1/8/2022: It's dead.
Original Article: While Ludwig Ahgren is over on YouTube, receiving automated content ID bans over a few moments of playing Baby Shark, Twitch has recently been dominated by the "Master Chef meta" where popular streamers like xQc have been spending a significant amount of their stream time watching episodes of Gordon Ramsey's popular American adaptation of Master Chef and "reacting" to them in front of hundreds of thousands of viewers. Despite the apparent copyright violation, Twitch has been lax about banning this content, leading to an explosion of MasterChef streams.
"React style" content about Master Chef has been driven by some of the largest streamers on the platform, including xQc, Mizkif, Pokimane, and more. While the "react meta" has been around for a while now, whereby Twitch streamers watch videos with their audience, the Twitch community seems particularly taken with Ramsey's cooking show of late.
But given the emphasis on copyright for Twitch in the past year, with many streamers having been forced to delete old VODs with copyrighted music, is the MasterChef meta sustainable? Unless streamers are getting approval from the copyright holders ahead of time, chances are DMCA claims will eventually be filed against MasterChef streamers, bringing the meta to an end.
Why the MasterChef Twitch meta is destined to fail
The first version of MasterChef was created for the BBC in 1990. The popular American version of the show headed by famed chef Gordon Ramsey originally debuted in 2010 and has run eleven seasons so far, with its twelfth season set for 2022. The US version of the show, which airs on Fox, has over 200 episodes making it a gold mine for Twitch streamers who are looking for easy content to cash in on, in lieu of creating original content.
Unfortunately, it is very unlikely that the creators and publishers of MasterChef will allow streamers to broadcast their show indefinitely. Eventually, the copyright owners of MasterChef will likely issue DMCA notices on these livestreams, even if the streamers diligently erase the VODs after streaming the copyrighted content.
Interestingly enough, this is not the first time MasterChef watching has become an issue on Twitch.
Back in 2019, Twitch streamer TrainWreck watched some episodes of MasterChef on his stream, for which many streamers and viewers condemned him, calling it stealing and lazy. Watching copyrighted content is a violation of the Twitch Terms of Service, and the platform states in its Community Guidelines that showing movies and television shows without the express permission of the publisher is against the rules. Despite this very explicit rule, Twitch has not yet cracked down on the practice.
However, streamer Asmongold argued that the MasterChef meta will collapse soon, saying: "The MasterChef thing isn’t gonna last. I’m pretty sure Trainwrecks got DMCA’d for that like two years ago. Eventually, they’re gonna DMCA streamers and as soon as the first one gets DMCA’d, everybody else is gonna stop watching it.”
TrainWreck himself chimed in on Twitter last week, expressing his outrage that streamers are now reacting to the same show he caught flack for watching, calling them hypocrites. He did not confirm or deny Asmongold's suggestion that he was DMCA'd, however.
Train stated in a now-deleted Tweet: "They wrote articles pushing for my ban, streamers & their communities catered to hate threads everyday saying I belong in jail, sued, or permabanned, and now you same mother f*ckers binging the same show, go f*ck yourselves."
While it is more challenging to police a live stream than VOD content, since it is only up during the broadcast, the same copyright rules apply either way. While it is possible that some of these streamers paid the licensing fee to Fox to stream the content, given that none of them have said this, it is difficult to assume that these streams are being done legally. And if streamers are engaged in illegally streaming MasterChef, it seems inevitable that the copyright holders will come for them, assuming Twitch doesn't enforce their community guidelines.
The ongoing Master Chef meta on Twitch stands in stark contrast to the challenges that Ludwig and other YouTube streamers have faced with YouTube's content-ID system, which is much more aggressive than Twitch's. Ludwig was banned several times in his first week streaming exclusively on YouTube, all the bans related to reaction style content.
While Twitch has long been more lax toward playing copyrighted music and videos on their platform, streamers should not get too comfortable relying on those things, given that earlier this year many streamers were forced to delete huge portions of their videos due to copyrights from music copyright holders. While Twitch's response can often be delayed, their disciplinary actions are often unwavering when they do finally pull out the ban hammer.
Aaron is an esports reporter with a background in media, technology, and communication education.