In June, Twitch permanently banned one of its biggest stars, Guy "Dr Disrespect" Beahm, with no public indication as to why. Today, Beahm streamed for the first time since getting the big, purple boot from Twitch-now on YouTube. He was met by hundreds of thousands of concurrent viewers. And questions.
Beahm announced his return yesterday, leaving his YouTube channel on a "live" splash screen for nearly 24 hours and allowing fans to spend money to join his "Champion's Club," which is what he used to call his Twitch subscribers. Many did. As soon as Beahm began streaming for real this afternoon, over 400,000 concurrent viewers showed up to gawk at his much-hyped return. Less than half an hour in, that number hit nearly 500,000 before slumping into a slow decline. Numerous viewers gave Beahm money. Around 30 minutes into the stream, he said the Champion's Club already had "over 15 million" members. When in character, Beahm has a habit of substituting "thousand" with "million," so it's likely that over 15,000 people have already signed up for a $5 per month subscription. Unsurprisingly, big streaming returns remain a lucrative business.
Beahm began the stream by saying that he had no big plans and was taking an unscripted approach. However, he did address the elephant that's going to follow him into any room he walks into for the foreseeable future. In response to questions about his Twitch ban, he reiterated what he claimed during an obviously orchestrated publicity tour of various press outlets last month.
"In regards to the ban, there's a lot of people who want to know what happened," he said during the stream. "Guess what: I want you to look me in my fucking eyes when I say this; I really want you to look me in my eyes when I say this. We still have no idea. We have no idea. 'Yeah, right dude, I'm not buying that one.' Bunch of phonies. We have no idea. And I'm gonna tell you this right now: As far as I'm concerned, we didn't do anything to warrant a ban, let alone how they ended up banning us. No communication before. No reaching out. Boom. Done."
He went on to acknowledge that people are "anxious" for an answer, but also attributed that anxiety to a "small percentage" instead of, you know, the entire internet. "You know what they want: something bad to happen out of it," he said. "Let's not beat around the bush."
As he said this, many viewers in chat typed messages like "WE WANT ANSWERS," while others called them haters, said they didn't care, and welcomed Beahm back.
Twitch clearly does not want this information in the hands of the public and has, so far, prevented that from happening, despite sustained efforts on the part of Kotaku and other journalists, as well as a veritable stampede of rabidly curious internet denizens.
Beahm noted, however, that there's still quite a bit going on in the background: "Last thing I'm gonna say about it: And I have to be intelligent about all of this, because you're talking about a heavy contract, lots of money," he said, referencing his previous deal with Twitch. "So let the legal professionals do what they need to do. That's it. Period."
He went on to describe the ban as "a speed bump," but "now we're back on the road."
Beahm's big comeback does not mean he's in the clear. While some have taken his Twitch ban to be part of a publicity stunt, the fact remains that an enormous streaming platform doesn't just tear up a multimillion dollar contract with one of its biggest earners for no reason. When he first got banned, sources told Kotaku and others that Twitch abruptly ended its relationship with Beahm over something very "serious." In the time since, Kotaku has spoken to numerous sources in and around Twitch and has learned that even most Twitch employees do not know why Beahm got exiled from the Amazon-owned streaming platform. Several have described the company's approach to this information as a "lockdown" limited to a handful of top people. Even Twitch's partnerships team, which is often involved in these sorts of matters, got bypassed, sources told Kotaku. Twitch clearly does not want this information in the hands of the public and has, so far, prevented that from happening, despite sustained efforts on the part of Kotaku and other journalists, as well as a veritable stampede of rabidly curious internet denizens.
In the absence of further information and thanks to Beahm's savvy manipulation of that vacuum, fans have rallied to his side, assuming that Twitch acted maliciously and their favorite streamer is innocent of wrongdoing. It's an easy judgement to make; Twitch is notoriously inconsistent, regularly untransparent, and bad at communicating. Sponsors like Mountain Dew Game Fuel continue to work with Beahm, which further paints Twitch as an outlier. This is an expected outcome when secretive corporate interests collide with the modern, personality-driven internet. Even if something smells extremely fishy, fans and companies aren't gonna drop a beloved, lucrative star until circumstance leaves them with absolutely no other choice.
At this point, Beahm is operating on YouTube independently. He is not signed to any sort of partnership deal or contract a la the one he had with Twitch. he intends to stream on Facebook and his own website, as well.
At one point during today's stream, Beahm semi-joked about how expensive the houses and cars that he owns are. "For a second there, I thought I was in trouble," he said, referencing questions about his career following his Twitch ban. For the time being, however, he's trying to treat this as business as usual. During today's stream, he got caught up on recent gaming events: Rogue Company, Fall Guys, and Halo Infinite, among others. Then he played Call of Duty: Warzone. He also claimed that he's starting a production company. He talked trash. He boasted and bragged. He flexed. He yelled. As of now, the stream is still going, and it's standard Dr Disrespect, the sort of thing he could have easily done on Twitch if he hadn't been kicked to the curb a couple months ago.
But he was. And hardly anybody knows why. No matter how hard he tries to swerve, pivot, and reboot his career, that will continue to hang over his head-at least, for the time being.