Besides the standard ad revenue and subscription numbers, one of the main ways that Twitch streamers rely on for their income is through the generosity of their viewers via donations and tips. Up until now, donations and tips for viewers are usually done outside of Twitch, but Twitch has decided to embrace the concept donations, and they are implementing special emotes to facilitate them.
These new emotes are called ‘Cheers,’ and in order to use them, one must first acquire Twitch’s own currency called ‘Bits.’ Once the viewer has acquired some ‘Bits,’ they can start using Cheer emotes in the chat channel. There are five tiers of Cheers, each of them requiring a specific amount of Bits to use. The lowest tier Cheer, Cheer1, costs 1 Bit to use and will net the streamer 1.4 cents. The highest tier Cheer, Cheer10000, costs 10,000 Bits to use and is equivalent to a USD 140 donation.
Currently, the Cheer system is under a limited beta test where only 30 or so big-name streamers are participating. However, if everything goes well during the beta, you can expect to see the Cheer function to go live within the year.