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Shroud Announces His Return to Twitch

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  • Michael “Shroud” Grzesiek will be returning to Twitch as part of an exclusive streaming deal. Details of the agreement remain unknown as of now. 
  • The move comes after Microsoft was forced to buy Shroud out of his exclusive contract when it pulled the plug on its steaming platform Mixer this past June.
  • The deal has also reignited questions about where Tyler “Ninja” Blevins could land now that he is a free agent following Mixer’s end. 
  • Also this week, Amazon rebranded Twitch Prime to Prime Gaming in an effort to broaden its reach to all types of gamers and unify its entertainment offerings. 

Shroud Returns to Twitch 

After weeks of questions and speculations, Michael “Shroud” Grzesiek has finally revealed that he is returning to Twitch with an exclusive streaming deal.

According to reports, the site only saw 0.2% growth year over year. For comparison, Twitch and Facebook Gaming reportedly saw triple-digit growth, while YouTube gaming saw 65% growth.

When Mixer ended, Microsoft was forced to buy its exclusive streamers out of their contracts. That reportedly earned Shroud a cool $10 million and left him as a free agent. Since then, many have been wondering where he would move next, and now, we finally have the answer. 

Details of his Twitch deal were not disclosed, but Shroud made the announcement himself with an epic return video that said “I’m coming home.” 

According to Loaded, a gamer talent management firm that represents Shroud, he considered moving to YouTube and Facebook, but ultimately landed on Twitch.

In a statement to The Washington Post, Shroud said: “As I was exploring options, I realized that there was no better place than Twitch to engage with the best and most loyal gaming community worldwide.”

Meanwhile, Michael Aragon, SVP of Content at Twitch said, “There’s nothing better than a homecoming, so we’re thrilled to welcome Shroud and his incredible community back to Twitch.” 

For now, Loaded said followers will need to re-subscribe to Shroud’s Twitch channel but their subscription tenures will be recognized. 

What’s Going on With Dr.DisRespect and Ninja 

Some view this deal as Twitch’s attempt to strengthen its place at the top of the streaming market, however, others see Shroud’s homecoming as a return to the status quo.  

Still, it’s worth noting that the move comes after Twitch banned one of its top streamers Dr DisRespect. As far as what’s going on with Dr DisRespect, details of his still ban remain quiet.

He has started streaming on YouTube recently, with pretty impressive numbers. His first stream brought it more than half a million viewers, however, he appears to be streaming on YouTube on his own, not as part of any new deal. 

As far as what’s going on with Ninja, Shroud’s return to Twitch has definitely sparked new questions about where he’ll land. Ninja returned to his 15 million follower Twitch channel earlier this month and has also streamed on YouTube, but he hasn’t struck any deal as of yet, so many are still keeping an eye out for what his next move could be. 

Amazon Rebrands Twitch Prime 

In other interesting gaming news, Amazon has rebranded Twitch Prime to Prime Gaming this week as it works to unify its entertainment offerings. 

Prime Gaming is included in standard Amazon Prime subscription and Prime Video subscriptions. Prime Gaming users receive a library of games to play, new monthly releases, a Twitch subscription, and in-game loot for popular games like “Grand Theft Auto Online,” “Apex Legends,” “Red Dead Redemption 2,” and more.

This is pretty much the same as how the service worked when it was known as Twitch Prime, and the Twitch-specific benefits are the same too, which means you still get the premium chat badge and extra emoticons. 

So why did they change it? Well, Amazon, which owns Twitch, is hoping this rebrand will help widen its appeal. It’s likely that some prime members aren’t aware of all the bundled options for Twitch memberships and other related offers. The idea is that rebranding could clarify that Twitch Prime isn’t just live streaming or regular Twitch users. 

Larry Plotnick, director of Prime Gaming said, “It has nothing negative to do about Twitch.”

“We love Twitch. We’re still very deeply partnered with them. But the goal here is really to reach as broad of an audience as possible, reach as many gamers as possible.”

When Twitch Prime launched in 2016, Plotnick said it had a focus on “predominantly core gamers,” but the world of gaming has grown so much over the last few years so this rebrand is part of an overall vision to include different gamers who play on different devices. 

In fact, you might have already noticed that over the last few years, more mobile games have been included in its offerings. According to reports, Prime Gaming will also soon add more family-friendly titles to its lineup. Users can also keep its PC game offerings permanently, even if they choose to end their subscription.

Amazon also hasn’t really seen broad success in its standalone efforts to break into the gaming space. For example, it’s latest game “Crucible” flopped and was then pulled from wide release as a result. Now, Amazon hopes that if members pick up on the benefits of Prime Gaming, it’ll help with their overall marketing efforts and success in the gaming space.  

See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (ESPN)

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Former Member of David Dobrik’s Vlog Squad Says He Was Sexually Assaulted by Jason Nash on Video

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  • Former Vlog Squad member Seth Francois says he was sexually assaulted in a 2017 prank that YouTubers David Dobrik and Jason Nash pulled on him.
  • Francois agreed to be in a video where he would make out with fellow Vlog Squad member Corinna Kopf while she was disguised as an old man. However, the costumed person he actually kissed was 45-year-old Nash.
  • In 2018, Dobrik pulled a nearly identical prank on Francois again, despite Francois repeatedly stating he was not okay with what happened.
  • Francois says he is not trying to “cancel” anyone but his attempts to resolve the matter behind closed doors with Dobrik have not been successful, so he felt he had to tell his story publicly. 

Seth Francois Calls Kissing Prank Sexual Assault

Former Vlog Squad member Seth Francois says he was sexually assaulted in a prank that massive YouTuber David Dobrik pulled on him with fellow creator Jason Nash. 

Francois first told his story to Ethan and Hila Klein on the H3 Podcast on Feb. 12. The prank in question happened in 2017. At the time, Dobrik asked Francois if he wanted to be in a video where he made out with Corinna Kopf while she was disguised as an old man. Francois agreed, but when he kissed the costumed person, Kopf was not the one behind the mask. Instead, it was 45-year-old Nash. 

“I was touched by someone I did not consent to,” Francois said on the podcast. 

He told BuzzFeed News that it felt wrong when it happened, but as more time passed, he began to feel even worse. He decided to call a sexual assault hotline to talk about and processs the situation. 

“They said, ‘I’m sorry you were sexually assaulted.’ And I broke down,” Francois told the outlet. “I called my mother and some of my close friends and I said, ‘I can’t believe that happened to me.'”

Francois said Dobrik asked if they could make a similar video again, but Francois refused, explaining he did not like the prank and did not want to have to go through that again. Still, in 2018 Dobrik ended up pulling a nearly identical stunt. 

The second time, Dobrik told Francois that they were making a commercial for Jack Link’s Jerky, which Francois was thrilled about. When Francois got to the set, there were people in gorilla costumes, and he was instructed to make out with one. When that person took their mask off, it was Nash again. 

Francois said this incident ultimately led to him moving out of Los Angeles.

Jack Link’s Jerky has since tweeted that they were not involved in the stunt and do not condone any non-consensual conduct that occurred. 

Other Allegations Against Dobrik and The Vlog Squad

On top of all this, Francois said that during his time in the Vlog Squad, he was pressured to participate in racist jokes that played into stereotypes about Black people. He felt he could not say no to these bits.

“It was an unwritten thing where you see a pattern of people saying, ‘Yo, I’m uncomfortable with this,’ and all of a sudden they disappear and they’re not in videos anymore,” he explained on the H3 Podcast. 

These are just the latest in a series of accusations former Vlog Squad members have made about Dobrik, Nash, and group’s general culture. Nik Keswani, known to fans as Big Nik, explained to H3 that the group was “toxic” and like a cult. Keswani said that he was bullied and felt forced to make jokes about his own size, which led to other people thinking they could make fun of him in cruel ways. 

YouTuber Trisha Paytas has also accused Dobrik and Nash of inappropriate behavior on multiple occasions. Both she and Francois also say they have heard rumors about Nash assaulting other people or sleeping with minors. In some cases, Paytas says victims have contacted her directly about it. 

Dobrik has not commented on the sexual assault allegations brought up by Francois, but over the summer he did issue a general apology for offensive content he had posed in his past. 

“I want them to have a positive experience when they interact with anything I produce,” he said on his podcast, “Views.”

“And with that being said, I feel like on a handful of occasions I just missed the mark on that, and that really bums me out.”

Why Francois Is Speaking Out

For a long time, Dobrik has been a top creator on YouTube. He is known for his Tesla giveaways and was dubbed Gen Z’s Jimmy Fallon by The Wall Street Journal. Francois said he felt the need to speak out because he fears Dobrik is not remorseful and is unaware of the harm he has caused. 

“If [Dobrik and Nash] don’t know what’s wrong and they don’t understand that what they did was wrong, it makes me feel like that could still happen. Or maybe it has happened to other people who are afraid of speaking up,” he told BuzzFeed

Francois said that he has asked for the videos to be removed, but Dobrik tried to offer him cash to keep them up. Dobrik eventually unlisted both prank videos and later privated the second one.

Francois has since tried to resolve the matter privately but has not gotten a response from Dobrik. He told Insider that his goal in speaking up is not to “cancel” anyone, though he felt he had no option but to make the matter public. He is now also considering legal action, which is a path he initially did not want to go down.

“People were saying I’ve betrayed David, but I feel like he betrayed me,” he told the outlet. “I was very hurt and even right now talking about it, it really makes you want to cry.”

“They profited off causing me a lot of mental trauma, which is something that really hurts to know,” he continued. 

Now, people are calling for Dobrik to respond to the allegations. Many are starting to see his content in a new light and believe he should issue an apology. 

See what others are saying: (BuzzFeed News) (Insider) (Yahoo)

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Australia Strikes Deal With Facebook To Restore News on the Platform

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  • Facebook said Monday that it will restore news access to Australian users after striking a deal with the country.
  • Last week, Facebook cut off all access to news on the platform in Australia in response to a proposed law that would force it to pay media publishers for hosting their content.
  • In the days that followed, the Australian government offered several concessions to the proposed law, including giving the platform more time to lock down deals with media publishers.
  • Per another amendment, it’s also possible that Facebook could largely escape the law altogether if it is able to strike enough deals with local media organizations.

Facebook Will Restore News

Facebook struck a deal with Australian lawmakers Monday to restore news on the platform in the country.

The announcement comes as a quick turnaround from last week when Facebook made good on a threat to block all forms of news in Australia. Notably, that ban was in response to the expected passing of a law requiring large tech companies to pay media publishers for content that appears on their platforms.

On top of blocking all news organizations in the country, Facebook also blocked all Australian outlets globally. In fact, the ban even seemed to target non-news sources, such as state health departments and Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology.

After several days of discussions between Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Australian Treasurer Josh Frydenberg, Facebook seems to be content with several negotiated changes to the proposed law.

“We have come to an agreement that will allow us to support the publishers we choose to, including small and local publishers,” Campbell Brown, head of news partnerships at Facebook, said.

Among those changes, Facebook will receive more time to lock down deals with publishers instead of being forced into immediately making payments. The original draft of the law would have required Facebook to pay for content (ie. headlines, links, etc.) based upon terms set by a government-appointed arbitrator.

Now, that third party will only intervene as a “last resort,” according to Facebook spokesperson Adam Isserlis in an interview with NBC News.

One amendment in the proposed law could also give Facebook a shot at skirting it all together. That’s because it stipulates that digital platforms which have significantly contributed to the Australian news industry could receive exemptions. 

Facebook, for example, might be able to find such an exemption if it brokers enough deals with local publishers. 

Facebook said news should be restored for Australian users in the coming days. 

See what others are saying: (NBC News) (Axios) (The New York Times)

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PewDiePie “Disappointed” by YouTube’s Removal of His CoComelon Diss Track

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  • In a live stream Sunday, PewDiePie said he was “really disappointed” and disagreed with YouTube’s decision to remove his latest diss track aimed at the popular children’s channel CoComelon.
  • The YouTuber added that his live stream was not the right place to address the controversy and did not comment further. 
  • YouTube removed his diss track Thursday for violating its child safety policy because it looked like it was made for kids but contained violence and other inappropriate content.
  • The platform also said the video violated its harassment policy, noting that it allows criticism and diss tracks, but this one “crossed the line” because it “had the effect of encouraging abusive fan behavior.”

PewDiePie Addresses Controversy

PewDiePie briefly responded to YouTube’s decision to remove his latest diss track for violating its child safety and harassment policies.

In a live stream Sunday, the YouTuber seemed hesitant to address the controversy at length. “If there’s a place for me to address it, it’s not during a livestream, but I also really want to play today,” he said.

“So I’m just going to say I’m really disappointed, and I obviously disagree, but I’m not going to address it further than that today. Sorry guys,” he continued.

He also admitted that part of him did not want to live stream because he knew he would be bombarded with questions about the diss track, which made headlines since YouTube’s Thursday announcement.

The Diss Track

Last week, PewDiePie uploaded a diss track aimed at the popular children’s YouTube channel CoComelon, a nursery rhyme channel with 105 million subscribers and over 94 billion total channel views.

In the last few months, CoComelon earned PewDiePie’s attention after it became clear that it could quickly surpass him in subscribers and maybe even become the platform’s biggest channel. That prompted fans to ask for a diss track like the ones PewDiePie famously made during his subscriber battle with the Indian media company T-Series.

Just days after uploading the video, however, YouTube pulled it down. Team YouTube then took to Twitter to explain the decision, writing: “To clarify, this violated two policies 1) Child safety: by looking like it was made for kids but containing inappropriate content (incl violence) 2) Harassment: we allow criticism & also diss tracks in some cases, but w/ both policies in mind, this video crossed the line.”

The platform also banned all full and partial reuploads, though it allows still images from the video.

The video may have disappeared from YouTube, but uploads of it still exist elsewhere on the internet. For those who haven’t seen it, does include a lot of swearing and vulgar jokes. PewDiePie even throws in some digs at Tekashi 69 and JK Rowling, and near the end, children in the video appear to use fake weapons to attack a watermelon – a reference to CoComelon’s watermelon logo.

According to YouTube, the removal did not result in a channel strike, but further violations of its policies may result in one.

“Our policies prohibit content that leads to repeated patterns of harassment on- and off-platform,” a spokesperson told The Verge. “Following a review, we’ve removed the video in question for violating those policies because they had the effect of encouraging abusive fan behavior.”

While some might find that hard to believe that the video could incite abuse, it’s worth noting that PewDiePie’s previous T-Series diss tracks may have set a precedent here. Those songs, and the global campaign to make PewDiePie the #1 most subscribed channel on YouTube, led to an outpouring of harassment and sometimes racist sentiments against T-Series.

Still, others think YouTube could have age-gated his CoComelon video to avoid any issues. Others also noted that the platform has allowed more graphic music videos to remain on its site and suggested that it consistently protects channels that bring in the most ad revenue.

Before YouTube’s decision, PewDiePie said he was proud of the diss track and stressed that the song would put an end to his fake feud with CoComelon.

“I wanted to make it clear before I start this video by saying that, you know, I saw this as the finale. I saw this as ending the meme,” he explained.

“I’m not going to continue with it because number 1: It would just not be funny. And number 2: I don’t actually care about CoComelon. Like if anyone ever passes me in the future, I’m not going to make a whole spiel out of it. It was fun for what it was. And number 3: I don’t want it to get out of control like it did last time. So I just wanna be clear. Keep it civil. Keep it fun.”

See what others are saying: (The Verge) (Bloomberg) (Dexerto)

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