Let’s Play – but for how long? German broadcast regulator takes aim at further live channels

The future of live streaming channels looks more than ever uncertain as news spread that German broadcast regulators contact further Let’s Play channels. The channels concerned stream live video gameplay and usually include commentary by the gamer. According to a German broadcast regulator, such channels have to apply for a license as such programming would qualify as “broadcasting”.

Such classification could create serious problems for many channels. A broadcast license not only causes additional costs, but the law also imposes strict advertisement and youth protection restrictions on broadcasting. A problem, in particular for channels that show live streams of adult games. Such channels may either be required to use technical means to restrict access or show their streams only late at night or in the early morning hours using TV watershed hours. Restrictions that will likely make the channels less attractive for followers.

It is not the first time that live channels in Germany were requested by a German broadcast regulator to apply for a broadcast license. However, whereas until now only vlogger channels with substantial numbers of followers were affected, the regulator now also contacted smaller channels.

“Game over” for Let’s Play live streaming channels? Not yet, as there are already initiatives in German politics that propose to change the regulatory framework and exclude live-streaming channels from the requirement of a broadcasting license. But this regulation is with the Federal States, not the Federal Government, and thus needs all 16 Federal States in agreement.