“More than a hobby”: Former GV student making a living, loving life streaming NBA 2K on Twitch


Courtesy / Caspar Camille Rubin on Unsplash

Kellen Voss, Print Associate Editor

Much like thousands of young adults in March, former Grand Valley State University student Dyllon Hoover was out of work because of the coronavirus.

After two years of casually streaming, Hoover decided to do what he once considered a hobby full-time, as he now livestreams playing NBA 2K on Twitch 40-50 hours a week.

“When corona hit, I didn’t have work going on, so I was like, ‘Well, I’ve been doing this streaming stuff, why not give it a chance at doing it all the time?’” Hoover said. “I started doing it six hours a day, and I eventually built up a fanbase that got pretty strong. I would say about June I decided to go full-time with it.”

Hoover first got into streaming on Twitch, Amazon’s landmark livestreaming platform, back in 2018 when he saw his roommate making money playing Fortnite there. It took a while for Hoover to build a fanbase, but he now has over 9,000 followers on Twitch, with 7,000 of those joining in the last eight months.

Dropping out with a year to go in his Sports Management degree, Hoover views streaming like any job a young college graduate would get out of school in that it’s a process to move up in the industry.

“I’ve just gotten started with it, so it’s kind of like an entry job,” Hoover said. “You have to build your whole brand up on a streaming platform before you have success, so it’s been two years of networking and building relationships with a people, and in the past six months is where I’ve seen all the growth.”

Now streaming 8 hours a day from 8 a.m.-4 p.m., Hoover is set to make $24,000 a year at his current pace.

The 22-year-old averages 75-100 viewers on the average stream right now on Twitch. The platform is free, but Hoover makes money through donations, gifted subscriptions and bits, which are cent coins that stack up during streams with lots of viewers. 

Hoover also makes a portion of his income through implemented ad revenue, as for every 1,000 people that see a Twitch-sponsored ad during his streams, he makes $3.50 per ad, which can add up quickly during longer streams.

Hoover has his eye on a partnership with Twitch soon, which would help to increase his revenue dramatically. In order to become a partner on Twitch, you have to apply through the Twitch Partnership Program, which looks into content, average concurrent viewership, and stream frequency and schedule.

At Hoover’s current status, when someone agrees to pay $5 a month for a subscription, half of that money automatically goes to Twitch. Once he becomes a partner with Twitch, Hoover can negotiate that percentage to get a larger portion of subscription revenue while having more freedom as to how he can engage with his subscribers. That partnership would mark a major step in his streaming career.

“As soon as I get my partnership, I can do anything I want and just have more fun with it,” Hoover said. “Until then, it’s a pretty heavy grind and you want to keep your audience up enough to reach that partnership level. Once I get that, I can have fun again. I can play other games instead of the same game every single time.”

Hoover made sure to emphasize that while he is working hard to move up the Twitch ladder, he is enjoying the fact that he still getting paid to play his favorite video game full-time.

“The thing about my job is I don’t consider it work because I enjoy it so much, and that’s something a lot of people will never get to do in their lives, and for me, that was a big thing,” Hoover said. “I don’t want to sit there and not enjoy what I’m doing for the rest of my life. This is a hobby that has turned into more than a hobby, which is so cool.”

The 22-year-old’s family was not too keen on the idea of him dropping out of school to play video games and drain virtual threes with Pink Diamond Steph Curry full-time, but Hoover thinks dropping out is worth because he is estimating he’ll make $60,000-$80,000 in the next year at the rate his channel is growing.

“My family was not on board at all, but I think mostly because of the generational gap and not realizing the opportunities that are there,” Hoover said. “All my family really wanted me to finish school and get my degree, but at the end of the day, when I decided to do this full time, looking at a starting salary of $24,000, I believe it will only grow exponentially. I was looking at an opportunity that I didn’t think I was ever going to get again because I’m young, I wanted to just go after it. If it didn’t work out, I can just go back to school.”

While Hoover said that he may go back to GVSU to finish his degree one day, he could see himself streaming full-time for a long time. He has put in a lot of work over the past two years, playing in multiple “Sub-a-thons” ranging from 12-24 straight hours and recently placing 15th in a worldwide 2k tournament for $250,000.

“Streaming is one of those things that a lot of people try but a lot of people aren’t built for — it’s a really big grind and dedication,” Hoover said. “A lot of people think it’s going to be super easy to jump and be good and make money playing video games. It’s not like that at all. It’s hard to build a resume, a platform and grow at all. For me, the best thing I can is if it’s something you’re passionate about, chase after it. It can be an absolute grind.”

To watch Hoover continue to chase his dream on his Twitch channel, you can watch him stream at www.twitch.tv/xHoove.