Comparing Webcam Chat Sites
Based on the objective criteria we brought together in the list of chatsites we can evaluate the sites we mentioned.
First the Free access sites.
Different sites have different advantages and disadvantages. If you want lenient site rules and favourable copyright conditions, MyFreeCams, Chaturbate and Cam4 may be your bet. If you want a lively and pleasant chat with your visitors, Cam4 may be your #1, closely followed by Chaturbate. If you look only for money, BongaCams may (currently) be your chatsite of choice. Category 1 sites will probably use your broadcasts only as live broadcasts. Category 2 sites will record your broadcasts, and may post them (without extra pay) as videos on pornsites they run.
We see 2 categories of free access webcam sites emerge. A category 1 of sites with a relatively high payout ratio of 45 to 65%, and a category 2 of chatsites with a lower payout ratio (35% or lower) and sometimes frightful privacy and copyright policies.
On all websites in every category we evaluated the minimum age is 18 years for both broadcasters and visitors. There is zero tolerance for being underage or even suggesting you might be underage. Also underage roleplay and on some sites even talking about underage sexual activities will be punished with a ban.
All webcam chatsites we evaluated require some sort of age verification. In most cases you have to agree to some kind of contract, and upload a picture of your ID and a picture of you holding it next to your head before you can start broadcasting. A site administrator will check the validity of your ID and accept it (or not). Cam4 only requires verification before the tokens can be paid out. On Chaturbate you can start broadcasting before you are verified, but you can only receive tokens after your verification is accepted. The other sites will only let you broadcast after verification.
On MyFreeCams in principle only single girl chatrooms are allowed. An all female duo or more person performance is allowed, but everybody who appears on cam must have her own ID verified account. On Chaturbate there is much more variation. Everybody over the age of 18 is in principle allowed to appear on cam. Male and trans, shemale (with mixed gender characteristics) and other gender identifications as much as female. Duo and group cams are also allowed in any gender combination and performances can represent any sexual orientation. Exceptions are underage performances and roleplay, non-consenting situations and violent or destructive activities. Check the site rules for details. In a verified chatroom all performers must be ID verified on that user account. People who usually visit others may also broadcast at times. If you are having trouble setting up your broadcast there is a good chance 1 or 2 experienced chatroom hosts visit your room and can assist you with tech advice.
It is often not really easy to get access to the broadcaster agreements. You have to be carefull and look at them seriously. They differ significantly from the openly published terms and conditions they present to the visitors.
In all broadcaster agreements we could retrieve there is a copyright statement. The copyright claims the sites make you agree to are all different. Of course the sites need consent from you to make your pictures available and to show your webcam stream on the website. But in most cases you will give away much more than just that.
The most favourable agreements you can get seem to be Cam4's and Chaturbates. On there you seem to give away least of the rights to the content you provide.
Cam4 leaves you all ownership, and you only grant license to put you on the Cam4 site and use your materials there. They claim the right to make “derivative works”, but if they do they will ask your permisson separately.
Watch out: On Cam4 and other places you may find links and references to something they call Cam4 Premium or Cam4Ultimate. Those are not really Cam4 but affiliate sites of Streamate. The conditions on those sites are therefore not Cam4's but Streamate's.
In their Performer Agreement Chaturbate requires you to grant them the right to distribute the “services” you perform using the site. They only claim rights to the things you deliver to the site and only in connection with the operation and promotion of the site. They also provide an explicit option for you to terminate the agreement.
BongaCams and MyFreeCams claim ownership of anything you put or do on the sites. But they both state they will not disclose your personal information to any third parties, other than necessary for the operation of the site. On Bongacams you have to fill out some details in your bio to get the full payout. You will only get the advertised €0.05 per token if you agree recordings of your performances can be sold at their "content shop". The videos will be sold for up to 50 tokens each, depending on the length. According to the helpdesk, you will get the tokens, and they assured us there will not be secundary places where the videos will be posted. Yet we would not fully trust this construction and would advise you to be cautious with it. Because they have all copyrights they may change policy in the future and decide to publish the recordings anyway. Disallowing sale of video recordings will lower the token payout by €0.005 (a half euro cent) each, to €0.045 per token, if all the other requirements are met.
Cams.com claims a license to use anything you put on the site or do on the site anywhere they want, but in the privacy statement says they will not disclose your personal info outside the operation of the websites they run. In the privacy statement they explicitly state they will not sell your specific information for marketing purposes.
Whatever you do on webcam chatsites will be open to strangers to see and there is always a risk you will find yourself back in a place you would not like to see yourself. The sites themselves however will not abuse your efforts. According to the rules and policy statements they provide, it seems on all category 1 sites you can safely go and do your thing. In this category you have the possibility to opt out and be forgotten, according to their statements and promises.
Category 2 sites are different. Not only do they pay out a lower percentage of earnings, they will also demand or take more from you when you go on there. Some of the sites are shady to say the least, and will not tell you everything you should know at face value. It seems these sites are more intimately related to the “porn industry”, and actively produce and market porn themselves. And you may be in it.
The first site in this category is Streamate. They seem to have a good track record among broadcasters. In our research we found many positive, and only very few negative descriptions. The copyright and privacy policies of Streamate seem to be comparable to the category 1 sites. They claim rights to use the content you provide forever, like many others. The big difference is, they run porn sites themselves. Granting them the right to use your content, means you allow them to post it on sites and present it as porn forever. They may make it available for paying customers of those sites and maybe in free previews, but will not let you share in the extra profit.
Then iFriends. An internet search on iFriends revealed an overwhelming number of complaints of people feeling ripped off or cheated by the site. Not only paying customers who faced hidden costs, membership fees they never actively agreed to or costs charged for things that were labeled “free”, but also broadcasters who saw incorrect percentage calculations, subtractions of pay for no viable reason, taking back money from their bank accounts that had already been paid out, and numerous other questionable practices. IFriends is the only chatsite we described so far that charges a membership fee ($10/month in january 2015) to broadcasters. Like Streamate, iFriends also runs a number of porn sites, many of them featuring webcam recorded porn. When you agree to broadcast on iFriends you also agree they record you and put you on those sites royalty-free.
In category 1, both Chaturbate and MyFreeCams always pay out more than 50% of any reasonable spending. You would expect most big spenders will buy bigger batches of tokens at a discount. On chaturbate customers can buy tokens between $0.11 per token for a small batch and $0.079 (7.9 cents) per token for a large batch. The maximum payout per dollar spent would be 5/8 = 62.5 %. The average payout ratio should be somewhere near 55% or more on both sites. Both have additional bonuses for top performers that were not brought in the comparison, raising the payout ratio even more.
If we look at site rules we see that Chaturbate, MyFreeCams and Cam4 will not demand anything from you. There are rules setting the boundaries of what is allowed, but the bulk of startup webcam performers will not get close to anything like the hardcore pornographic or self-destructive activities that are banned. You can always be non nude if you want, you can show nudity and play out your own and other peoples' fantasies as you choose to a high degree. Cams.com and BongaCams require nudity in private chat.
The busiest sites in category 1 seem to be Chaturbate and MyFreeCams. Cam4 is not as large as Chaturbate and MyFreeCams, but the traffic in the chatrooms on Cam4 is not much less.
As far as traffic is concerned, both MyFreeCams and Chaturbate perform more than reasonable. Both have huge numbers of visitors. The top 10 cams on any given moment will easily attract more than 1,000 viewers each. When we wrote this the top cam on Chaturbate had more than 6,000 viewers, the #2 and #3 cams had more than 3,000 viewers and the #4 and #5 cams had more than 2,000 viewers each. On Chaturbate it is extremely unlikely a female performer will be alone in her chatroom for longer than 10 minutes. If that happens there is probably some technical trouble. The bulk of the cams on Chaturbate will have between 10 and 30 viewers. Traffic on MyFreeCams is slightly less spectacular. But still the top cams will have more than 1,000 viewers each. The cams are listed in a different order on the 2 sites. On Chaturbate cams are listed in order of viewer count. The cams with most viewers are listed on top of the list. The effect is that popular cams are easy to find and will be even more popular. On the other hand some people will look at the bottom of the list on purpose, to find hardly noticed but attractive performers to have a quiet chat with. The worst place to be is somewhere in the middle of the list. If you end up there you may go unnoticed, even if you are attractive and appealing. People may be looking for you but not be able to find you. To avoid that it is important to be online a lot in your first week when you are favoured by the sites. Try to get a lot of followers in the first period so people can find you easier later.
MyFreeCams orders the cams in the listing based on past earnings and viewer ratings. Cams with a lot of favourable evaluations and cams that yielded more money in the past are ranked higher. New performers begin somewhere in the middle. Poorly performing broadcasters will loose rating points and end up at the bottom of the list.
Chaturbate has huge numbers of active performers. On an average day Chaturbate has more than 6000 active female performers at any time during the day.
MyFreeCams and Cam4 are somewhat smaller with around 1000 active performers at any moment from afternoon in Europe till late evening in the USA.
MyFreeCams uses a technically interesting way of listing cams. However it takes a lot of performance and on many computers a large part of the listing will be unreachable. That is partly offset by the ability to list cams in different orders. Both Chaturbate and MyFreeCams have the problem that some chatrooms may be difficult to find. At any moment, quite a number of rooms will have no visitors at all on MyFreeCams. An average chatroom will have somewhere around 5 to 10 simultaneous visitors. But those visitors spend more money than on Chaturbate. Cam4 has a more conventional way of showing the list of chatrooms. But there as well some chatrooms may experience a lack of focus.
On Chaturbate new performers are popular. Specially people who are not ID verified yet (and can not receive tokens) will attract a lot of viewers quickly. Smart new performers exploit that by working on getting followers before verification so they get extra attention when they go online after that. Unverified performers are banned quicker, specially if there is an issue with ID verification (and there often is). So there is always a risk you loose your new followers immediately at some unexpected moment and of course before verification you can't earn money. there is a risk On MyFreeCams a lot of the performance is done in private or group shows. On Chaturbate more things happen in public chat. Chaturbate has a brilliant and flexible system of apps and bots you can use to set goals of many kinds. Basically all methods and tricks that are present on other websites are also possible on Chaturbate. You can play a great number of games with your visitors, ranging from a simple goal (“if I get ### tokens I will do this or that”), to games like hangman or battleship. The system is very flexible and therefore quite complicated, but all viewers can also broadcast on Chaturbate, so many people can help and advise you with setting up the apps as you want it. Average incomes on Chaturbate and MyFreeCams do not differ much, and if you want to have fun chatting and playing while you make a buck, Chaturbate may be the website of choice for you.
On Cam4 traffic is large. Top performing cams on Cam4 will easily have more than 1000 viewers, and an average cam will have between 10 and 20 visitors in the room. It is possible to have no viewers for a while on cam4, but it is rare. Like on Chaturbate all registered users can broadcast. On Cam4 users who have tokens do not look different from others. That makes the atmosphere in the chatrooms very relaxed. People chat as equals more than on sites like Chaturbate and MyFreeCams. It will be difficult, if not impossible on Cam4 to favour potential tippers and big spenders. You need a different kind of attitude to be on Cam4. But still, the tips will come. Because ID verification is not obliged before broadcasting there are more amateurs present on Cam4 than on MyFreeCams or Chaturbate.
Currently, MyFreeCams and Chaturbate seem to be the center of the webcam chat world. If you look for income and want to have fun chatting, MyFreeCams will be your best choice, regardless if you are new or experienced. If you look for fun and games and want a good income on the side, Chaturbate may be your choice. If you want very relaxed chat and like to hang out with the regulars, Cam4 may be the website of choice.
In the category 2 camsites the payout ratio is outrageously low. Only about 1/3 or less of the money visitors pay goes to the performers. If you want to earn the same amount of money on Flirt4Free as on Chaturbate, you have to get the visitors to spend 2x as much on you.
One money making strategy we observed on Chaturbate is setting the price for private chat to the minimum of $0.60 per minute ($0.30 per minute, or $18 per hour payout), and showing no nudity. A few performers who do that have a modest but very constant income only chatting and maybe dancing and teasing a bit. In a number of cases, this low cost high volume strategy would result in private chats of longer than an hour, and people queueing up to chat in private.
To assess what performers actually earn on the sites we review, we did some measurements. To find out how much time performers actually spend in (paid) private or group chat, we counted the number of active (female) performers on the sites, and counted the number of performers in group or private at some moment. Dividing the number of performers in private/group by the number of active performers would give us a percentage or an average number of seconds per hour spent in private or group. From that we could estimate an amount of money actually earned per hour by private and group shows. To that we added an amount of tips in public chat, so we could estimate an average income per hour for a performer on each site.
Caution! People who are successful and make money are likey to stay longer on the sites, and people who do not make money are likely to leave after a few days. So the relatively successful performers are more represented in the estimate than the unsuccessful “dropouts”. Because you do not know in advance if you will succeed, the actual expected income when you start doing this should be lower than our estimates.
We started our measurements on an early monday evening (in western Europe) in january 2015. On Chaturbate we observed 608 active female cams, of which 48 were in private. Performers on Chaturbate can set their own prices, so we had to estimate an average. It looked like the average price for an actual private would be 18 tokens/minute, or $0.90 payout. So at the moment we looked, 7.9% of cammers were in private or group at $0.90/minute. That results in an average of 4:44 minutes / hour in private or group on Chaturbate, yielding about $7.10 per hour. If we add something to that for tips in public, we could say the average income on Chaturbate at that moment would have been somewhere near $12.50 / hour.
At the same time we observed 970 broadcasters on MyFreeCams, of which 37 were in private or group. That would only be 3,8% of cams resulting in 2:17 minutes / hour or 137 tokens. That would be $6.85. Performers on MyFreeCams spend less time in private than on Chaturbate, but because the price is higher, the income is similar. Like on Chaturbate, the average income on MyFreeCams would be somewhere near $12.50 per hour.
It seems the earning on BongaCams are quite good. At some point we observed 270 female performers online, of which 43 were in a private. That means they are private 16% of their time, or 9:33 minutes / hour at 30 tokens/minute. That would end in 315 tokens of €0.05 per hour. The resulting average earnings would be at least €15.75/hour. If we add a bit for tips In public, average earnings on BongCams may go past €20/hour.
Cams.com at that time had 330 female performers online and 25 were in a private show. That is 7.6% of their time or 4:33 minutes / hour. That is similar to the measurement for Chaturbate. Unfortunately we could not estimate the average per minute costs for actual privates.
On iFriends, we observed 124 female performers online, 14 were in private. That is 11.3% or 6:46 minutes/hour.
At time of measurment we observed 116 cams online on Flirt4Free, 23 of which were in show. At least 4 or 5 would not really be cams, but promotions. The 18 remaining performers would seem to bring in an average of 30 tokens, or $0.75 payout/minute. That would be 15,5 % of the time, 9:18 minutes/hour. That would result in about $7 / hour from privates.
Streamate uses a different system, so we can not estimate average earnings in this manner.
Many broadcasters try a few sites and stay where it is advantageous. A high income site will attract more broadcasters and in consequence the average income will decrease. Therefore it is not surprising the income for performers seems to be comparable on all sites. With BongaCams as a positive exception. In our very inaccurate and unreliable estimate of broadcaster earnings, BongaCams seems to come out a clear winner with an average income of maybe 1.5x to 2x as much as the others.