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Ludwig knows his streaming career won’t last, so he’s starting an agency

Offbrand will share the live-streaming mogul’s secret sauce with other creators

(Washington Post illustration; Offbrand)

Ludwig Ahgren knows a thing or two about events. Between a 31-day marathon stream in 2021 that broke Twitch’s all-time subscriber record and a live game show this year that blew the doors off YouTube, Ahgren has demonstrated an undeniable knack for eyeball-grabbing spectacle. Every year since he began streaming full time in 2019, it’s propelled him to new heights.

Now Ahgren, 27, is launching a creative agency called Offbrand to share that secret sauce with other creators. This might sound like a plan to chop off the leg up he currently has on everybody else, but that’s kind of the idea: Ahgren knows his career as a content creator isn’t built to last. Instead of fearing that inevitability, he’s embracing it.

“I’ve always accepted the fact that there will be a point where my career ends,” Ahgren told The Washington Post. “When I’m 45 years old, certainly I will be [too] out of touch to have that on Twitch or YouTube. … Rather than fear that and try to maintain success for as long as possible, I love the idea of helping other creators make things that I think are cool.”

Offbrand, co-founded by Ahgren alongside longtime collaborator and manager Nick Allen, content creator Nathan Stanz and former Twitch marketing specialist Brandon Ewing, is an agency and studio that will help creators with their own events and series from basically all angles: ideas, production and funding. The latter is key because events — even more so than a video game live stream with a top-of-the-line PC and high-end broadcasting equipment — are expensive. In July, Ahgren said his popular Mogul Money Live game show on YouTube lost him and his team $149,500. That in mind, Allen explained that Offbrand does the work of seeking partnerships and sponsorships that make sense for each event or series it helps create.

“We don’t look for any upfront investment from the creators we’re working with,” said Allen. “We want to take that on and help them benefit not only in making good content, but also in not having a heavy lift either through the actual work or monetary means.”

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Already, Offbrand has developed one series for another creator, North American Twitch king Félix “xQc” Lengyel. On Sept. 30, Lengyel will premiere the fruits of that labor: a six-part live game show called “Juiced” that sees teams of two compete against each other in real-life physical and trivia competitions. It’s inspired by Nickelodeon game shows from the ’90s, up to and including the part where losers get doused with green slime — only in this case, it’s called getting “juiced,” and the viscous substance in question emerges from an enormous re-creation of Lengyel’s nose.

Lengyel is not a streamer you’d typically associate with a planned and rehearsed production like this. He’s the kind of creator who prefers to broadcast from his own room for well over 10 hours per day, playing video games, reacting to YouTube videos and, until a recent crackdown from Twitch, gambling. But Twitch is a platform where top creators regularly interact, and even though Ahgren moved to YouTube late last year, he’s still very much embedded in the Twitch community. He knows everybody, and he’s one of them. That gives Offbrand pull other agencies and studios can’t match.

“I think it would be extremely difficult for another group of people to go to xQc even with the best show in the world and say, ‘You should do this,’ ” said Stanz.

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But Lengyel, in particular, is a prime representative of the downside of trying to turn streamers into polished, brand-friendly performers: Some are messy. Lengyel has spent the past handful of weeks embroiled in numerous personal conflicts turned public controversies stemming from his relationship, a gathering of popular streamers he was supposed to attend earlier this month and streamers airing each other’s dirty laundry in response to calls for gambling to be banned on the platform.

Still, Stanz pointed out that while Hollywood stars keep the closet shut a little tighter on their skeletons, it’s not like their personal lives don’t regularly bleed into their work as well.

“This is something that happens in media a ton, but because [xQc] is a Twitch streamer, it’s something that is a little more public facing,” said Stanz. “I think we’re not the first people to have to work with talent that is going through something, and we are not the first people that are going to help them — whether it’s through the show or other ways.”

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To Ahgren, pivoting to events makes sense in a time when more and more big streamers are starting to realize that broadcasting for 200 or more hours per month leads to burnout.

“If you are live 10 hours a day, you’re a zombie after that because you put everything you have into that period of trying to entertain the viewers watching,” said Ahgren. “It’s much better to think about what you’re going to stream for 80 hours and then to stream for 80 hours in a month — after a certain viewership point — than to just stream 160 hours with no plan.”

Even before his biggest successes, Ahgren’s approach was predicated on planning. Not long after he first started streaming, he realized simply going live on Twitch and waiting for viewers to show up was no longer enough. Instead, he considered how concepts — like the aforementioned month-long subscription marathon or a recurring segment where he let his Twitch chat spend his real money on Amazon — would play in discrete, well-packaged videos on YouTube. Now, with even top Twitch creators like Tyler “Ninja” Blevins and Imane “Pokimane” Anys growing increasingly platform agnostic, Ahgren believes this approach makes more sense than ever.

“There’s creators who all they do is stream, and if they just put in a few hours a week, I think they could make the biggest thing they do that year or maybe in their streaming career,” Ahgren said. “Part of the idea is, let’s not just make an event that gets good views on the live stream. Let’s make an event that will be watched on YouTube. Let’s make an event where clips will explode on TikTok, Instagram and Twitter. Let’s make more a piece of culture than just good live-streaming numbers.

“It might not be less stress,” he added, noting that there’s still anxiety and pressure that go into planning, scheduling and hosting, “but it certainly will make sure that your career lasts longer. I think it’s a more sustainable way to stream.”

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That’s not to say, however, that this option is available to all creators — or even most of them. Offbrand isn’t ruling out the idea of working with smaller creators, but they bring with them their own host of challenges.

“I’ve been working with a creator for about six months now,” said Ahgren. “He started with an average of about ten viewers, and the goal was to see if I could mentor this creator to become as large as possible. What I noticed in the process is that there’s a lot of finding your own voice as a creator, in the early stages, that would make it difficult to create a show or event [around].”

After “Juiced,” Offbrand plans to produce and co-produce a couple more events for Ahgren, including a “Chessboxing” championship in December that will iterate on and parody the influencer boxing trend that’s caught fire over the past few years thanks to YouTubers like Jake Paul. After that, the company will base event frequency on demand from creators.

As for Ahgren, he’s not planning to wind down his streaming career quite yet, but he knows the time is coming.

“When I first started streaming, I said that I would do it for five years and then I would quit,” said Ahgren. “I’m at the four-year mark right now. I don’t think I’m going to end at the five-year mark, but I certainly think there’s a point where I will transition away from being a front-facing creator, and Offbrand is my way of still being able to create and make things I think are cool … of still getting that same joy of making something I’m proud of.”

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