We're now 12 days into variety streamer Ludwig Ahgren's 'never-ending' subathon Twitch stream and, by golly, it actually looks like it could end this weekend. As I write this, Ludwig's chat of 36,000 viewers is fighting to keep the timer above 18 hours by tacking on another 10 seconds with every subscription. The streamer's efforts have already made him the most subscribed-to channel on Twitch right now with the second-highest total sub count ever of 120,000 (second only to Ninja's record peak of 269,000).
And wow, does Ludwig look tired.
He's been eating, sleeping, and sometimes showering to an audience of thousands. The stream has maintained such a ludicrous momentum of subs and time added to the clock that Ludwig and his team eventually capped the number of subs that a single user can buy to 100 (equaling $500). The cap feels like a gentle nudge toward bringing the stream to a close, which in all will likely net more than $500,000.
There's just one wrinkle: Ludwig has a trip planned for tomorrow, March 27, that he isn't bailing on, which means he'll be forced to step away from the stream for the first time in almost 300 hours. How much his sub count grows over the next 12 hours will likely determine how this thing finally concludes.
At the current pace (oh, looks like 18 hours has slipped to 17) the timer will reach zero sometime Saturday morning. Last minute surges could delay the end even further, and in the event that subs are still pouring in as he leaves, Ludwig's crew has sketched out a rough plan. The subathon will go on, but they'll hit pause if they have to.
Streamer Slime (Ludwig's roommate) will take over the subathon in his absence and even sleep on stream in Ludwig's racecar bed. "I understand that this is Ludwig's stream, but we're in a weird spot," Slime said. "The [Ludwig] viewer does necessarily wish to see Slime," he said. "What I do not look forward to is 1,000 people asking, 'Who the hell is this bald douchebag?' That's just really annoying." Ludwig chimes in, "You're my horcrux, and I don't want to die."
In the event that the timer is about to strike zero while Ludwig is away, his team has been instructed to halt the timer when it reaches one hour. "And then when [Ludwig] comes back, subathon is back on like Donkey Kong and the one hour starts again," Slime said in an update this morning. Off-screen, Ludwig adds, "It's like the last lap in Mario Kart."
It's entirely possible that this theoretical conclusion turns into a two- or three-day extension. At 10 seconds per sub, it takes around 8,600 subscriptions to extend the timer a full day. A big reason the stream has already gone on so long is that Ludwig's subathon is designed to rally waves of subs at key milestones. At the bottom of each hour on the timer, the numbers begin to blink red like it's some sort of doomsday clock. The slight change catches the eyes of his tens of thousands of viewers and brings in enough new subs to climb back up a few minutes. (17:45:44 now, looks like 17 might not hold on for long.)
Outside of the video itself, Twitch's built-in tricks for drawing more money out of an audience are hard at work. Each time a Hype Train activates in chat, viewers show up with bits and subs to fill the arbitrary progress bar and Ludwig often nets 300 or 400 percent of the initial 'goal.'
I can speculate all day, but the beauty of this already historic stream is that the end is always in sight until it isn't. The mystery is part of the fun, and watching Ludwig play whatever games he's feeling at the moment isn't bad either. Even with a significant payday at the end of the tunnel, I'm not sure my Charisma stat is high enough to stay 'on' for 12, 13, or maybe 14 days straight. Ludwig seems to be coping well (he's apparently getting 8 hours of sleep each night), but after almost two weeks a day out of the house seems like a welcome break before it's finally over.
Before it's probably over. After another push for subs a few minutes ago, the timer has already returned to where it was when I started writing this. 17 hours, 53 minutes.