On March 14, Ludwig Ahgren started a stream with no set end date. Last night, an entire month later, it finally ended.
For the better part of 31 days, Ahgren played games, worked out, watched movies, and even slept on stream. At night, his moderators took over, podcasting and collaborating with viewers to share videos and other media. All the while, a timer ticked down. But as long as viewers kept kicking in subscriptions, it wouldn’t hit zero (though it did get extremely close a couple times). It was, by and large, a pretty relaxed approach to making history; Ahgren now holds the record for most subscribers in Twitch history. Even the stream’s finale was relatively low-key. Instead of fireworks, Ahgren and his friends destroyed the race car bed that had become a centerpiece of his stream over the past month. Then they chilled out, made dinner, and talked about somehow existent militantly pro-labor Disney movie Newsies.
That’s not to say the subathon was a walk in the park. Indeed, Ahgren has not gone for a walk in the park—or done much of anything—without tens of thousands of viewers following along for an entire month. During the stream’s waning final minutes, he sat in his bedroom and spoke frankly about the experience, which he chose to end yesterday in lieu of allowing it to continue for additional days, weeks, or months.
“I know one time, I’ll hit the ‘stop streaming’ button for the last time ever,” Ahgren said. “And it’s not that far away, even, when we think about our whole life. So even though it’s been a taxing month—weird, grueling at times—it was nice to not have to hit the ‘stop streaming’ button for just a brief period of my life. I could wake up, like a sleepover, and immediately get to hanging out.”
This, he stressed, is likely a one-time thing.
“It’ll never happen again,” Ahgren said. “And that’s a good thing. You were here for the last subathon I’ll ever do. I’ll still be live. I’ll still be doing things...But this will fade, which is why it was special. And also why I was able to do it in the first place—because I knew it was contained.”
Ahgren began the subathon expecting it to go 24 or 48 hours, largely in hopes of making a splash after he took a brief break from streaming because “all of our lives as streamers, whether we like it or not, are dictated by numbers on screen.” And while the month-long stream was, as he pointed out, grueling, he was able to maintain healthy habits.
“I slept, like, eight hours every night,” Ahgren said. “I ate three square meals every day. I’ve never been more consistent about working out than the subathon.”
Granted, he was able to do those things on stream because he started the subathon with an already-ravenous built-in audience. Smaller streamers could not weather the kinds of viewership hits Ahgren sometimes took while living out the more mundane aspects of his day-to-day existence. So on one hand, he successfully demonstrated a new, healthier way forward for marathon streams, but on the other, he might be one of only a relatively small handful with the means to pull it off.
This in mind, Ahgren tried to turn the subathon into something that would benefit others. He said that he’s going to donate “around $350,000” of his subathon earnings to charity.
“That’s crazy,” he said of the amount. “I tried to turn this into a selfless endeavor as much as I could, feeling the overwhelming guilt of all the money and people that were coming in.”
Over the course of the subathon, Ahgren gained a million new Twitch followers and hundreds of thousands of paid subscribers, not to mention mainstream press exposure and numerous trending moments on social media. But Ahgren wasn’t always a gleaming success story.
“I moved to LA because I only got one job interview after getting two degrees from college, graduating cum laude, and I got fired from my job that I got,” he explained as his stream wound down. “Worked at Best Buy, got fired from Best Buy. Moved over to Snapchat, got fired from my marketing job. And the only job I could never get fired from was streaming. And it’s probably the only job I’ve ever really loved.”
“As the clock winds, two minutes left, I got nothing left to say but thank you,” he added.
After that, he paused and quietly watched chat scroll by at a million miles per hour. Then he broke the silence.
“Don’t get it fucked up!” he said. “I’m not your friend. No parasocial relationships. I can’t know any of you. 200,000 people in my stream right now. But somehow, you guys, as a collective...”
He paused again, visibly holding back tears.
“...made me really happy.”
After that, he thanked everyone and saluted. Then the stream faded to black.