Long read. Get comfy.
So YouTube Gaming launched today as of this writing. If you’ve been hiding under a rock, it’s YouTube’s attempt to dethrone Twitch as the top live game streaming service. Before I delve into the debate, it’s important to note Internet traffic. According to the total Internet traffic, which admittedly is outdated since the Tier 1 providers like Level 3, AT&T, Sprint, etc, haven’t released stats for almost a year, Netflix is king.
That’s no surprise, but in the latest report –
Netflix – 32%
Google/YouTube – 22%
Twitch – 1.8%
Facebook – 1.5%
Valve (Steam) – 1.3%
Amazon – 1.2%
So keep those stats in mind. At face value, YouTube is where it’s at, but they’re just getting into the live streaming gaming community, which is currently dominated by Twitch. That’s a very basic rundown of the traffic, so from here I’d like to address the biggest question most have as far as which platform to stream on.
Some disclosure – I’m not a streamer. I’m involved with both Twitch broadcasters, partners, and YouTubers as far as automating scripts, API interaction, web sites, marketing, analytics, and other geeky stuff that would probably bore you. I personally couldn’t care less who “wins” as far as YouTube vs Twitch. I’m first and foremost a viewer, a fan of my favorite content creators. If one of my favorite streamers on Twitch exclusively streams on YouTube, I would watch them there. Same goes for my favorite YouTubers who stream on Twitch.
Here are some preliminary pros and cons not only from my experience, but from talking to friends on both platforms, and reading industry and media publication articles. Before I list them there’s one major distinction that should be made: Twitch states for partners in their contract that they cannot stream on any other platform.
Part of the Twitch Partner Contract states
(1.3 – Exclusivity) and Exhibit A: You would not be able to stream live gaming related content on any other service except for Twitch (Source: VentureBeat)
Many partners and media outlets have contacted Twitch to clarify if this means dual broadcasting to both, or if it means Twitch partners can’t ever live stream to YouTube. Thus far there’s been no response from Twitch, nor have they taken any action against their Partners who do dual streams. It’s been troubling that they aren’t responding to any of it, and part of it could be that they know even their biggest streamers already have well-established YouTube channels and don’t want to risk pissing them off for loss of the roughly 50% cut they get from subscribers.
That doesn’t matter to the vast majority of people who stream on Twitch though – non-partners. So, some pros and cons if you want to stream on YouTube:
- Full DVR functionality for your viewers at any time. The viewers can rewind 20 seconds, start from the beginning, etc.
- All live streams are automatically posted on your channel.
- HTML5 is fully implemented. This probably doesn’t mean a thing to most viewers but it’s faster, less resource-intensive, and much more secure. Twitch has plans of implementing HTML5 but as of now only the player controls are. The player itself is still Flash.
- There’s no minimum viewer requirements, no lengthy partnership application process, no application denials, and so on. if you choose to monetize your streams and subsequent videos, you can. I believe this helps smaller streamers/broadcasters to grow more organically rather than being so stressed out by the complete inconsistency of who and who doesn’t get Twitch partnership.
- Let’s face it, Twitch’s VOD system quite frankly sucks. It’s hard to navigate, hard to find for most viewers (hence the pathetic number of views), and only are available for 60 days. Twitch recently made a policy chance to remove VODs because they didn’t get many views, yet ironically enough it’s their own interface that caused it. It’s no coincidence that most live streamers not only are also YouTubers, but they put the Twitch content on their channels.
- YouTube’s chat system is the worst attempt at community building I’ve ever seen. For bigger streams on Twitch at least it scrolls in real-time and could be put in slow-mode if needed. With YouTube you can only see the last 8 messages every 10 seconds. As toxic as real-time chat can be at times, interacting with chat is the best way to build your community in my opinion.
- Twitch allows much better moderation tools for both you and your moderators. Again, this doesn’t sound like a big deal but it’s a huge for community building. I personally mod many channels for 1 simple reason – I want the content creators to do what they do best – create content, not be distracted by trolls, racist comments, sexist comments, and so on.
- Lack of post-production. Most gaming videos are 20-30 minutes for some very good reasons, however when you do a several hour stream, it becomes available in a multi-hour video. It would be ideal if YouTube provided better editing tools to allow things like cutting out the parts you don’t want published (like the first 15 minutes of your “stream starting soon”), cutting the video into digestible parts, adding predefined prerolls/postrolls, etc). You could obviously do all of this locally, but it defeats the purpose of the automation.
- YouTube doesn’t offer subscriptions like Twitch does. Both platforms offer “stream tips” and donations, but YouTube doesn’t give any option for monthly recurring income other than ads when you monetize.
- Good luck trying to contact anyone at YouTube. Twitch isn’t the best at replying either but there’s a slightly better chance.
Things to be concerned about, or not, regardless of the platform –
- Whether you make videos once a month or 8 hours a day as your full-time job, your brand and community is important.
- Never EVER, get stressed about your viewership numbers, likes, favorites, followers, subscribers, or growth rate. Don’t compare yourself or channel to anyone else and think you’re not doing well. Keep cranking out content and realize that it can sometimes months if not years to really grow.
- I didn’t list this as a pro or con, but content-matching, I.E., playing copyrighted music will become a bigger and bigger issue. Twitch allows it on live streams, for now. YouTube doesn’t allow it for live streams and videos. Either way, there is PLENTY of royalty-free and indie music which you should use instead. If you’re serious about music on your streams/videos, do some research.
- There’s absolutely no rush to choose between YouTube Gaming or Twitch. Try both, see what works best for you as a content creator, see how both platforms evolve and offer new features.
- I could go on and on about strategies for streaming, marketing, branding, and so on. Rather than rambling about that here, check out my other rambling articles here on StreamerSquare. 😉
Remember that YouTube Gaming is on day 1, Twitch is on day 1,549. I do get amused by the rabid Twitch fanboys and girls that say things like “YouTube has no chance”, “Twitch won the streaming war”, etc. The game is just getting started and both teams have literally billions in the bank to play ball.
My final thought about this whole YouTube Gaming vs Twitch is that we, as viewers, are the ones that will ultimately benefit. It’s now basically Google vs Amazon and I can’t wait to see what features and innovations they make both on their own, and in response to each other.
They both have literally billions to spend on what amounts to a pissing match in the game streaming war if they choose to. It’ll also be interesting to see if YouTube approaches Twitch partners with proposals to entice them to change platforms. Full-time Twitch partners earn the bulk of their income by subscribers and obviously don’t want to take an income loss by relying on less income while they rebuild their community. This obviously does not apply in all cases, but the point is that no big Twitch partner is going to switch to YouTube unless they offer a juicy contract. I for one would not care if a streamer “switched” from Twitch to YouTube Gaming or vice-versa for financial reasons.
TL;DR, just stream on Hitbox.