The relationship between Twitch and YouTube started amicably enough. Twitch allowed streamers to easily export their highlights to YouTube, while YouTube added a notification to channels for when the creator was live on Twitch. But the symbiotic relationship quickly turned hostile, and now the two video giants are locked in a war for the future of gaming video content.
YouTube draws some of the largest global audiences for its gaming videos, but previously lacked the ability to broadcast live. This lead to the launch of YouTube Gaming, a direct attempt by YouTube to dethrone Twitch.
Twitch, on the other hand, has become the leader in live content. But the company recently announced a new upload tool that allows content creators to host videos – not just Twitch VODs – on their channels.
If you’re a content creator, especially one that uses both platforms, Twitch’s upload tool could entice you to create content there exclusively. Likewise, a Twitch streamer may be attracted to YouTube’s live streaming offers. But is either one the right choice when you’re trying to grow your brand, and your audience?
What do the platforms do for creators?
To help give me a broader perspective, we spoke with GrandPooBear, an up-and-coming content creator on both platforms. He offered his insights on the direction Twitch is looking to take with its latest media tool, and how it affects his work as a creator.
He tells me his primary reason for using YouTube is to store highlights. He finds that while Twitch is the most useful tool to earn revenue, YouTube certainly offers him another kind of value:
“I found that YouTube has helped many viewers crossover and watch the live stream itself. Basically, I can take the same content I make on Twitch, cut it down to a sleek 15-minute package, and create another revenue stream without having to create new content.”
Even though the upload tool is still a fresh concept, he doesn’t have any major concerns. Though GrandPooBear — like many content creators — is curious about the monetization model.
How do creators make money?
YouTube already has an established infrastructure in place for users to monetize their content, either through ad partnerships, networks, or YouTube Red. It’s not yet clear what tools Twitch will put in place for their video hosting tools, nor how these tools will interact with existing streamer partnerships.
“Are they running ads? What is the split on them? Outside of my speedruns themselves, I will not be using Twitch upload until at least those questions are answered,” Poo said.
For the moment, Twitch has a less restrictive policy on digital rights management, and haven’t enforced contract clauses for those who currently stream their gaming content on other services. But will this change with the advent of Twitch’s video hosting platform?
“It’s just very vague in its early stages,” he says. As a result, GrandPooBear isn’t looking to make any impulsive decisions. “As it stands right now, I would be doing myself a disservice to upload my edited content to Twitch uploads, as I would limit my market to just those who watch Twitch. The program itself is much too vague to risk taking away even a few views from my edited content on YouTube.”
He also added that there’s currently no audience for pre-recorded content on Twitch, although he points out that there’s always a chance that could change. Although Twitch does have a strong identity with gamers, he doesn’t feel that the upload tool will be the death knell for YouTube.
And since YouTube does have a significant cash flow to work with, it seems unlikely that they’re just going to wither away in obscurity. YouTube has proven to be useful for multiple high-level personalities, media organizations, and other content creators like GrandPooBear on the rise.
Do creators even need to choose a side?
“Twitch is for gamers. There are plenty of non-gamers who fall the YouTube rabbit hole and end up watching, and sometimes loving, gaming content,” he said. “YouTube was the first to market and is mainstream. Twitch is still very niche, and is playing catch up in this particular space.”
So what would it take for YouTube to win him over, and exclusively stream on YouTube while only cross-posting VODs to Twitch upload?
“I can’t see anything happening that would cause me to leave live streaming on Twitch,” he said. GrandPooBear says that Twitch already has a strong head start over YouTube when it comes to streamers, and says Twitch’s treatment towards content partners is nothing short of “amazing.”
However, he did at least entertain the theory, though he wants to keep his options open.
“Some people only use YouTube and Twitch, and any person who focuses on live content is doing themselves a great disservice to not leverage both in my opinion.”
In short, GrandPooBear isn’t particularly fond of the idea of being limited to one space. This is bound to be the same stance that full-time Twitch partners take as well.