Is YouTube Losing Its Gaming Community to Twitch?

Gaming is a big business on social media and YouTube claims to be its king, with more than 200 million daily visitors just to watch gaming videos and Livestreams. Thanks to a large number of gamers and creators who transformed YouTube into a gaming platform.

Evolving Video Consumption

Back in 2005, when YouTube witnessed its first video reaching a million views, the power of a dedicated online video platform for individuals to learn, connect and to be entertained became clear . However, YouTube usage among gamers skyrocketed the following years. The platform introduced gaming creators like Felix Kjellberg, better known by his YouTube handle name, PewDiePie, Logan Paul and so on.

The presence of YouTube gamers and the emergence of new secret millionaires like PewDiePie resulted in various studies and analysis to observe how gamers behave, and to understand the emerging arena in the game market.

By 2012, gaming videos got so popular among the audience that the total amount of time spent watching them more than doubled than the year before. Studies show that the overall growth of the total time spent on the platform was greater than the overall growth of YouTube in the U.S. that year.

In 2014, Amazon spent nearly $1 billion on Twitch, a video game live streaming platform, which gave YouTube the urge to have a much harder look at gaming videos. This resulted in the release of a separate gaming app by YouTube in 2015.

YouTube might be the king of online video for nearly every other niche, however, when it came to gaming, the popularity of Twitch stood against the YouTube wave.

Gaming Creators on the Rise

In September 2018, YouTube announced in a blog post that its YouTube Gaming app dedicated to video game live streaming will officially cease to exist on March 2019.

However, it was not all bad news. The shut down of YouTube’s dedicated gaming app only meant that YouTube gaming will live on as a part of its main platform thereafter. The new gaming page for YouTube highlights top Livestream, top videos and top games that are popular among the audience. The newly updated platform will also put a spotlight on the new and emerging creators every week in order to help the community grow, called the ‘Gaming Creator on the Rise.’

Trouble in Paradise

Nevertheless, YouTube has had a rough patch of time recently after the platform played host to some of the most disturbing videos on the internet, including videos of child abuse, racism and homophobic content. This was followed by numerous major brands including Coca-Cola, Amazon and Verizon deciding not to run their ads alongside channels that contributed white nationalism, paedophilia, North Korea propaganda and similar controversial content on YouTube, hurting the later in millions of dollars in revenue.

YouTube addressed this issue by ‘strengthening’  their monetisation requirements thus discouraging spammers, impersonators, and other ‘bad actors’.  If the requirement to qualify for YouTube’s monetisation program in April 2017, was to have a minimum of 10,000-lifetime views, it is now raised to a threshold of 4,000 hours of watch time and 1,000 subscribers over the past 12 months to prevent potentially harmful videos from monetising.

You Only Matter If You’re Big

YouTube’s new monetisation policy, even if it was intended to prevent advertisements from appearing alongside controversial content, also penalised a vast majority of small, niche channels.

With the new policy, YouTubers need to reach a ‘popularity threshold’ before they can even start to be a part of the revenue making system of YouTube. So maybe, by adapting to the new policies, YouTube, a platform once seen as a way for anyone to find their audiences, is now a platform that represents mostly the big creators.

YouTube, a platform once seen as a way for anyone to find their audiences, is now a platform that represents mostly the big creators.

Can a Niche Gaming Platform Best the World’s Largest Streaming Site?

Twitch may not be a household name like YouTube, but purchased by Amazon in 2014 and with over 15 million daily visitors, it was able to gain the attraction of the creator community, and also that of the top talents from some of the world’s most popular platforms, including YouTube.

In 2017, YouTube was able to grow its streamer base up by a large 343% , while Twitch, by comparison, grew 197%. By the end of Q1 2018, Twitch’s viewership went up to 21%, growing from 788k average concurrent viewers in Q4 2017 to 953k in Q1. While YouTube Gaming dropped by 12% from 308k average concurrent viewers to 272k in Q1.

How Did Twitch Benefit from YouTube’s Demonetisation Policy?

When YouTube changed its monetisation policy by restricting many small creators from making money, it stirred concerns among the creators that the new policy might only allow big creators to get bigger, while the smaller influencers with a niche audience might feel less supported. This policy of exclusion could be enough for the smaller creators to stop thinking of YouTube and find a platform that rewards talent — like Twitch.

Even though YouTube has a rich list of gamers, their recent updates mean only fewer people qualify for the YouTube Partnership Program. This diminishing support for the grassroots community of creators could damage the reputation of YouTube, thus forcing many influencers out of the platform along with a good number of their audience.

While as, Twitch, the prime contender against YouTube, provides the creators with various monetisation options through their Twitch partner programs.

Twitch partners are creators who are committed to streaming a variety of content including games, art, music, popular culture, TV or just about anything you can imagine. As a Twitch partner you will have access to the following monetisation benefits;

  1. Channel subscriptions & emotes:
    Twitch partners can earn money by accepting subscriptions from their audience and can also unlock 50 channel emotes.
  2. Bits:
    Bits are the new Twitch currency / purchasable animated emojis and are used for tipping streamers. The partners share the revenue that Twitch receives from Bits, which equals to one cent per Bit used to cheer for them.
  3. Ads:
    Partners can also share the revenue generated from any ads played on their channel.

The fan funding element of the Twitch Partner Program and the easy monetisation options make Twitch the new favourite and a more reliable income source for the online gaming community.

With the growing popularity of Twitch and YouTube’s new policies for creators, let’s keep a watchful eye on the latest numbers from each brand to see which platform will bring out the top gamers and creators.