It’s time to face the elephant in the room. Between the last two established bastions of live streaming, which should you call home? Twitch, with its many streamer-first-driven features and established sub-culture? Or YouTube, the behemoth mega-platform with some of the best discovery tools available for content creators in the world? The Battle of Twitch vs YouTube for streamers begins in earnest.
It really is a tough choice, and for a long time, my recommendation has always been to stream on Twitch, and create separate YouTube content that will drive discovery to your Twitch content. But this recommendation is actually on the brink of upheaval with some seriously compelling evidence brought forth by EposVox and Forbes.
I say two, but there are technically three. I just can’t bring myself to promote Facebook. Still, the data is there in the video, do with it what you will.
Twitch vs YouTube: Does it matter?
There are many valid arguments that can be made for all of the platforms, though for this article, I’ll just be covering Twitch vs YouTube. Each has a number of compelling reasons to consider choosing as your home for your content. However, at the end of the day, does it matter what platform you choose?
Well…It depends on what it is you want to get out of it.
Consider these arguments.
The Argument in favor of Twitch
Here is a quick list of reasons that streamers usually give as their reason for choosing Twitch:
- It is easier to get to a point where you can start earning money
- You are able to provide your audience with monetary incentives in the form of emotes and sub badges for them to collect
- It has many community-building tools that YouTube lacks
- Has a unique micro-culture revolving around platform-celebrities
Since its original founding in the form of Justin.TV, Twitch has long since been the de-facto place to be for live streaming content. Over the many years of its existence, several streamer-oriented features have been added, refined, and has evolved into newer, modern, and honestly just plain better features.
Twitch has long since been the de-facto place to be for live streaming content. Over the many years of its existence, several streamer-oriented features have been added, refined, and has evolved into newer, modern, and honestly just plain better features.
With the draw of “making it big playing video games” at its core, aspiring gamers flocked to the platform, forging many small communities within. Heck, it even spawned its own micro-culture. Before Twitch, Kappa merely referred to a Japanese frog demon…thing. I believe the word is “Ayakashi”? Maybe “Akuma”? Whatever, not important. Now, those who have been indoctrinated into the sub-culture understand the term as a sort of “Trolling” emote. The same could be said to omegalul, and other phrases that are used to trigger the global emotes available to all users of the Twitch platform.
There are even people using the terms, like Kappa, out in the real world, emulating their favorite streamer. It really is fascinating how something like that can become a part of the normal culture. In addition, it is fairly easy to get access to uploading and using your very own custom emotes after you become a Twitch affiliate. Who knows, maybe your emote could spur the next “Kappa revolution”.
YouTube has a steep requirement for custom channel emotes
A strike against YouTube, and as a result, an argument in favor of Twitch is custom channel emotes. In order to get access to custom emotes on YouTube, you need to have monetization enabled for your channel. And that means you need 1,000 subscribers (basically followers) and 4,000 public watch hours. It is a fairly steep requirement, one that can take several months, depending on the content that you make of course.
In order to get access to custom emotes on YouTube, you need to have monetization enabled for your channel. And that means you need 1,000 subscribers (basically followers) and 4,000 public watch hours. It is a fairly steep requirement…
As a result, Twitch is a much more enticing option for those who wish to offer their budding community exclusive content as quickly as possible. Plus, it is a monetary incentive for your audience to subscribe to you.
Twitch has many supportive communities for smaller streamers
Just a quick note, YouTube also has these communities, though they tend to be a different…flavor, for lack of a better term.
There are several communities in existence that will go out of their way to get a novice streamer going and started on their journey. In fact, I myself had started my streaming journey in such a community, and I met many of my good friends in them. This was when Twitch actually had a streaming community feature, back in 2018. Feels like forever ago these days…
There are several communities in existence that will go out of their way to get a novice streamer going and started on their journey. In fact, I myself had started my streaming journey in such a community…
With that said, going into those communities can be a double edge sword, and many become overly-reliant on them. Some unfortunate and desperate individuals go so far as to tag every Twitter post they make with community-related hashtags. Yes, it does work to grow yourself slightly, but only within that community.
To everyone else, it makes you appear desperate for attention, like you lack the confidence to let your content speak for itself.
That isn’t to say those communities are totally bad for you; On the contrary, many offer very good advice, and can even offer you chances to be sponsored, depending on their size and clout. What I am saying is that you shouldn’t tag every post you make with their community tag to nab a mostly ineffective retweet.
Growing your social media is a viable method of getting some interest in your stream, but it needs to serve a greater purpose than just a plain old advertisement of your stream. Make some memes engage with those who follow you in their tweets (Actually respond, not just like and retweet.) The goal of social media is to make it as inclusive as you can, but this is already way off-topic, so let’s just continue…
People go to Twitch to watch live content
The biggest argument in favor of this platform has to be that many individuals go to Twitch for one purpose, and that is to watch a Live stream. The audience on twitch is heavily invested in the platform, collecting emotes from their favorite streamers to use across the platform. These people know what to expect from live video and tend to be more patient than individuals browsing YouTube.
On the other side of the fence, while YouTube does inform users when channels that you are subscribed to are live, unless you actively look for and watch live streams on YouTube, you’ll never get them recommended to you. The algorithm simply doesn’t know that your viewers will like to watch a live stream by you necessarily unless your audience is looking for live streams.
Hosting & Raiding – Community building tools
The final advantage that Twitch holds over YouTube is the Hosting/Raiding system that lets you forward your audience to another streamer at the end of your own. This can be used as a sort of “favor” building tool, and to support your friends in their own endeavors. Additionally, Twitch features panels and extensions, allowing developers to create interesting experiences for your viewers, including video overlay elements that are interactive.
Having access to things that are more than just the stream is a very compelling argument to choose Twitch.
The Argument in favor of YouTube
In the Battle of Twitch vs YouTube, I believe only One word is necessary to convince you to choose YouTube: Discovery.
This one factor has overwhelming importance for anyone looking to get traction on a new live streaming channel. The discovery tools available on Twitch are not very effective unless you are able to stand above a certain point within a certain category that just so happens to have a lot of people looking. It’s not even by any fault of their own. See, it was sufficient for a long time, but the platform has, quite simply, outgrown the major parts of the system in place. Sadly, they haven’t come up with anything that can serve the discovery of newer streamers effectively since.
YouTube, on the other hand, has the advantage of being HUGE. After all, it is the second-largest search engine in the world… and depending on how things go, it may well become the largest.
If you haven’t yet started a YouTube Channel, regardless if you plan to stream on the platform or not, I highly recommend that you do. Try to create unique content that stands on its own, separate from your stream. This can attract a different audience to your stream, resulting in more traffic.
Single, mega-platform for your audience
Outside of discovery, one of the strongest arguments in favor of YouTube is that your audience doesn’t need to check two different platforms to peruse your live and VoD content. People don’t like to make multiple accounts, preferring to stick with what they know and trust. YouTube is a Household name, known, and used by a little over Two BILLION people around the world per month. That is no small feat. With this number of people, your content is bound to appeal to someone.
YouTube is a Household name, known, and used by a little over Two BILLION people around the world per month. That is no small feat.
Even with the fact that YouTube isn’t live streaming focused, the viewer base is just so darned big that it doesn’t really matter. Roll the dice enough times, and you’re sure to score a nat 20, netting yourself a new watcher/chatter.
Sorry, my DND is showing. 😉
YouTube has some of the best Discovery tools in the world
As it is the single largest video distribution platform in the world, YouTube has a lot of people looking to watch stuff every single day. With this large audience in mind, they are continually releasing new features to improve their creators’ discoverability. One such addition to their platform is the new “YouTube Shorts“, which is a 15-60 second portrait video that has front page precedence on Mobile devices in its own category.
This tool, along with its powerful algorithm designed to find audience members they think would be interested in your content, contributes to the growth of your channel. This is, of course, assuming you make content that a certain group of people enjoy.
Finally, because it is so big, there are even some external tools that have been made that help you find ideas for content to create. One such tool is Keywords Everywhere, which can show you a rough estimate of the search volume for a specific keyword. I use it for my blog to find topics to write about when I’m in a slump, and it definitely does what it advertises.
Your streams are converted to VOD’s automatically
Any stream you do on YouTube is a video premier. It saves the entire stream, forever. There is no expiration like there is on Twitch, and no need to upload the VOD to YouTube at a later date, streamlining the creation process. Simply put, it is much more convenient. In addition to this, you don’t have to worry about DMCA takedowns – Merely Copyright claims and strikes. If you are worried about those, I suggest you look into stream-safe and YouTube Safe music resources, as music is typically the culprit in people’s videos. (This includes in-game music tracks!!)
These streams will also get some rank juice on Google, meaning people can find them when searching up something related to the subject of that stream. For example, “How we took down the end boss in World of Warcraft” as a VOD title might plop the video up in the SERP’s when people look up “Strategy for defeating X boss in World of Warcraft”. This video serves a purpose, and people do search for this stuff when attempting to do something similar.