YouTube has primarily focused on video on demand (VOD) content, one off videos made by their creators and uploaded unto their site for available for consumption at any time.  Twitch has primarily focused on live content, mainly gaming (video games), meaning their creators stream their video content and is available for consumption as it is being made.  While both companies specialize in video content, they had different focuses, so it was not a direct competition.  YouTube has reigned as the undisputed king for video content since it was bought by Google in 2006; however, since Amazon acquired Twitch in 2014, Twitch has been increasingly encroaching on YouTube’s market share at an accelerated rate.

YouTube realized that with the backing of Amazon, Twitch was going to become a serious threat, and in 2015 launched YouTube Gaming a direct competitor for Twitch.  However, they didn’t launch with competitive monetization features to Twitch until 2017, which severely stunted the growth of YouTube Gaming until then.  In the time between launching YouTube Gaming and making it actually competitive, Twitch answered with it’s own VOD upload system in 2016.  Twitch creators could now make their own VOD content and upload it directly to Twitch, bringing Twitch completely inline as a direct competitor to YouTube.

Then there was the YouTube Adpocalypse.  YouTube lost dozens of BIG advertisers that made them have to make big changes in order to stop the financial bleed.  YouTube created a tiered advertising system (green for all ads, yellow for some, and grey for none) to give their advertisers more control in hopes to win some back.  However, scandal after scandal, kept the advertisers away.  This caused a lot of content creators, constrained with new guidelines and a loss of income to seek an alternative.  Twitch saw an influx of YouTube creators.  Big YouTube creators like Jenna Marbles and Boogie2988 had already diversified over to Twitch, and other big creators like PewDiePie and H3H3 followed.  As a last ditch effort to appease advertisers, YouTube overhauled it’s partner program.  All creators with less than 1000 subs and 4000 hours of watch time over a twelve month period, were removed from monetization in February of this year.

To a lot of small creators, this was a final slap in the face.  For comparison, in April of 2017, Twitch actually made monetization available to thousands of creators on their platform, by launching the Affiliate Program.  As you can see from the comparison chart below it is a lot easier for small creators to meet the monetization threshold and start earning on Twitch, than it would be on YouTube.

As the comparison chart shows, it’s easier to qualify to monetize your content on Twitch; however, there are a few areas that YouTube still has the advantage.  While Twitch has better discoverablilty for small creators because its a smaller platform not overrun with algorithms, YouTube’s main strength is it’s massive size.  YouTube has a large audience and has been in the public eye for longer.  This makes it easier for larger creators to diversify their financial portfolio with sponsored content and brand deals.  Twitch still hasn’t quite shown itself to be the safer option over YouTube with advertisers with it’s own controversies of abuse and big creator mistakes.  In addition, it’s home content of gaming does not lend itself to as large of a brand pool, and Twitch is actively trying to encourage creative and IRL creators to join the platform to increase variety.

As of today, there does not seem to be a clear winner.  This is going to be an ongoing battle, and the competition between these two giants will mean more opportunities for creators.  Who do you think will win?  Let us know in a comment below!