At TwitchCon 2016, the Amazon-owned company announced that Twitch streamers would now be able to upload pre-recorded footage to their channels. This is an interesting feature which may get some using the site more than they previously did. However, this in itself is a small step to entice over the YouTube creators and Twitch has a long way to go to make the move more viable.
Here are things that Twitch doesn’t currently do, or do readily enough, and would need to do to appeal to more creators and viewers.
Partnerships and Revenue Sharing
Currently, you have to apply to Twitch to become a Partner. To become a partner, you have to be approved by having a frequent schedule, a number of regular viewers, which can be hard to obtain due to poor discoverability, and they make your application. At that point, you can have viewers subscribe to your channel and share in the revenue from advertisements on your content.
At YouTube, that barrier of monetising your content is a lot lower. Prove who you are, follow some guidelines regarding the type of content you create and get a revenue share from any advertisements.
To be competitive, Twitch would need to share the revenue from advertisements on a channel regardless of their status. Perhaps a lower tier partnership agreement where you can earn ad revenue but not have the other perks Twitch Partners enjoy. That way a channel can earn something while building a viewership and content.
Currently finding content on Twitch is terrible. This leads to the popular channels being more popular and new channels struggling to gain any more than a handful of viewers. One of the main problems is the Twitch landing page where what you are greeted with is some random popular channels at the top, then a list of games below.
Compare that to YouTube, a page full of videos including recommendations based on your prior viewing, categories of videos and your subscriptions. This makes discoverability of new creators and content more available to site visitors.
So to aid with discoverability, Twitch would need to redesign their front page to show more creator channels and recommendations rather than just showcasing the bigger channels and events.
When looking at the two pages, content above the fold (the point at which you need to start scrolling to view more) the difference in discoverability is clear. YouTube has over double the content and a list of categories whereas Twitch purely has big or sponsored channels and events.
While not a massive feature for some, YouTube has a lot of data on who is watching your content, what countries they are watching from and other useful information to help you build the content more effectively. For example, if European viewers make up your main viewership and they enjoy Minecraft videos but drop off when you play the latest game on Steam then you know that your audience really wants Minecraft. That allows you to make more of those kinds of videos and build your audience.
Twitch limits your data to how many viewers you have, how many viewed your archived content but nothing more. That means you can see which is the most popular but nothing more. Where are those viewers from? What would they like to see more of? How long do they watch your content for?
This is probably all telemetry that Twitch already has to hand but doesn’t currently share it with creators as readily as YouTube does.
We know that some will disagree with some or all of these items due to the fact they like Twitch the way it is. However, it is increasingly difficult for new content creators to look to Twitch as a place they can be discovered and watched. YouTube in turn, it looking to gamers and content creators to build up their own offerings and currently offer the better deal.
Twitch has its own benefits over YouTube in that it streams from any console, PC or mobile with little fuss and no need for external capture devices. That means anyone can jump in as a streamer at the push of a few buttons with no investment. These casual streamers aren’t the target of this article but we do appreciate that they are out there.
Of course, there are many other options out there like Beam.pro which was recently picked up by Microsoft but the site is a way away from competing with Twitch and YouTube and doesn’t have its own console app, although we are sure Microsoft is working on resolving that.