YouTube vs. Twitch: A Definitive Guide

YouTube and Twitch are the biggest streaming platforms that satisfy users’ daily streaming needs.

When it comes to user-generated content, YouTube dominates Twitch. While the two share similar audiences, Twitch does something very different: live-streaming. Let’s see how these two video streaming giants, Twitch and YouTube, compare.

Market Share of YouTube vs. Twitch

A major distinction between YouTube and Twitch is market share. YouTube has over 2.6 billion monthly active users.

Twitch has 140 million monthly active users. YouTube has orders of magnitude more viewers than Twitch. But that is not necessarily a bad thing for Twitch.

There are clear differences between audience interests across the platforms. Twitch is designed from the ground up for live streamers in California.

It has grown into the largest live streaming platform in the world. YouTube, on the other hand, dominates the pre-made market.

This isn’t to say that live-streaming isn’t done on YouTube. Indeed, YouTube may have higher instances of live-streaming than Twitch.

But Twitch isn’t necessarily aiming for a bigger viewership base. Twitch is mainly used by gamers who live-stream ‘speed runs’ of popular video games.

Viewers are drawn to the fun and giggles along the way as they attempt the speed runs. In any case, both platforms require their creators to be original, funny, and charming.

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Browsing Habits

Twitch is aimed at the live streaming crowd. Not everyone has the appetite to sit through live streaming sessions. In this sense, Twitch aims at a very niche market.

You can always watch past broadcasts. Scroll down the channel and click on the “Videos” tab. Scroll to the “Recent Broadcasts” section to see all available broadcasts.

Creators can upload pre-made videos to their Twitch accounts. This is, however, a privilege. Uploading to Twitch will require you to have reached the partner or affiliate status.

There are no such restrictions on YouTube. You can live-stream and upload pre-made content without having to meet any requirements.

Another bid difference is that YouTube allows creators to choose a custom thumbnail for videos. Twitch does not offer the same level of control to streamers in California.

This is important for many YouTubers who rely on sensational thumbnails to generate attention. A carefully designed thumbnail can allow YouTubers to stand out from the crowd.

This is why Twitch streamers have to set themselves apart. To make things worse, the Twitch algorithm seems to help popular streamers.

This makes it relatively difficult for new creators to get noticed. Smaller channels may never succeed because they aren’t given a level playing field.

However, endorsements from bigger streamers may send more attention their way. In this sense, getting popular on Twitch is like getting struck by lightning.

The odds of that happening are very low unless you get noticed by a bigger streamer. By contrast, YouTube has an algorithm that can reward all creators.

This incentivizes new creators to upload more content on YouTube instead of Twitch. Many smaller channels have used the YouTube algorithm to increase their view count exponentially.

YouTube Shorts, for example, is one such feature that provides most creators with a level-playing field. This isn’t to say that YouTube is easy to work with.

Creators often rely on clickbait and thumbnails to generate attention. Bigger creators with an established audience are less likely to engage in this behavior.

Rules for Content Creation

YouTube has a relatively strict set of criteria that creators must meet. Twitch, on the other hand, is more forgiving of policy violations.

This is because of the nature of Twitch live streams. A live streaming session is difficult to monitor compared to pre-recorded videos.

That said, Twitch streamers must follow various rules to avoid a permaban. No violence, hate speech, sexually suggestive content, or nudity is allowed on the platform.

YouTube has stricter rules and does not allow any nudity. Moreover, the YouTube algorithm punishes videos with sexually suggestive content.

Both platforms punish creators who violate these rules. Their approach to banning creators also deserves mention.

Twitch often bans creators with almost no warning. This can be upsetting to the creator and their user base.

Accounts may get reinstated if enough people are protesting against the ban. YouTube, on the other hand, has a three-strike system.

This ensures that the creator is given enough chances to course-correct their behavior before getting banned. If anyone persistently ignores YouTube’s warnings, they will have earned a ban.

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Ease of Growth

The algorithm on YouTube makes it easier for everyone to grow. Smaller creators are more likely to be noticed on YouTube.

Moreover, YouTube allows content creators to customize the thumbnail of their videos. This lets them stand out from the crowd. As mentioned earlier, Twitch does not allow the same level of control.

YouTube creators are more likely to receive organic traffic.

With that said, growing on Twitch isn’t that difficult – if you know what you’re doing. Twitch was designed explicitly for gaming content.

Gamers are more likely to succeed on Twitch than non-Gamers. Examples include Ninja, Auronplay, and Rubius – all area gaming channels.

Twitch is notoriously more difficult for content creators. Not everyone has a flexible schedule to live stream daily to gain viewers. YouTube allows you to upload pre-made videos.

These videos have a chance of getting picked up by the YouTube algorithm. YouTube creators can be active and passive in their community to promote their content.

Most experts agree that growing on Twitch as a small creator is difficult. We recommend building up an audience on YouTube before starting a Twitch channel in California. 

Monetization of Content – YouTube vs. Twitch

Despite its smaller viewer base, Twitch has perfected the art of monetization. The platform empowers creators to earn from subscriptions, donations, endorsements, and more.

Donations can are made via a PayPal donation button and other platforms. Twitch takes 0% of donations because the money doesn’t directly go to them.

This allows Twitch streamers to pocket a higher percentage of their income. Twitch will collect 50% of subscription fees. This is where things get less exciting for Twitch streamers.

To show their loyalty, subscribers will receive perks such as sub badges and sub streaks. Even small creators are more likely to generate money on Twitch.

You must become a Twitch affiliate to monetize your channel. Twitch affiliates will have to broadcast 500 minutes over 7 days.

You must maintain at least 3 viewers and 50 followers during this time. This isn’t very difficult on Twitch. The real challenge is growing the channel.

This is because Twitch is not good at rewarding smaller channels. You will have to carry the bulk of the marketing for yourself. You can still get a few donations on Twitch – but the chances are low.

Twitch has a monthly subscription service called Twitch Prime. This allowed viewers to support their favorite streamers.

The bulk of your revenue on Twitch requires live streaming. This dashes the hopes of anyone hoping to generate a passive income.

Passive income, on the other hand, is YouTube’s wheelhouse. Any time someone watches your video with ads, you get paid. Depending on the video niche, you can generate a fortune from a single video!

Monetization on YouTube is a bit different. Users watch YouTube with the expectation that the content will be free.

YouTube does have steep requirements for monetization on its platform. Creators need to accumulate 4000 hours of watch time with 1000 subscribers.

Moreover, YouTube collects 55% of the ad revenue share from content creators. This can be a problem for YouTubers because the ads are blockable.

Viewers are known for using AdBlock plugins to block advertisements.

YouTube does make it a bit easier for users to generate income from live streaming. Viewers can support their favorite creators with Super Chat and Super Stickers.

It isn’t uncommon for viewers to pay over $500 for Super Chat. The incentive is to get noticed and have their comment read out loud in front of everyone.

YouTube will collect 30% off the Super Chat donations.

Another advantage of streaming on Twitch is sales from merchandising. YouTube doesn’t even come close to offering something similar.

Twitch streamers can use merchandising extensions to sell merchandise. This provides an additional revenue stream to streamers.

YouTube does offer a merchandising option, but the feature isn’t nearly as advanced. And YouTube only provides this feature to select streamers.

YouTube vs Twitch
YouTube vs Twitch

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Which Pays More: YouTube or Twitch?

There is a large interindividual variability in earnings from YouTube and Twitch. Both platforms make it easy for content creators to generate profits.

Most content creators prefer to maintain a presence on both platforms to maximize earnings.

We can estimate which platform pays more by comparing their top content creators. Twitch’s most popular streamer, Ninja makes $20 million per year.

One of YouTube’s most popular streamers, PewDiePie, is said to earn $4 million per year. However, this comparison would not be complete without looking at YouTube’s most subscribed channel: T-Series.

The Indian music giant has 224 million subscribers. It is said to have earned $95 million in 2020 from YouTube alone. This indicates that YouTube pays more to its creators.

Streaming Quality

Streaming quality on both YouTube and Twitch are similar. However, there are a few differences worth discussing.

YouTube has been around for longer than Twitch. Most users are familiar with YouTube’s user-friendly and intuitive interface.

It is easy to pause, skip, and rewind videos. Twitch does not offer this feature on live broadcasts.

If you pause a live-stream and play again, the video will take you to the current moment. Twitch isn’t challenging to use – but it does require a degree of familiarity.

The max streaming quality on Twitch is 1080p at 60fps. YouTube allows up to 4k at 60 fps. This difference in resolution isn’t because of technological challenges.

It is more challenging to live stream 4K videos than it is to upload pre-made videos.

Chatting on Twitch vs. YouTube

There are a few differences between Twitch and YouTube chatting. Twitch uses time base arrangement. This is because it doesn’t offer rewind and pause features.

This means that the chat is timed with the broadcast. YouTube, on the other hand, ranks comments and messages based on relevance. Viewers can be at different parts of the stream when leaving comments.

Twitch also offers emotes, or inside jokes, that are custom designed.

This allows content creators and viewers to make a more personal connection with inside jokes. Outsiders may not be privy to most of these emotes. YouTube doesn’t offer a similar chatting experience.

Both YouTube and Twitch allow you to assign moderators to your chat. Twitch takes this one step further by allowing content creators to assign their own rules.

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Types of Advertisers on YouTube vs. Twitch

It’s no secret that major businesses have embraced YouTube to promote their products and services.

Major billion-dollar businesses like Gillette and KFC frequently advertise on YouTube to improve brand exposure.

Twitch wasn’t seen as a major advertising platform in its nascent years. That has changed thanks to the efforts of content creators like Ninja.

Some of the biggest advertisers we have seen on Twitch include Pepsico, WildEarth, and UberEats.

Comparing Niches Across YouTube and Twitch

Content creators can discuss all kinds of topics on YouTube and Twitch. But you are more likely to find diversified content on YouTube on extreme niche topics.

You would be more hard-pressed to find DIY videos on making kitchen cabinets on Twitch. On the other hand, YouTube is filled with DIY content on extremely obscure topics.

There is a reason why YouTube is the ‘second’ biggest search engine worldwide. YouTube tries to help everyone – and it does so phenomenally well.

From journalists and chess masters to sports players and carpenters – every niche calls YouTube its home.

Both YouTube and Twitch have a high number of gaming streamers. However, Twitch has tailored the platform toward gamers more effectively.

YouTube vs. Twitch: The Verdict

Both YouTube and Twitch connect streamers with viewers every day.

They both allow brands to reach new users by piggybacking off the influence of streamers. Optimizing your presence on both platforms is a recipe for success. Twitch focuses more on gaming channels, while YouTube welcomes all content creators. This is why we recommend creating your presence to maximize visibility.

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