What you need to know about these two streaming platforms
If you are looking to get into streaming games or live personal projects for an internet audience, two of the main options you have are Twitch and YouTube. Both offer the same basic functionality, but they have a few key differences that can affect what you choose. We’ve looked at some of the main features of both to help you decide.
- Focus on the game, but other categories are available.
- The only content on your channel is for streaming.
- Make money with bits, subscriptions, direct donations, and announcements.
- Free to use, but some features are locked behind “Affiliate” or “Partner” status.
- You can livestream (almost) anything you want.
- Exists alongside the content produced on your channel.
- Make money from “Super Chats” memberships and ads.
- Free to use; affects monetization.
Which platform you choose depends on your goals for streaming. If you are brand new to creating videos online, they are pretty much equal choices. But people who have already created a YouTube channel may be better off sticking to that platform to build on their existing audience instead of starting over from scratch.
Twitch and YouTube give you opportunities to make money from your feed. In most cases, these features involve sharing a cut with the platform provider. Twitch has a slight advantage by including direct donations, which allow users to keep more of the money their viewers throw their way.
Content creation: YouTube has more variety
- Your channel contains streams, clips and archived videos.
- Your channel may contain feeds and more product content.
If you’re not just interested in streaming, YouTube might be a better choice. In addition to placing recordings of your feeds on your channel, you can also include previously made and more polished videos to help bring even more people to your channel.
On Twitch, your audience is based on how interested people are in your feed. But on YouTube, you can build an audience from non-live content and potentially get more people to your feed when you do.
Discovery: YouTube is more streamer-friendly, and Twitch is more user-friendly
- Browse by game title or topic.
- Platform is mainly on the subject of the game.
- Ability to follow your favorite channels.
- Certain functionalities are locked behind the statuses “Partner” and “Affiliate”.
- Search results cover all kinds of content, live or otherwise.
- Channel subscribers can find your feed easily.
- Some features are locked behind the partner program.
If you’re a viewer looking for something to watch, Twitch is slightly easier to use. Visitors can browse by specific game titles and receive notifications when their favorite streamers are online. YouTube gives you an option to receive a notification when a livestream starts, but it requires going to the specific URL of the stream and clicking a button to get the alert.
On the streamer side, however, YouTube may have an advantage. Because Twitch has always been more gaming-oriented, it doesn’t quite have the structure put in place for other types of content. The service added general categories such as “Creative”, “Music”, and “IRL”, but these areas are less specific than the original, game title system. If you are not streaming a game, it may be more difficult for viewers to find your channel. YouTube surfers are used to having all kinds of content available, so the search feature will help you more there.
For basic users, Twitch archive streams for 14 days. If you don’t download the video within this time, the site deletes it. You can increase this grace period up to 60 days by gaining “Partner” status. Other premium features on Twitch include personalized emotes for chat, polls, and priority customer service.
On YouTube, your livestream recording goes straight to your channel once you stop broadcasting, and it will stay there without you having to do anything. You need to join YouTube’s partner program to monetize your channel, but other than that all users have access to the same features.
Monetization: Twitch donations have a slight edge
- You can make money from ads, bits, direct donations, and subscriptions.
- Twitch takes a cut on most revenue.
- Monetization requires Affiliate or Partner status.
- Make money from Ads, Memberships, and Super Chats.
- YouTube takes a cut from most revenue.
- Monetization requires YouTube partner status.
To use official forms of monetization, including chat-based ads and rewards, your channel on either platform needs to reach a certain level of popularity. For example, to achieve Twitch Affiliate status, you need to have at least 50 subscribers and, in a single month, stream 500 minutes on at least seven different days while maintaining an average of three concurrent viewers. To achieve partner status, the requirements are even higher.
YouTube has one, equally important level: the YouTube Partner Program. To join, people must have watched at least 4,000 hours of your content in the past year, and you need 1,000 or more subscribers.
Either way, you need to hit these benchmarks to officially monetize your channel and use Ads, Twitch / YouTube Super Chats bits, and channel memberships to make money. But where Twitch comes out a bit ahead is its support for direct donations to viewer streamers. With this feature, people viewing your feed can send you money without you being an affiliate or partner.
Both platforms provide a quick and easy way to stream your games or creative activities, but YouTube has a few distinct advantages. It doesn’t lock as many features behind its partner program as Twitch behind its affiliate and partner tiers. It also allows you to include standalone and produced content to complement your channel’s shows.
Both have similar monetization systems, and neither of them makes them available to new broadcasters. But Twitch is significantly closing the gap by allowing direct donations.