Whenever there is any kind of discussion around live streaming and gaming, Twitch is invariably mentioned within the first couple of seconds. The platform averages 15 million active users per day, with more than 3 million broadcasters providing livestreamed content that can sometimes rack up hundreds of millions of views.
Twitch is also an incredibly lucrative platform, racking up an estimated $600 million in ad revenue alone last year, triple the amount it earned in 2018. While the dominance of Twitch in the fast-growing gaming livestreaming industry seemed all but assured at the start of 2020, things have begun to shift rapidly.
A number of competitor platforms have arisen to challenge Twitch and become the new streaming platform de choix, chief among them YouTube Gaming. The rise of YG over the past year has been game-changing, but will it be able to take the top spot? Let’s dive in and find out.
YouTube Gaming’s main recipe for success thus-far has involved recreating some of the most popular livestreaming-platform features that users want and then tweaking them. While it has clearly copied some of its more popular elements from Twitch, YG has also taken some inspiration from another popular streaming format – online live casinos.
For example, YG allows for users to create posts within streams and for only players and subscribers to interact via chat. This is very similar to how live blackjack, poker, and roulette streams work at the most popular live casino online platforms, where players can interact with dealers and with each other via a closed chat.
YouTube also has some content offerings that Twitch does not provide – namely non-live content. While Twitch is 100% a livestreaming platform, YouTube Gaming also allows for users t0 upload pre-recorded content that viewers can engage with and comment on indefinitely. Whether this will give the platform a genuine competitive edge remains to be seen.
While YouTube has been carefully building a product that can genuinely outrival Twitch, this is not enough to lure users away. For this, YouTube Gaming has gone on the offensive and has begun orchestrating a series of high-profile poaches of Twitch’s most popular broadcasters.
Most notably, YG signed three of Twitch’s most-followed streamers last year; Rachell “Valkyrae” Hofstetter, Elliott “Muselk” Watkins and Lannan “LazarBeam” Eacott, who have more than 20 million subscribers between them.
Since then, YG has stepped up its poaching strategy, recently striking a deal with Activision Blizzard to secure exclusive streaming rights to all Call of Duty and Overwatch League eSports tournaments.
Given that Overwatch League specifically is the single most-viewed channel on Twitch, with more than 80 million hours of watch-time spent on it, it’s clear that this was a calculated move on behalf of YouTube Gaming.
This is an aggressive and competitive strategy for a platform already established in another area to take. It shows confidence, coupled with a clear acknowledgement of the importance of securing a considerable market share while that is still possible.
Although Twitch still holds the top spot in terms of absolute numbers and market share, the gap is closing fast. It’s clear that YouTube Gaming absolutely represents the single biggest threat to Twitch right now, and that it will more than likely claim the throne if it continues its so-far successful strategy.