Can Twitch Compete with YouTube?

With Twitch recently announcing a service for premade videos, Callum Costello speculates what this might mean for the future of video streaming.

Callum Costello
12th February 2018
Images: Wikimedia Commons

Social media platforms are much like Tinder relationships (swipe left if the analogy is incomprehensible). There’s loads of pretty looking stuff and the closer we look the lower our self respect plummets, yet we always hold hope for a marriage made in heaven. If we’re lucky enough to find one we actually like, we engage with it a while before it kind of peters out into nothingness.

Most often social media platforms are for talent exhibition and communication, which is then soured by a lack of quality and abuse. The question of why we use them at all is answerable through the response; ‘it’s just what you do isn’t it?’ - a sort of 21st Century first world problem (similar to owning an iPhone or eating Nutella - you know it’s wrong but life’s complicated enough). We use them until it’s time to give them up before starting the cycle anew. It may seem like cynicism but before we can analyse the significance of Twitch’s move to compete with the titanic platform of YouTube we need to have a frank look at what the content on social platforms really looks like, and the truth is it’s mostly time killing junk.

Most often social media platforms are for talent exhibition, which is then soured by a lack of quality and abuse

In a mid-2017 conference call Netflix CEO Reed Hastings announced that the goal was to get the same volume of viewing per day as YouTube. Netflix subscribers go through one billion hours of content a week - YouTubers go through that each day. Twitch, a Tube-similar live streaming platform and Amazon subsidiary, currently have fifteen million users watching one hundred minutes daily - way short of YouTube numbers. What it does have though is a niche corner of the market in live video game streaming. As a January report by Tech Crunch revealed, in spite of a boom in popularity on the game streaming feature YouTube Live, Twitch currently dwarfs its competitor with more than three times the monthly active users - showing that, quote, “the money and the crowd are still at Twitch”. So with the news that Twitch are increasing original and on demand video content, can they transfer their monopoly on gaming over to video content also?

What Twitch does have is a nice corner of the market in live video game streaming

The truth is YouTube’s status as an online institution is closer to that of Google or FaceBook. The staggering number of users per day would require seismic investment to pose real competition - and this isn’t a new problem for Twitch, as they’ve been touted as a YouTube alternative for years. Niche content will retain their standing, but aggressive expansion will require huge investment. In the flaky world of social media and streaming platforms, sustaining the integrity of their product and combating abuse will prove more valuable in the long run than Twitch. Becoming the institution of video game streaming keeps Twitch alive which is far more desirable than becoming the next MySpace.

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