Tips
Dec 7, 2021

Twitch vs. YouTube streaming: Which is best for you?

The line between Twitch and YouTube use cases are becoming increasingly blurred. A few years ago, Twitch used to be the go-to for live streamers while YouTube was (and is) the hub for on-demand content.
Jessica Li
Chief of Staff

Now, with the launch of YouTube Gaming and live streaming features, YouTube's making its way into the live streaming world. They even snapped up two massive live streamers off Twitch, Tim "TimTheTatman" Betar and Ben "DrLupo" Lupo.

But, Twitch still holds the lion's share of live streams. We can expect them to make new changes in response to YouTube's ventures.

So which platform is best for you? 

The differences between Twitch and YouTube for streaming


Twitch holds its own as the platform with the most live streams, while YouTube is a massive search engine with over 2 billion users.

Here are the key differences between the two streaming services: 

Browsing & discoverability 

Twitch is a live streaming platform or a content management system. YouTube, on the other hand, is many things - it's an online video sharing platform that almost doubles as social media. 

But, more importantly, Youtube is also a search engine. That means new creators have a better shot at getting discovered. On YouTube, new streamers can reach their target audience through keywords and recommendations, among other means.

Browsing is drastically different on Twitch. Channels are sorted by viewer count, so established content creators remain prominent, and new ones are buried underneath. The Amazon streaming platform doesn't have an algorithm to help new creators get discovered. 

So if you're new to streaming, breaking into Twitch isn't easy. If you have an existing fanbase on another platform, though, then you can cross-market to build your channel.

Streaming rules & terms of service

YouTube and Twitch both have extensive rules regarding video content, but Twitch is generally stricter in enforcing its policies. The platform is known to ban creators (albeit not permanently) without warning, and without providing clear reasoning.

YouTube's more lenient in this regard - while they have content policies, they aren't as strict in enforcement. Plus, YouTube has a "three-strikes" system, so you don't need to worry about unexpectedly getting hit by the banhammer.

Potential for growth

When it comes to growing a following from scratch, YouTube takes the lead because of its SEO and algorithm that promotes quality content. New creators can increase their visibility on YouTube by creating specific, helpful content. 

Then, as viewers browse, discover, and watch your videos, the YouTube algorithm will pick up on their relevance and promote your videos.

On the other hand, Twitch ranks channels solely based on existing subscribers. So larger channels hold their stake, and there's a significant entry barrier for new creators.

How Twitch Pays Streamers

Twitch pays streamers in different ways, and the platform takes percentage cuts on various monetization features. Here's a quick rundown of Twitch payouts work:

  • For running ads, Twitch creators get paid between $0.25-$2 per 1000 views. Twitch takes their cut directly from the sponsor, so the payout we just quoted is yours to keep.
  • Bits. Twitch technically takes only 21% of these mini donations, but the payment structure isn't that simple. Fans have to pay premiums to purchase bits, so Twitch keeps that revenue too.
  • Twitch splits subscription payouts 50/50 from affiliates, and the platform takes less of a cut from Twitch Partners.

Many creators use direct donations (like via PayPal) and sell merchandise as monetization options since Twitch doesn't take a cut from these. 

How YouTube Pays Creators

YouTube pays creators through:

  • Ads. They pay a lot more than Twitch in general - around $3-$5 per 1000 views. As with Twitch, your channel needs to reach a certain threshold before you can run YouTube ads.  
  • Memberships. This is equivalent to Twitch's subscribers. YouTube keeps 30% of the membership subscription, but creators have to be enrolled in the Youtube Partner program and have a minimum of 30,000 subs to launch memberships. For gaming channels, you only need 1000 subscribers.
  • Super Chat, which is YouTube's donation system. They keep 30% of the donations. 

YouTube vs Twitch Monetization

Both YouTube and Twitch provide creators with monetization features, but Twitch takes the lead in variety. Let's see what each platform has to offer.

How you make money on Twitch 

Twitch offers creators plenty of monetization features, but some of them are exclusive to the Affiliate and Partner programs. On the whole, though, Twitch offers creators more options to monetize than YouTube.

Sponsored Advertising

Twitch's native monetization features, like inline ads or subscriptions, require creators to split their revenue with Twitch. On the other hand, landing sponsorship deals with companies lets you pocket all of the revenue, making sponsored advertising an attractive opportunity.

You'll need to establish a solid fanbase and have good engagement metrics to land sponsorship deals. Brands look to partner with creators with relevant audiences, to help drive sales or increase brand awareness. 

Inline Ads

Video ads are exclusive to the Twitch Affiliate program and Partner program. As a partner, you can choose to run ads in your streams and even pick the duration (between 30 to 3 minutes). You'll get paid per 1000 views, and the amount depends on different factors like the time of year (for example, revenue increases during the holiday season).

Twitch splits the ad revenue with creators, but you can expect to make around $1-$2 per 1000 views. However, the payout can be as low as $0.25 per 1000 views too. 

Donations

Twitch Partners and affiliates can earn revenue from 'bits,' which are effectively mini-donations. Fans can purchase bits to unlock special perks like buying emotes or participating in a particular Twitch chat. 

Alternatively, some creators use third parties like Patreon to collect donations, or simply share their PayPal/stripe details to receive direct donations. Collecting donations directly might help you earn more, but you'd need to offer fans exclusive perks as incentives.

Paid Subscriptions

Twitch affiliates and partners have the option to introduce channel subscriptions, providing a recurring revenue stream. You can choose from charging members $4.99, $9.99, or $24.99 per monthly subscription.

Unfortunately, you won't keep all of the revenue. Twitch splits it 50/50 with creators, but more established Twitch streamers have negotiated better rates. So as your channel grows, you might be able to get a better split.

Affiliate Program

The requirements to become a Twitch affiliate are:

  • A minimum of 500 total broadcasting minutes
  • A minimum of 50 followers over the past month
  • 3 (or more) average concurrent viewers 
  • Seven unique broadcast days

After fulfilling these requirements, Twitch will notify you on your creator's dashboard and contact you via email to join the program. Affiliates get access to basic monetization options like channel subscriptions, bits, and earnings from video games sales. 

To unlock more monetization features and perks, you'll need to become a Twitch partner.

Sale of Products

Many top streamers create online stores (externally) and promote products to their fans. Since this strategy is external, you won't need to split the revenue with Twitch or meet any platform requirements.

Broadcast Recording

Twitch lets you record live streams and monetize the videos for additional income. You can earn direct revenue from the recorded broadcasts, or use them to promote your channel to new audiences - give viewers a flavor of what your live stream's content is like. 

How you make money on YouTube 

Here's how you can monetize your YouTube channel and make a recurring income. 

Direct Advertising in Videos

Direct advertising is when you create dedicated content to promote a company's product or service, independent of YouTube's advertising features. So, for example, a brand might approach you to create a promotional video for their new product launch and share it with your subscribers.

Google Adsense Contextual Advertising

You know those ads that pop up in the middle of your YouTube video? Well, they're Google Adsense ads, one of the most popular ways to make money on YouTube.

To access Adsense advertising, you need to join YouTube's Partner Program. YouTube keeps 45% of the ad revenue, and the rest goes to creators.

Partnership Programs 

YouTube's Partner program gives creators access to many monetization features; you're not limited to Adsense advertising. The monetization options that come with YT partnership include:

  • Channel memberships. Creators can use memberships to give super fans exclusive perks for a monthly subscription fee.
  • Merch shelf. Merch shelflets you showcase branded merchandise on your watch pages, so fans can browse and make purchases.
  • YouTube Premium Revenue. You can get a share of users' premium subscription fee if they watch your videos.
  • Super Chat & Super Stickers. Give your fan's messages special attention in exchange for a small fee.
  • Ad Revenue. The straightforward monetization feature that we're all familiar with.

Of course, the Partner program isn't open to everyone. You have to meet the program's minimum eligibility requirements, including a minimum of 1000 subscribers and 4000 watch hours (over the past 12 months), plus some technical details like a linked Google Adsense account.

Streams and Donations

Most creators are familiar with YouTube's Super Chat and Super Stickers feature, which you can use to monetize your YT Livestream (along with Ads). But YouTube recently launched a Super Thanks feature, letting streamers collect donations directly from the platform. No more relying on third-party applications or asking fans to 'buy me a coffee.'

The donation rates vary depending on the market, but in the US, fans can make donations of $2,$5,$10, or $50 at a time. As YouTube rolls out the Super Thanks feature to creators in more countries, we can expect it to pick up in popularity.

Selling Your Goods or Services

If you build up a following of loyal fans, there's plenty of room to sell goods and services. A great example is the Dude Perfect channel, which sells branded merchandise relevant to its niche. 

The Dude Perfect YT channel currently has around 56.9 million subscribers, and the creators produce comedic, sports-related content (like cool tricks and stunts). So, they sell sports goods like backpacks and performance tee shirts. 

Twitch vs YouTube: Which Platform Should You Stream On

It honestly depends. YouTube is generally kinder to fresh creators - the recommended videos algorithm increases your discoverability, and YouTube SEO helps your audience find you through key phrases. 

Another big difference between the two platforms is that Twitch requires you to live stream to grow your channel. Unless live streaming is your primary occupation, it can be difficult to find the time to keep going live. Plus, YouTube's on-demand content system means viewers can find you at any time of day, not just when you're streaming. 

Grow your following with Beacons

Building your following as a creator takes time, but you can speed things up by synchronizing your efforts across different platforms. That's where Beacons come in.

Beacons is an AI-powered mobile site builder for creators designed to help you drive cross-platform traffic. You can organize your most relevant content into one mobile page, like your best-recorded Twitch streams or your most-watched YouTube video clips.

Conclusion

Twitch and YouTube are both mature platforms with a lot to offer creators. While YouTube has more viewership, Twitch's audience is tailored to creator culture. But YouTube Gaming is changing that.

While it's good to start growing a following on one platform, you might eventually choose to use both YouTube and Twitch. And you can use Beacons to drive traffic across platforms to build your following quicker.
And hey, getting started with Beacons is free.

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