When it comes to the new era of streaming on the internet, there is one clear king right now, and that is the Amazon-owned Twitch.tv. Here you can find any content you like, with instant viewer interaction, watching alongside thousands of other people simultaneously.
However, as with every growing market, there are some competitors building up their own platforms to compete for market share. Most notably, Google-owned YouTube Live, and Microsoft-owned Mixer (previously ‘Beam’). There are some other smaller platforms that have their own unique quirks and perks however, you can find these later in the article.
Here is absolutely everything you need to know about the differences of streaming on Twitch, YouTube and Mixer.
Clash of the Titans: Twitch vs YouTube
When it comes to Twitch vs YouTube, there is a lot of history between the two platforms. Twitch.tv was formerly known as Justin.tv (launched in October 2006) and transitioned into their new site in August 2014.
YouTube originally launched its Live streaming features in April 2011 but has gone through many changes without really picking up a lot of market share.
In March 2019 they decided to shut down their YouTube Gaming app, which was set up to rival Twitch, and consolidate all of the content onto the official YouTube website.
Audience & Growth
Most people are well aware that Twitch has a much bigger audience than YouTube Live. As it stands people as viewers, much prefer to visit Twitch to find live content than YouTube.
If you are looking to start streaming this could mean a couple of different things.
More potential viewers on Twitch – With more people watching on Twitch than YouTube Live, you have a much higher ceiling when it comes to average viewership. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you are guaranteed to get more viewers and here’s why.
More competition on Twitch – Not only are there more viewers, but there are also more content creators too. More eyeballs, but more places to look. This means if you want to be a hit on Twitch, you’ve got to being something worth watching.
Search with YouTube Algorithm – If you’re a content creator of any kind, you’ve heard of the YouTube algorithm. It often receives some bad reviews but just like Google itself, YouTube is a world-class leader in serving people what they want to see.
How does this help YouTube Live? Well, on Twitch there is little to no discoverability built-in to the platform. Viewers can struggle to find something they actually want to watch.
With YouTube already being a search engine, you are actually much more likely to be found if you’re doing something that people want to see. Growth can be easier to achieve on YouTube but currently, a similar success on Twitch could be much more lucrative.
YouTube has a range of built-in features to help promote your broadcasts before, during and after you go live, this makes it really useful if you have an already established following on the site.
When it comes to being a streamer or a viewer, it’s incredibly important that you have a good user experience. It is this experience that will give you the confidence to continue coming back to the platform and using everything it has to offer.
With Twitch being a much older service with many more users, it’s clear that Twitch has a better user experience in general.
Interface and Layout
While YouTube has the features that help new content creators get discovered they can also make a stream feel less personal. This is because there are so many things trying to lure a viewer away from what they’re currently watching.
Some people however much prefer YouTube for the familiar layout and that the video player allows you to seek backward on a Livestream by up to 12 hours.
YouTube also gives users the option to use Ultra Low Latency mode, making streams have close to under 1-second delay. This can really change the streaming dynamic and make a chat much more interactive with instant feedback.
Chatbots and Extensions
When it comes to chatbots, Twitch and YouTube are on a similar playing field, with all of the market leaders for streaming services now having chatbot services that work across the three major platforms.
The native chat moderation tools on Twitch are a little more extensive and fleshed out but with chatbot integration, moderation is easy on all platforms.
However, the acceptance of third-party applications on YouTube has never been easy and is why Twitch is winning with one of their latest innovations. Extensions.
Twitch allows and encourages third-party developers to create plugins for streamers that enhance the viewer/streaming experience.
An example of a plugin is one that can register where viewers click on their screen, allowing them to make choices for the streamer with instant feedback for the streamer. Other examples include eyeball trackers that show an outline of where the streamer is looking in real time, great for those fast-paced RTS and MOBA games!
There are many more extensions and plugins that give us leader board panels, interactive schedule panels, and even on-screen affiliate links. This lets us segway nicely into monetization.
Monetization & Subscriptions
Making money from streaming is something lots of people aspire to do. Streaming can be incredibly entertaining and rewarding for the creator and the viewers, so being paid to do it can make all the difference.
When it comes to which platform offers better monetization, they both do a similar job of offering ad revenue, viewer subscription revenue, affiliate commissions, and donations.
Twitch streamers can see much less revenue being made via ads than YouTube but will see the use of subscriptions and donations much more regularly.
Donations on YouTube are called ‘Superchats’ and on Twitch are called ‘cheers’ or ‘bits’. In essence, it is a special message sent to the chat room that gives a monetary value to the content creator.
YouTube will take a 30% cut of all superchats, whereas any Twitch bits will go straight to the streamer at a 1-1 ratio of 1 bit = $0.01. This doesn’t mean Twitch don’t take a cut, they just charge more than $1 for $1 worth of bits. Their cut ranges from 40% on a $1 bits package down to 19% on a $250 package
Guidelines & Rules
Rules, values, and guidelines can be a determining factor when you choose where you want to host your online content. You want somewhere that can respect your values and will have some clear-cut guidelines on what is acceptable and what is not. Heres where Twitch is failing miserably.
While the giants of the industry are creating one of the most advanced and user-friendly platforms, they’ve regularly dropped the ball with rules.
Twitch has some pretty vague and unclear guidelines that are difficult to understand. Especially when they are enforced in sporadic and often unjust conditions. While leaving other people free to continue unpunished for similar offenses. We’re looking at you Alinity.
YouTube on the other hand as some really concrete guidelines with do’s and dont’s that are pretty easy to understand. This should allow you to create content that will ensure your account is still safe for years to come.
You might be looking at this heading and thinking ‘what? Hardware?‘. This section might not be relevant right now but I think that it definitely could be soon.
Hardware is the key to the tech industry. Whoever owns the device controls the platforms on it. Google is one of the biggest companies in the world and Amazon is another. But Google owns Android, which is run on an estimated 75% of mobile devices, along with their own ranges of phones, tablets, and laptops. They’re also releasing Stadia, which could prove to be a big player in the gaming industry.
Currently, Amazon doesn’t have much in terms of hardware except for its Echo range and a small number of phones.
It’s not currently likely, but it could happen that Google makes changes to their hardware or operating systems. These could heavily encourage the use of their YouTube Live platform and puts limitations on others.
Not likely in the near future, but something to consider, especially if you’re interested in tech and business.
Preference is just that. Preference. While YouTube is definitely a big competitor, it’s still nowhere near as big as Twitch. But that doesn’t mean it won’t be.
YouTube is looking at this space very carefully and fully intends to grow larger, so if you’re looking for somewhere with an easier growth path I’d seriously consider the switch.
However, Twitch has become more than just a platform, it has also become a brand. In the same way that designer clothes are more desirable simply because of their position in the market. Twitch has become the Gucci of content creation.
If you’re looking to become one of the most known and loved content creators in the streaming world, Twitch is still the place to be.
How does Mixer compare?
Mixer is the new kid on the block. With large amounts of backing from a huge corporation like Microsoft, they’re making big moves to become one of the biggest names in the live streaming space. This includes the acquisition of Twitch’s’ biggest talent of 2019, Tyler ‘Ninja‘ Blevins.
Audience & Growth
When it comes to the numbers, Mixer has the least amount of traffic of the three. However, with less traffic comes less competition.
One of the major positives of Mixer is that it’s integrated into every Xbox as a first-party application. You can find streamers right in the dashboard, making for seamless user experience on consoles.
This does, however, mean that a lot of the viewers on the platform are console users, which could prove to be negative for returning users or a stable viewership.
As with Twitch, Mixer doesn’t have the backing of the world’s biggest search engine. On the other hand, they do have some fairly unique features for discoverability. Introducing, the Mixer HypeZone.
HypeZone is a feature built into Mixer than can determine how well a content creator is doing in their current game, such as getting close to a win in Fortnite or Apex Legends.
If a streamer consistently performs well, they may be given a spotlight in the Mixer HypeZone. This is a spotlight on the main page where new viewers will be watching people who enter, ready to see some action-pack high-octane gameplay.
With Mixer being designed with console in mind, it comes with an easy to navigate display, allowing you to find featured and partnered streamers, games you’d like to watch and more.
The video player screen is very nicely designed with clean styling and a dark theme by default. Controls are very easy to use and the default font is extremely easy to read. But user experience is something unique to each person, you’re going to need to take a look for yourself to see if you like it.
Bios on Mixer are a little different from those on Twitch or YouTube. Currently, they come with a great amount of potential customization that you might not be afforded on the other platforms.
Lots of streamers are opting for the familiar panel design but others are taking a more artistic approach. Creating new stylish descriptions that could be a fantastic opportunity for branding.
Monetization & Subscriptions
What’s the money like? YouTube and Twitch have a comparable monetization system so how does Mixer fair with theirs.
Well, Mixer comes in pretty strongly with a similar subscription service (costing $5.99/month), along with its internal currency called ‘Embers’. This is a very similar system to Twitch Bits and allows for people to show support to their favorite streamers via donation. (You can click this link to read more about Twitch Bits)
Mixer Embers are worth $1 per 100 Embers and Streamers earn also earn money from the previously mentioned sparks. But streamers need to be given a LARGE number of sparks before any meaningful amount of money is made.
There is little information available about revenue on Mixer as each partner that enters their program has to sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement. This means they can’t reveal any of the specifics. The general consensus, however, is that most partners make a 50/50 split with Mixer (after transaction fees).
Guidelines & Rules
Mixer actually has a really well laid out and easy to read set of guidelines. These guidelines include rules for streamers and viewers, laying out what is acceptable and what isn’t.
They have also included a section on clothing and mature content, to have an explicitly stated and consistent way of ruling what is mature and what isn’t. This is a great move to help combat streamers that promote streams that tow-the-line when it comes to sexual content.
Overall Mixer has nailed the guidelines and rules to make a very inclusive and fun community.
As the smallest of the major three, Mixer is able to play fast and loose with new features and innovative content. They have a very inclusive platform, easy to use interface, and above-average monetization.
Overall Mixer is a solid choice. You’re less likely to reach big numbers in the short-term but Mixer is betting on growing. Getting in at the ground level could be a great way to establish an audience while they’re looking for people to fill the gaps.
The Top 3 At A Glance
For some people, a large wall of text just doesn’t cut it. So here is a breakdown of the pros and cons of the major three, highlighting some of the key selling points and the areas that are lacking.
- Amazon-owned and backed
- The largest amount of viewers
- Most known streamers are here
- Great user experience
- Most interactive and social community
- Integrated 3rd party extensions
- Best-in-class emotes and customization
- Easy monetization and on-boarding
- Good revenue shares for affiliates and partners
- Actively developing and rolling out new features
- Brilliant branding
- More competition for growth
- Less organic discoverability
- No ultra-low latency
- Some payment fees are given to the viewer
- Lack of guideline clarity and enforcement
- Google-owned and backed
- Second largest streaming viewer base
- People already going to YouTube for video content
- Integration with existing YouTube channels
- Unbeatable search engine and discoverability
- Similar monetization process to competitors
- Familiar video player with backward seeking
- Solid easy to understand and follow guidelines
- More room for integration with hardware in the future
- Arguably easier for growth
- Ultra low latency mode
- Less well-known creators on YouTube Live
- Not great branding for streamers
- Community experience is lacking
- No 3rd party applications
- Slow and less transparent with rolling out changes
- Microsoft owned and backed
- Steadily growing audience numbers
- 1st party integration with Xbox
- Easy to use design and interface
- Similar/better monetization to competitors
- Inclusive and fun community
- Concrete guidelines easy to follow
- Ultra low latency mode
- Very innovative with fast testing and implementation
- Viewers gravity heavily to biggest streamers
- Majority console-based audience
- Smallest viewer base of the three
- Still lacks good discoverability
Other Alternatives To Twitch, YouTube & Mixer
Never heard of DLive? Well here is a project that has been developed and intertwined with the blockchain. Not sure what blockchain is? It’s the same technology behind bitcoin.
DLive is looking to bring an open and honest way of creating content that can be supported by the use of blockchain. They have their own digital currency called Lino and there are lots of features that revolve around this.
PewDiePie is the most well-known creator on the platform and he has chosen to stream their exclusively, raising DLives profile to new highs.
As a young competitor, only time will tell whether DLive is a strong and durable platform that can stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the titans or if it’s all just a bit of a gimmick.
Facebook Live / Gaming
Here we can find another one of the biggest tech companies in the world trying their hand in the streaming industry. Facebook, however, does have strong foundations, big money backing and one of the most visited websites in the world.
In its current form, Facebook Live / Gaming is kind of clunky. But they do have the infrastructure to make it massive. With some changes to how people first visit the platform, they could create a much more appealing homepage and system to use.
Integrate those changes with the Facebook Feed and even paid to advertise and you’ve got a recipe for HUGE success. In its current form, Facebook can’t compete but keep your eye on the ball as this could change soon.
Twitter got involved with live streaming back in 2015 with the acquisition of Periscope. Now Periscope is not your typical live streaming platform as seen with Twitch, YouTube or Mixer.
It still provides you with the ability to go live and share videos with people across the world, but it really isn’t intended for gaming or high production value.
Periscope is ideal for those who want to share a message to people with their phones in native vertical format. As it’s developed by Twitter you can also easily share when you go live with your followers and interact live with them.
Two smaller streaming platforms came together in 2017 to form a new and improved streaming website called Smashcast. Previously known as Azubu and Hitbox, smashcast is aimed primarily at the eSports and gaming scene.
It’s yet to make any big waves in the industry but is an alternative to the major platforms if you’re looking for something a little different.
Never heard of steam.tv? That’s probably because it’s never gotten off the ground. Steam accidentally launched this site back in August of 2018 and has yet to make any noticeable announcements surrounding its development. You can visit it now and be directed to a stagnant CS:GO page that isn’t used anymore.
However it does suggest that sometime in the future, Steam is looking to bring together it’s huge network of gamers to a new platform for streaming, events, and tournaments like The International. So keep your eyes open for any news surrounding it.
Picking the right platform to launch your stream on could be a difficult decision to make. The best advice I can give you is to just start anywhere, you can always move later, just begin taking action today.
Are YOU trying to grow your stream?
If you’re a streamer on Twitch, YouTube or Mixer and you’re looking to grow much bigger in 2021 then this article is a MUST READ. Whether you’re starting from zero or already established, the information here will make sure 2021 your best year yet!