From Twitch to YouTube: A Comparison of Live Streaming Platforms

Let’s talk about the importance of live streaming platforms. This is strongly related to the global users of the internet, who have different needs and preferences. Someone who wants to use live streaming service for online support classes will choose the best platform for their needs. Similarly, developers of internet learning support will search for a suitable platform to create their own classes. Choosing the best platform is crucial because if we choose the wrong one, it will be useless as people won’t see what we want to show them. Gamers usually choose popular platforms for live streaming. Why? Because they want to get viewers for what they are doing and receive comments or criticism. They can also earn money from demos or by showcasing new games in their videos. This also applies to situations where someone wants to see live reports from other countries. They must select a platform with a good server that can be accessed at any time.

Live streaming service allows us to watch videos in real time from other users. This service requires high-speed internet access so that users do not have to wait a long time to watch short videos. Initially, live streaming service was commonly used by web developers to create webcam chats on websites, online learning classes, or for online support. However, nowadays, there are many uses for live streaming service. We can watch live news on television, watch someone playing a game, see live reports from situations in other countries, and much more. Because of this, internet users nowadays prefer live streaming services on the internet rather than on television, as we can access it on our mobile phones anywhere with good internet access.

Live streaming has become famous because more and more people rely heavily on the internet, especially for connecting with others, gaming, and sharing videos about their lifestyle. If you have ever accessed a website, you must be familiar with live streaming services, even if you have only heard about them. Many websites and platforms offer live streaming services, such as, YouTube,, Deezer, and many more.

Definition of live streaming service

A live streaming platform is another media platform that allows live streamers to broadcast their content to viewers and viewers to search for content that they would like to watch. It is an environment for the streamers and viewers to interact. Many streamers show content that is both entertaining and teaching while completing an activity, an example being a chess master showing off his skills while playing a game. Viewers use live streaming platforms as an alternative to TV. In fact, many don’t watch TV at all and use live streaming as their primary source of media entertainment. This is especially true with the younger audience who watch popular online personalities.

Live video has become popular in many recent applications. As technology has improved, this has led to an increase in live streaming platforms. The media platform is used to present information for entertainment. The information could be in the form of video or audio. Live streaming differs slightly from other media in that it is a simulcast. It’s transmitted and received at the same time. This is essential for online lectures or watching a live event. For the purpose of this article, a live streaming service is one that offers a platform that allows one to create a personal channel and broadcast a live feed that can be viewed by others. Viewers can watch the broadcast for free or can pay to become a premium member, which usually includes a few added perks. The viewer has the option to communicate with the broadcaster via chat. Live streaming services often have forums and chat communities, so this article will also include that as part of the service. At the moment, there are two major streaming platforms: Twitch, which has dominated as the primary choice for streamers, and YouTube, which only recently has tried to project itself as a competitor.

Importance of live streaming platforms

In the meantime, the importance of streaming video is that it channels to broadcast the live content that can be seen directly while an event is in progress. And among other streaming broadcasts, live streaming on video is a streaming that has the most important value and can be the future of streaming. The effectiveness of interacting with the audience, information delivery and sharing, and the impression that the value of the video has for the creator is the main reason why live streaming can have the most important value of streaming in the future.

In the internet, the information about streaming above is the new form of information sharing and it can be accessed by another person by the internet. Streaming can be everything from audio, video, and even games. Streaming is more effective than downloading files because with streaming, we can open and run the information that does not have to be downloaded first.

Features and Functionality

YouTube’s live streaming service is supported by a variety of applications. YouTube users can live stream on the go or from their living room using YouTube Gaming on their mobile phone or a capture card device. The on-screen setup is quite simple, all you have to do is make sure you have the proper equipment and setup, create a live event, get your stream key, and set up your encoder. Encoder setup can range from using an online software, downloading software, or using a hardware encoder. Broadcasting consoles such as the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 have built-in live streaming, so the setup is just a few clicks. This can make the YouTube streaming more favorable for people who are unfamiliar with streaming or have limited knowledge of computer hardware. YouTube live events offer features that they are simple to use and that you can learn more to try and create a live stream using live events beta. However, these events seem quite unclear and are obviously still in development.

While there are numerous ways to compare Twitch and YouTube, one of the most important is the functionality of the sites. Global research shows that the user interface and navigation buttons on YouTube are more consistent and the videos load faster than on Twitch. Many Twitch users have reported that the only reason they do not frequent YouTube more often is the fact that it simply does not cater to live video streams. YouTube’s user interface is consistent across the entire site, making it easier to navigate. The home page displays a variety of videos that are catered to the specific user based on watch history. At the top of the page, there are various tabs such as trending, subscriptions, history, and a user’s own channel, which can be set to automatically display subscriptions allowing for easy access.

User interface and navigation

Both services feature an extensive use of SEO and allow streamers to tag their content in order to make it easily searchable on the internet. YouTube offers a wider range of tools for SEO and social media interaction. This can make it easier for YouTube content to be found off the service. Twitch allows you to find specific content easily with its use of categories and has good integration with Twitter for sharing content.

YouTube, on the other hand, is slightly more complicated to navigate. The homepage features a lot of videos that are recommended for you. This makes it hard to find specific content or channels, especially for first-time users of the service. There is a navigation bar on the side featuring different types of content and the channels that you are subscribed to. This does make it easy to navigate to your favorite content, but you may have a hard time finding new content if you don’t subscribe to many channels.

The user interface and navigation of live streaming platforms are important as they determine how easy the service is to use and how fast it is to find what you are looking for. Twitch uses a very simplistic design and is easy to navigate. The homepage features a navigation bar at the top of the screen to browse games, channels, and communities. This makes it incredibly easy to find the content that you are looking for. There is also a featured games and channels tab underneath the navigation bar, which is updated frequently and makes it easy to find what is popular at the current time.

Chat and interaction options

Whispers, a private message system usable anywhere including the app and web player, was also added. These whispers are tied to the unique name of the recipient and a URL to the specific message for the browser.

Announced at Twitchcon 2015, Cheering is a system of cheering bits which are a virtual good bought with real money that can be spent in varying sizes in chat. When bits are used in chat, the user and their message are adorned with animated emotes called cheermotes. The streamer gets $0.01 USD for every bit cheered.

On Twitch, in their home stream, interaction largely takes place in the chat system, which supports the sharing of rich media such as emotes, links, and xDML commands. The chat is an integral part of the Twitch experience as it allows users to interact with the streamer and other viewers in context with the stream. Additionally, chat interaction can be polled and extracted to make infographics, word clouds, and other contests and games using 3rd party poll systems or browser addons.

Content creation and customization

YouTube channels are much more personal. While the streamers do not have live viewers, the channel itself is actually the homepage of the user’s uploaded videos and is what most users will see. For this reason, many YouTubers have taken a large amount of time to personalize their channel. YouTube offers a wide range of customization for channels including video and image uploads for the channel avatar and background/banner. The channel owner can also choose to display favorite or featured videos on the channel’s homepage as well as a description about themselves and what the channel is about. With the implementation of live streaming, these same features are applied to the stream’s page with the above-the-player section being the main space for customization.

On Twitch, the channels themselves provide a relatively small space for streamers to personalize. The home page offers the main portion of space due to the large video player and navigation bar. Below the player, there is a small section with basic information about the channel, written by the owner. There are also tabs to view the channel’s profile, current stream viewers, past broadcasts, and a special section for those that are subscribed to the channel. Overall, the channel space is very limited and many users never view it due to the direct link to the streaming page. Due to this, many streamers only give basic information about the channel and do not take any time to personalize.

Audience and Community

YouTube Gaming’s recent “sponsoring” addition and Twitch’s DSP feature allow viewers to directly support streamers by providing small monthly payments. This is essentially a rebranded version of YouTube’s addition of paid subscriptions for specific channels, but the best form of payment for a viewer is still an effective advertising impression. Ad revenue does vary largely depending on the specific ad used and the country it is shown in, but generally YouTube’s larger advertising base and the ease of knowledge that a single viewer is a single ad impression is more effectively monetized than on Twitch.

Both services provide a wide array of tools for analysis and the data used to give a comprehensive look at a target audience. But YouTube Gaming is working off a larger pool of data being the general YouTube site itself, and for this reason, it is more capable of directing gaming content at the appropriate parties by using filtered searches, SEO improvements, and better targeting of recommended videos. Twitch’s recent expansions in analytical tools are an attempt to also achieve this in the same ways, but it’s more difficult to create these tools if only focused on gaming content and only for a specific gaming enthusiast crowd. This is most shown through the capabilities of how content can be organized.

EEDAR’s Geoff Zatkin mentions the challenge Twitch faces in bringing a more diverse crowd of viewers to gaming content. EEDAR has done research that indicates only 30% of Twitch users are what is considered “casual gamers”, whereas there are more “core” and “hardcore” gamers. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing for Twitch, as it deeply roots the more dedicated gaming crowds to gaming-related content. But the more casual gamers are perhaps a group of consumers more likely and more profitable to reach, and this is something YouTube Gaming has more potential to do. YouTube’s base of content reaches a wide audience of viewers, and a gaming live stream is simply another form of content that could draw in someone who is already an existing YouTube user.

User demographics and reach YouTube Gaming has a significant advantage in terms of brand association and easy accessibility. The likelihood that someone is watching a game trailer or funny video on their phone or on the regular YouTube site and will stumble into gaming-related content is fairly high. In comparison, Twitch may be seen as more isolated to a specific gaming enthusiast community and less likely stumbled into by a casual browser.

Twin Galaxies has posted an article written by Geoff Robinson explaining why he thinks Twitch streaming is a better option than using YouTube Gaming. His thoughts reflect the competitive nature of the market Twitch has created for itself in comparison to YouTube Live. This article was published in 2015, and is interesting to reflect back on given changes that have been made to YouTube’s platform since then. But we’re getting off topic, below we will explore the direct comparison between the current state of these two platforms.

As mentioned earlier, both Twitch and YouTube Gaming support live streaming content, but Twitch specifically supports live streaming and is perhaps more uniquely designed around that flow of content. Live streaming is still a significant piece of YouTube’s strategy, but Twitch and YouTube Gaming are often compared because of the direct competition between the two in this field. Live streaming isn’t a new concept for YouTube, but the idea of having a separate site or app built specifically for game streaming is. YouTube had tried to enter this market before, but it didn’t have much success and the feature was often talked about as being abandoned.

User demographics and reach

This section explores the type of user that uses each platform and just how far each platform can reach the respective user. For example, YouTube is often used to watch videos on various things from tutorials, DIY videos, and “How to” guides. These users may never cross over to the gaming side of YouTube, whereas it may be their sole reason for using the Twitch platform. This results in a YouTuber who exclusively streams his content would be more successful in doing so on Twitch compared to YouTube. YouTube gaming is still in its early days and does not have nearly as much of the gaming community experienced on the Twitch platform. This is supported by the fact that there are generally more users online at any given time on Twitch compared to YouTube, but the specific numbers cannot be confirmed. YouTube gaming only appears to have users when a popular streamer is doing a live event or a new game is released. The remaining users will be a minority of people who stumbled across the gaming section of the website while trying to find something unrelated.

Community engagement and moderation

Both platforms center on the idea of community and its cultivation: all engagement leads to the goal of strengthening the unique culture that resides on each. Community engagement occurs on three levels: broadcaster-viewer, viewer-viewer, and broadcaster-broadcaster. It was observed that communication between broadcasters was more prevalent on Twitch as a result of the autohost feature and presence of raids. On the other hand, YouTube promotes viewer retention by helping all users build their brand rather than having users aid others on a platform that may not benefit them. Features like live cards, schedule banners, and custom URLs help users interact in a way that will result in the most personal gain. While Twitch is more straightforward in that it promotes communication for immediate communal growth, YouTube caters to the individual who is uncertain of how to positively contribute to their desired community. Viewer-viewer interaction on Twitch more often than not leads to the creation of inside jokes, memes, and fan culture, while YouTube has potential to develop a sense of camaraderie via offstream activity like video comments, suggested community posts, and hyping a stream with a video trailer. The implications here are that Twitch should make it easier for users to support other users with the intention of creating lasting friendship and camaraderie and that YouTube should present clearer course of action for development of community culture. Both platforms have similar means of helping a viewer connect with a broadcast such as email notifications or subfeed activity, but in said email notifications Twitch has the option to include a custom message or call to action that may make the notification feel more personal. These subtleties in communication may have an impact on the weight of viewer engagement on either platform. A pinned topic on the Twitch subreddit from the beginning of the year discussed the notion of discouraged users who never got into streaming because they do not know how to properly catch an audience. This demonstrates that the gap between user engagement and broadcast engagement is often closing in on one point in either platform, that being the most viable road to community growth, and that there are users on each platform that could benefit from features of the other.

Monetization opportunities

When you compare it to the Twitch Affiliate program, the requirements are a great deal above that competitor. To be eligible into the Affiliate program, a streamer needs to have at least an aggregate of 500 minutes broadcast in the last 30 days and a complete of at least 7 unique broadcast days during the 30 day period. Additionally, the streamer needs to have an average of 3 concurrent visitors or more. The benefits of becoming a Twitch Affiliate consist of bit emote and cheermote monetization and the option of paid subscriptions from viewers. This is a system very much designed for the mid-tier streamer and even with its high requirements, it still is not as profitable as YouTube monetization unless a streamer is able to make it to the ranks of a Twitch partner.

The most crucial difference between the monetization structures of YouTube and Twitch is that YouTube necessitates your channel to become monetized before you can begin making cash from your videos, while Twitch needs you to be approved into the Partner or Affiliate programs. YouTube’s Partner Program is one of the crucial revenue streams for a lot of YouTubers. The program was originally designed as a method for YouTube to filter out spammers and different types of nefarious content, wanting to farm ad revenue. Nowadays the Partner Program is a standing image showing that your channel is the genuine deal. Partner Program status grants you access to a lot of monetization options including ad revenue, channel memberships, merch shelf and Super Chat.

Performance and Reliability

Servers and CDNs both need scalability. Scalability in server infrastructure is the ability to handle increasing loads of work and adding resources to the system in a linear and logical manner. Twitch, when talking about server scalability, has had both positive and negative experiences. In the past, Twitch’s servers were lacking against the increasing demand of live streaming, and at times, streams would often be met with site downtime or degraded service. Twitch has since resolved these issues, claiming better server resources and a seemingly improved quality service to viewers. YouTube is a component of Google’s infrastructure and has a formidable infrastructure and tech platform. Being a long-time tech company, Google’s servers and scalability are among some of the best in terms of just about any service online, and this is no different when speaking about YouTube. This is a service that for a beginning YouTuber is going to be very reliable, but large events and large-scale streaming would see similar costs for server resources from going with YouTube over Twitch.

Performance and quality do not stop at video quality and stability, as unseen by viewers there exist many other variables that affect how a service operates. A notable factor would be the way in which their CDN or content delivery network is deployed. A CDN is a system of distributed servers that deliver web content to the user based on the user’s proximity to the server. The idea behind a CDN is to deliver a high-quality and quick service to users by serving them content from a server that is geographically close to them, and by doing so, CDNs can also save on costs of bandwidth. Both Twitch and YouTube have their own server infrastructure and are different from each other in terms of how they are deployed, but both are effective in serving and reliable global service.

There are many important variables that go into making a live streaming platform dependable and high quality. Given the live nature and customer expectations of live content, ensuring that the video quality and the service is stable are monumental to having a streaming platform. Twitch and YouTube rank fairly similarly in terms of reliability as the two have fairly stable service and good video quality. YouTube may have an edge in performance, as they provide users the ability to stream in 4k resolution while Twitch only allows for a maximum of 1080p, although for some 4k resolution is still not available. YouTube’s on-demand feature set, while beneficial to viewers, may detract from the overall reliability of live streaming if specific system resources are prioritized toward the on-demand video.

Streaming quality and stability

The above section only considers the streaming quality and stability of the two platforms. The reasons for this are that it is a key factor when considering which platform to use and it is also one of the main differences between the two. Twitch utilizes a WinPcap plugin to allow users to select the server that you are using manually, however, this is often a confusing feature as many users don’t understand the differences between the servers and the plugin itself can cause problems with the stream. Once this is set up, Twitch has optimal streaming quality often up to 1080p and rarely has problems with stream stability. YouTube streaming quality is good if a partnered channel is using it, although often restricted by Google to around 720p for non-YouTube gaming channels. The main disadvantage for YouTube is the stability; as the platform is relatively new, the servers do not seem to be as stable as Twitch’s. Over the last couple of months, Google servers have caused many problems for streamers using the platform, including buffering issues, delay on the chat, and issues with dropped frames in-game; overall not an enjoyable experience for viewers or streamers. YouTube has acknowledged these problems and plans to work on stability in the future. It will be interesting to see them develop on this.

Server infrastructure and scalability

When there are no issues occurring, both platforms perform well with low latency and high uptime. Twitch has a slight edge in latency over the average YouTube live stream, with a delay of around 10-20 seconds compared to YouTube’s 10-30. When an issue does arise, the delay between problem occurrence and time to resolution may be longer for Twitch due to its time-consuming use of server queues and launches. With increased scalability and redundancy, resolution of issues on YouTube may be quicker in most cases.

Twitch’s method of scaling its server infrastructure may involve too much delay to deal with sudden large changes in load, and viewers may suffer slowdown or outages on their end should there be an issue with a new server launch. YouTube’s elastic infrastructure and widespread server availability make it more adaptable and responsive to changes in load. However, YouTube’s system is not infallible, and changes to infrastructure or network paths may disrupt viewers’ ability to watch or make VODs temporarily unavailable, a problem that has been observed by some subscribers during recent testing of live streaming.

Twitch uses a global Content Delivery Network (CDN) to deliver stream data to its viewers and scales its server infrastructure in response to load using a combination of real-time and a batch queue of new server launches. “Ingest” servers, the entry point into its network where broadcasters send their data, are spread across the globe in 25 locations (as of 2017), with each location containing at least 2 available servers at any given time. YouTube automatically scales up and down its server infrastructure in response to detected load, and stream data is sent to and from its servers using the nearest practical network path. YouTube has more than 100 “Ingest” locations across the globe, each containing a large number of servers.

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