YouTube acquiring Twitch: What Will It Mean for Game Streaming?

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We have heard YouTube is in the market for a streaming service and Twitch.TV looks to be the ideal candidate. The video game streaming Website has tons of user based content and around 45 million active users and a lively community, something YouTube wants to integrate into their own brand.

The real question is why does YouTube wants to associate themselves with Twitch.TV, what is about the service that YouTube cannot create themselves, what defining factor makes Twitch’s audience unique and hard to grab without natural growth?

Let’s Play Popularity

YouTube’s biggest brand of content is video games, mostly playthroughs of a popular game or a game played by a popular personality on YouTube. Some YouTubers make the case it is the person and not the game, considering indie horrors gain the most viewers, we are inclined to agree.

Why is it that the YouTube personalities that play games don’t also stream on YouTube? Some do, but are unsuccessful in grabbing a sizeable audience like they can get on YouTube. Twitch.TV is more about picking the right game to play and being good at it or being funny.

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On Twitch, the most watched title is League of Legends by a mile and the biggest personalities are on Team SoloMid, a professional eSports team in North America. Along with Riot Games and a few other streamers, they make up a core part of the viewers on Twitch at any one time.

There are other channels like Syndicate on CS: GO, nadeshot on Call of Duty, captainsparklez on Minecraft and other popular faces for smaller games, but eight of the ten biggest channels are running League of Legends gameplay.

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It is hard to crack that audience because Riot Games and streamers prefer Twitch to YouTube. The battle of sponsorship and ad revenue/subscription rate allows streamers to create a sizeable amount of money through Twitch, something they wouldn’t be able to do on any other service.

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Simply, Twitch offers the gaming audience size no other service can currently offer. Azubu is the closest competition in this regard, with teams like Counter Logic Gaming and Fnatic both signing contracts to stream on Azubu rather than Twitch, creating competition.

In order for YouTube to get into the core video game scene, they have to acquire Twitch, not only because it is far ahead of the next competitor, but because it has all the personalities, now all it needs are refinement in advertising, better subscription/donation models and a revamped interface to encourage discovery.

Meshing The Audiences

If the acquisition were to take place, YouTube would acquire Twitch for $1 billion and the streaming Website would be under their command. We are not sure on the break between YouTube and Google, but it appears YouTube is still treated as a private entity and can work on their own subsidiaries the way they want.

We might see better integration between the two platforms, instead of offering YouTube’s own streaming platform, game channels on YouTube might be able to stream directly to Twitch, then collect all of the video, download it, edit it and chunk it into pieces of content, to be put on the channel daily for a week.

This would allow big fans of the channel to watch the raw gameplay without cuts and will allow people without the time or membership to wait for the content to come out of the YouTube channel. This would mean Twitch VODs would become useless, considering the streamer is more likely to make more money on YouTube.

What this would mean is a change in what streamers are allowed to do on stream. Copyrighted music will be flagged instantly in a VOD, meaning Twitch streamers might have to rely more on their personality and voice and less on their Spotify playlist.

Certain games might be banned as well, currently only Nintendo is taking revenue from games, but this is not well enforced and Twitch has no real system to tackle streaming Nintendo games on their Website, but hardly anyone tries to stream those games anyway.

Changing Content

One thing we hope to see from the YouTube/Twitch acquisition is a change in content. Sure, League of Legends can be fun, but when some of the best streamers who play obscure games only get 10 viewers, it is a sad state of affairs, especially when content creators on LoL grab thousands simply through their name or team.

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YouTube has pushed discovery and small channels all the time and wants people to find different topics. Their chat and comment system might be one of the worst of all time, but Twitch chat isn’t great either, even if the emotes have become hilarious in the eyes of some users.

The ownership of YouTube might see a revamped UI, less on the focus of how many people are watching a certain channel at any one time and more about viewing new content, possibly with Steam integration to spot games the viewer enjoys and suggesting channels based of that data.

The End of Twitch

People who believe this is the end of Twitch.TV are wrong – the Website will continue to grow with or without YouTube’s ownership, but if the acquisition goes through there will be changes made to accommodate the new owners.

For some, this might be a bad thing, as they see Twitch a haven of good gameplay and less about editing and quick ten minute videos. All we know is YouTube will progress the service to a more casual based gaming audience, instead of the hardcore League of Legends/DoTA2 viewers currently on Twitch.

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