Choosing where to Stream

One of the first decisions one needs to make when deciding to be a streamer is choosing the best platform for your content. There’s a long list of streaming platforms, each offering different options so it’s important to consider what you hope to achieve as a Content Creator and what platform can help you accomplish those goals.

This article is going to look at some of the most prominent streaming sites and what they have to offer. There are several benefits to each one, so while trying to decide what platform to use, remember: it’s not necessarily what platform is the best, but what platform is the best for you.

The current top platforms in the industry are Twitch, YouTube Gaming, Mixer, and Facebook Gaming – with Twitch still firmly in the lead, but YouTube having a substantial chunk of the market and Facebook & Mixer slowly gaining more and more viewers. 

Mixer and Facebook Gaming both gradually increased their market share by investing in growth all year long prior to their headline-making talent grabs from Twitch, such as Mixer nabbing Ninja, Shroud, Ewok, and Gothalion, while Facebook Gaming picked up DisguisedToast, ZeRo, NexxuzHD, and Lolito FDEZ. These moves might not have moved the needle in the short term, but are expected to have a bigger impact in the years to come.

Twitch made some moves of their own, such as taking Nick Eh 30 from YouTube and locking in DrLupo, TimTheTatman, and LIRIK with extended contracts. Not to be left out of the fun, YouTube swiped CourageJD and Lachlan from Twitch.

Twitch

As the dominant platform in the industry – Twitch is the undisputed champion of live streaming platforms, with more daily streamers and more content produced than any other platform. Owned and backed by Amazon, with over 26 million hours watched daily, 300 thousand viewers on average per day and 450 thousand  average daily streams – there is no shortage of viewers to watch your channel. However there is also a huge amount of competition and you should choose very carefully what type of stream you decide on making. 

Pro’s: 

  • More potential viewers on Twitch – With more people watching on Twitch than the other platforms, you have a much higher ceiling when it comes to average viewership. 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.
  • Good monetization options – With Twitch offering ad revenue, viewer subscription revenue, affiliate commissions, and donations there are lots of different options for monetizing your stream.
  • Better User Experience – Twitch allows and encourages third-party developers to create plugins called extensions for streamers that enhance the viewer/streaming experience. As well as having great chatbots that will enhance your stream and make it a smoother experience.

Con’s: 

  • The Competition on Twitch is very very high and studies show that the majority (almost 75%) of Twitch’s viewership still comes from people tuning in to the top 5,000 channels. Out of the 2.7 billion hours watched in the second quarter, these top channels drove 75% (2 billion hours!) of those hours watched.
  • Less organic discoverability – Trying to get found on Twitch is incredibly hard and unless you are one of the top streamers in your category, the chances of a random viewer stumbling upon your stream is very very low.
  • No ultra-low latency – unlike Mixer or YouTube, Twitch has no ultra-low latency option which means that there will always be some lag between when you see your fans messages, respond to them and they hear your response. 
  • 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.

YouTube Gaming

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. Owned and backed by Google, with over 7 million hours watched daily – there is a huge potential here as well as incredible integration options with your YouTube channel if you already have one. 

Pro’s: 

  • Unbeatable search engine and discoverability – 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. YouTube also has a range of built-in features to help promote your broadcasts before, during and after you go live, making it really useful if you have an already established following on the site.
  • Solid & easy to understand and follow guidelines – has some really concrete guidelines with the do’s and don’ts 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.
  • 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.

Con’s: 

  • Not great branding for streamers – Preference is just that. Preference. While YouTube is definitely a big competitor, it’s still nowhere near as big as Twitch and 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.
  • Community experience is lacking – the acceptance of third-party applications on YouTube has never been easy and this means that customizing and adding to your stream experience will be much harder then it will be on Twitch or on Mixer. 

Mixer

Being a part of the Microsoft family gives Mixer some big advantages almost by default. It comes packaged into the world’s leading operating system, Windows 10. It also has native integration with Xbox consoles. With the backing from a huge corporation like Microsoft, Mixer is making big moves to become one of the biggest names in the live streaming space – with over 900 million hours watched daily! 

Pro’s: 

  • Good monetization – Mixer comes in pretty strongly with a similar subscription service, 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.
  • Concrete guidelines easy to follow – 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. 
  • Mixer’s faster-than-light (FTL) streaming protocol is one of the best things happening in the world of streaming today. Usually, there would be a delay between a viewer sending the streamer a message, the streamer receiving it, replying to it on-air, and the viewer seeing the reply. Mixer’s FTL protocol makes it almost like there’s no delay.

Con’s: 

  • Majority console-based audience – Because Mixer is 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.
  • A very small viewer base – When it comes to the numbers, Mixer has the least amount of traffic of the amongst the major platforms. Which means that it’ll be much harder to make it big and build a large community and have a lot of followers and fans. 

Facebook Gaming

One of the reasons Facebook is a great place to start streaming is the sheer size of its user base. With over 2 billion users across the globe, Facebook boasts a massive audience ready to see your stream on their news feed. But where you can really benefit isn’t the network as a whole but the personal network you’ve already built.

Pro’s: 

  • HUGE potential audience – which over 100 million active users that participate in more than 340,000 gaming-dedicated groups on the social media network alone – that huge audience, combined with the nature of Facebook’s platform, can be an asset for streamers looking to start their careers in live streaming.
  • Potentially higher monetization – the audience on Facebook usually has higher income and has a different demographic (mid-20’s to early 30’s – rather than Twitch’s 18-34), which leads to them having more disposable income rather than relying on Twitch Prime subs as the primary source of income. 
  • Healthier and less “toxic” communityPart of the reason Facebook seems to be cultivating a more generous community for its streamers is because people tend to use their real identities on the platform and that in turn makes the community healthier.

Con’s: 

  • Strict monetization requirements – the only way to monetize your stream on Facebook is by joining the Level Up program or by being invited to the Partnership program. And while that may initially seem easy, it’s unclear how one does that and what the requirements are for it as Facebook chooses who joins rather than having a “pathway” that one can journey through. 
  • No extensions available for Facebook – the acceptance of third-party applications on Facebook is nonexistent and this means that customizing and adding to your stream experience will be much harder then it will be on Twitch or on Mixer. 

Picking the right platform to launch your stream on could be a difficult decision to make. While there are other platforms out there – such as Nimo.tv, DLive, Caffeine and Periscope (just to name a few), I don’t believe they are worth trying out. The best advice I can give you is to just start anywhere, you can always move later, just begin taking action today. And just in case you didn’t have the patience to read through it all, here’s a very short tl;dr of what I talked about: 

  • Most people are well aware that Twitch has a much bigger audience than anywhere else. As it stands people as viewers, much prefer to visit Twitch to find live content so choosing to stream there guarantees you the biggest potential- however it’s also the hardest platform in which to succeed because of the massive amount of competition.
  • With a YouTube profile that features streams and pre-recorded video clips, you can offer a variety of video content, giving your viewers plenty to watch while you’re not on stream and giving you another avenue to bringing in subscribers – giving you the best chance for organic growth and unmatched discoverability. 
  • 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.
  • Finally – 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.

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