Tuesday, 6 August 2013

I Guess This Is Where Youtube Wins

So after a number of announcements recently, it seems Google are finally starting to put more serious effort in competing in small scale live broadcasting. For a long time, I had no real idea how anyone actually got to the point where they could live broadcast on Youtube (other than being really big). They've finally set the bar at 100 subscribers though. As someone with 411 Youtube subs and 36 Twitch followers, you can probably see where this blog post is going.

If you've paid much attention to live video streaming on the internet recently, you'll have noticed the huge growth that industry has seen. Twitch.tv came from a simple 'Justin.tv does games' and turned into a large live streaming haven for gamers. Outside of gaming, you have websites like livestream.com and ustream.tv continue to exist as well. It's been a good couple years for live streaming and we're about to go into one of the biggest weekends for broadcasted gaming content in history.

So where was Youtube until now? Surely with such a, dare I say "booming industry", they could have been a large contender already. From what I've seen though, it's a matter of scale. Twitch might have a 200,000 or so people watching on a good day, but that's a drop in the bucket for Youtube. When I see something being streamed on Youtube, it's a Wimbledon or a guy jumping out of a large metal can from about 39km into the stratosphere. When you have millions watching a guy screaming while playing Happy Wheels, would you really care about a handful of people with mere thousands watching him live?

It seems Youtube did the smart move here; wait for live streaming to grow and focus on large scale events while building better tools and infrastructure. Twitch has become unstable recently, even to the point where 240p can lag. By comparison, watching Wimbledon on Youtube was a pleasure. The stream would auto adjust it's resolution when left on default and I could manually change it with a seamless transition. If there was lag, I don't remember it and the lack of thousands of people spamming chat icons wasn't missed.

I don't know what the catalyst for Youtube suddenly going after the smaller broadcasters is, but they seem in a good position to do it. Twitch might have some shinier features, but Youtube is stronger in a number of ways. The Twitch highlight and export system is a real headache when you're dealing with multiple accounts. Youtube has a superior interface with more options and gives you the ability to download the entire thing as a video file to edit yourself. Even the simple things like a centralized point of people seeing all of my content is a huge boon. Not to say Youtube is perfect, but if people can watch my content in high quality without issue, then there's only one real choice.

Depending on how things work out on the monetization side of things (such as the ability to run adverts), I see no reason to use Twitch when I plan to start streaming next month. I don't plan on putting any sponsor logos up when I stream, so Youtube's policy on that doesn't bother me. I also don't like the idea of going through the uncertainty of getting a Twitch partnership if my existing Youtube partnership does the same job. Why spend time building up something I could potentially make money from when I already have a more established platform?

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