Is Twitch still the best stream platform?

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By now you must have heard the big news about Twitch cutting creator revenue shares in 2023? If not, I’ll get you up to speed. On September 21, 2022, Twitch posted (in the dead of night by the way) that it would be sunsetting enhanced creator revenue sharing for many of Twitch’s top creators by the Summer of 2023.

While most Twitch partners are on a 50% revenue sharing agreement, the platform’s largest streamers have long had access to more lucrative revenue sharing deals. For many of these creators, they have also been given monthly stipends to stream exclusively on Twitch. The Amazon owned streaming platform is now looking to trim its costs and boost profitability. This means less revenue in the pockets of content creators.

Twitch is navigating a very difficult path, balancing both profitability and equitable revenue sharing with its creators. They're in a bad competitive position as well. YouTube, their primary streaming competitor, offers better revenue sharing and no streaming exclusivity provisions. On paper, you would think there is little incentive to stream on Twitch.

From the creator perspective, Twitch's standard 50/50 revenue split is a tough pill to swallow. Especially when the creator is doing the lion's share of work to generate subscriptions and platform-based tips. And while Twitch has recently loosened up its platform exclusivity conditions, you still cannot multi-stream to Twitch's major competitors as a Twitch Partner.

There's one main reason why more streamers aren't leaving Twitch (at least yet). Twitch still provides the best user experience for a gaming live stream. The custom emotes, chat interface, and community feel on Twitch is still superior. The look and feel of Twitch (outside of their ad delivery system) all contribute to making Twitch the natural environment to watch a livestream.

But YouTube isn't far behind. A few critical changes to YouTube Live's platform, and Twitch's advantage weakens considerably. If YouTube Live already had a better stream interface, custom emotes, and an easier way to parse live streams from VODs, YouTube would be the dominant player in gaming livestreams.

Right now, thousands of Twitch partners are mulling over their long-term connection to Twitch. Do they stay in their comfort zone, or do they venture out and make the switch to YouTube? Streamers are also highly focused on what their peers do. When more influential streamers switch to YouTube, especially those without a large paid contract, more and more Twitch streamers will follow.

Is a Twitch exodus like to happen soon?

Probably not. So far, most of the notable creators that have switched to YouTube have done so with the cushion of a paid contract from YouTube. For creators, it's a scary thing to ask your community to move to a new platform. Without jumping in both feet first, there's little way for creators to know how many of their followers will make the switch with them. And importantly, how much of a revenue hit creators will take when switching.

This much is clear though...there's VERY LITTLE incentive for a new content creator to start streaming on Twitch.

The discoverability barriers and low revenue splits are major drawbacks. YouTube Live, even with its shortcomings, is a better overall pick for a new creator. To grow a livestream these days, you need to create content on other platforms anyway. Streamlining your livestream and VOD content in one place is attractive.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out. But my money's on YouTube Gaming as the ultimate winner in the gaming livestream content space.

About the Author. Eric Harper is the CEO of GG Talent Group, a full-service talent management agency for gaming and music content creators on Twitch, YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok.

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