Both Twitch and YouTube offer ways to monetize your live streams, but there are some key differences to consider when determining how to get the most out of your content.
Twitch and Youtube are the two biggest platforms for live streaming for gamers, but which one will help you make the most money? Let’s take a closer look at monetization options on both Twitch and YouTube so you can decide what’s best for your creations.
From its inception in 2011, Twitch has been live streaming. Purchased by Amazon in 2014, Twitch has become the number one site for streamed gaming content.
Twitch users can enjoy video in 1920 x 1080 at up to 60 frames per second with the ability to stream up to 48 continuous hours. Unfortunately, Twitch is unable to archive streams permanently at the time this article was written, which does potentially decrease some of its monetizing ability.
Making Money with Twitch
Once you begin streaming from your account, Twitch has a wide variety of monetization tools ready for you to use. YouTube and Twitch personality RumHam provides some revealing data, including his analytics, about typical earnings a Twitch creator can make. Let’s take a look at these tools.
You can earn revenue from Twitch through ads. Creators on a small to mid level typically see an average of $2 per thousand views from ad placement. While ads are not considered a huge chunk of revenue for most Twitch streamers, they do encourage viewers to buy a subscription since ad-free viewing is one of the bigger perks.
By far, Twitch’s strongest monetization tool is the subscription feature. Similar to a subscription like Netflix or Hulu Plus, the subscription feature allows content creators to charge a monthly fee, set by the creator, for viewer perks. These perks include but are not limited to: ad-free streaming, chat features, special emotes, badges and access to archived and private streams. This is great since it allows the content creator the freedom to choose what perks a subscription will offer. For instance, if you like the idea of subscription badges but you don’t like the idea of private streams, you can choose to offer only the badges.
Twitch has two classifications of streamers: partners and affiliates. The subscription services are available to both Twitch partners and affiliates, although some subscriptions features are only available to creators at the partner level. For more details, Affiliate Resources has a great breakdown of the subscription difference between Twitch affiliates and partners.
Another way creators are able to monetize with Twitch is through game sales. Similar to affiliate marketing programs, Twitch creators can link their viewers to the Twitch store to buy games that creators are playing or that they mention during their stream. Currently, this feature is only available to those with partner status, but for every purchase made through the link, creators receive a five percent commission fee.
The final way that Twitch creators can cash in is through fans Cheering with Bits. Bits are pieces of cybercurrency that viewers gain by watching ads and filling out surveys. A singular Bit is equal to $0.01. These Bits can be donated to channels as tips. A nice thing about this feature is that creators have the option to set minimum and maximum donation limits.
Conceived in 2005 and purchased by Google the following year, YouTube added their live streaming services in 2013.
YouTube’s stream quality is impressive providing support for 3840 x 2160 video at up to 60fps as well as 360 degree video. Most important, YouTube allows creators to archive streams permanently, allowing viewers to return and re-watch their favorite videos.
Making Money with YouTube
RumHam also shares his Youtube analytics about the rather complex way one makes money on YouTube. YouTube has been in a constant state of flux this past year regarding monetization, so keep this in mind when viewing RumHam’s video. Here’s a look at the monetization tools that YouTube makes available.
By far the most common monetization tool YouTube has to offer is ad revenue to its partners. YouTube has recently gone through an overhaul of their Partner Program, requiring that to be eligible for monetization, channels must meet and maintain the following requirements: at least 1,000 subscribers and at least 4000 hours of video watched in the past 12 months. Both requirements must be continuously maintained, otherwise you lose your partner status and access to ad revenue.
Those who qualify with “top tier content” are invited to be part of Google’s more lucrative Preferred Program, which bundles together content for selective advertising.
While creators are able to generate a steady stream of income through ad revenue, there are some downsides. Even preferred partners are being subject to review for “family-friendly content” through Google’s AdSense algorithms, which are constantly changing requirements and making it difficult to predict who and what content will be allowed to have ads. Still, as long as you’re able to maintain either Partner or Preferred Partner status, ad revenue from YouTube is a great way way for an established channel to receive steady income.
Just recently, YouTube launched a Twitch-style subscription service called sponsorships. This program offers similar features including the ability to customize your offerings. However, at the time that this article was written, most of the program is still in beta with YouTube currently rolling out the subscription service only to “qualified” gaming channels. YouTube’s says that the service will eventually be part of their Partner Program.
The newest way for people to make money on YouTube Live is through a feature called Super Chat. This allows partners to receive money and tips during their live streaming. However, since this is a newer feature, there’s not much data on revenue potential. Still, it’s another tool to potentially increase your revenue.
The Best of Both Worlds
After reviewing the features for both platforms, you may be wondering which one is better. The question you really should be asking yourself is how to use both YouTube and Twitch to monetize your live streaming creations to their maximum potential.
Twitch does appear to be interested in providing some monetization for affiliates while they try to grow their channel, while YouTube is focused on creators with well-established followings. If you are interested in launching a gaming channel, Twitch might also be preferable, since most gamers go to Twitch looking for this type of content. However, that does not mean you should choose only one platform. YouTube can be a great advertising opportunity for your Twitch channel. Additionally, YouTube can also be a great archival platform for your Twitch streams.
The Advantage of a Multi-Platform Strategy
By creating a multi-platform brand, you can also maximize your revenue while incorporating other tools both on and offline. Here are a few platform-independent monetization options to consider.
Patreon & Ko-fi
Donation sites such as Patreon and Ko-fi allow viewers to support creators directly. While Ko-fi does it through the use of one time donations, Patreon users are able to set up multi-tier monthly services similar to subscriptions. You can direct your viewers to Ko-fi and Patreon in your videos and streams, and both platforms have the ability to set up direct links in description and home pages.
Sponsorships can be an incredibly lucrative for some creators and can be multifaceted, including compensation for event attendance, product endorsement, product reviews and even product placement into your content — usually through wearable merchandise or consumable items. This is generally reserved for creators with a very large subscriber base, although some companies might also consider influencers with an avid niche fan base. Smaller creators may often receive free products, which can also be a great form of compensation for smaller creators depending on the product.
Merchandising can be a wonderful revenue generator that also helps build your personal brand. Many smaller to mid level creators have been able to make money by selling merchandise, be it t-shirts, buttons or custom creations, through either their own website or sites such as Etsy or Redbubble. On a larger scale, creators with company sponsors often partner with those sponsors on lines of merchandise geared toward influencing the creator’s viewers.
Usually placed in a stream’s description box, an affiliate marketing link allows the viewer to go visit the site of a product or company. Creators then receive a small commission for every visit and/or item purchased through this link. This commission value varies from company to company.
It’s important to create a great product and a solid fan base if you want to make money on any platform. I would suggest starting out with Twitch since it has a clearer, more user-friendly interface and allows you more control and opportunities to grow while launching both you and your streams.
Once you have established a fan base, begin to upload your streams to YouTube to ensure they are properly archived for viewers. This also allows you to start growing your following on YouTube, as well. Be sure to cross-utilize the sites, linking one to the other. It’s also never too early to take advantage of additional tools for maximum earnings.
Ultimately, you’ll need to craft a monetization strategy that makes sense for your fan base and your projects. It all comes down to marketing both you and your content. There is potential to eventually make a living streaming your game play and even to earn some serious bank — if you’re willing to put in the work to make it happen.