Live online gaming broadcasts are incredibly popular. The streaming service known as Twitch surpassed 2 million concurrent viewers this past weekend, all of which were gamers watching other gamers play video games. Those numbers were partly boosted by the North American finals of the 2015 League of Legends Championship Series – not that it needs a boost, as just last month the service drew over 30 million viewers.
However, the Amazon-owned company may not remain king for long, as they are about to get some direct competition. Tomorrow, YouTube will launch their own streaming service dedicated to live gaming and gaming-related content. YouTube Gaming, which YouTube and parent company Google announced in June, is meant to be all inclusive for people looking for gaming video content.
Back in 2014, Google lost their chance to own Twitch.TV to Amazon. They were willing to pay $1 billion to own the service, which is only slightly less than the $1.65 billion Google paid for YouTube when they bought the site in 2006. The release of YouTube Gaming is coming exactly one year and one day after failing to acquire Twitch.
The two services are far from identical. Twitch is specifically for straight gaming content. Youtube Gaming appears to be more akin to a gaming-themed YouTube. Ryan Wyatt, the head of YouTube’s global gaming content at YouTube, told Business Insider in June that some of the unique content that YouTube Gaming will provide over Twitch are things such as game-themed cooking or game-themed animations.“Gaming content can be scripted animation, live-streaming, original programming, eSports, people doing cosplay for a champion in a game, and more,” he says. “We want to be all inclusive to everything that fits under ‘Gaming,’ broadly.”
So, all gaming-related content will be covered by the service whether or not it is strictly about playing games. It will also provide users with personalized recommendations based on the pages and channels they follow, much like the current non-gaming YouTube does.
Is this the big competition it’s being made out to be? Right now, both services seem focused on two different things. Though Twitch does offer VOD content, it’s the live streaming that grabs viewers. When Amazon bought Twitch, the service accounted for 40 percent of all live video streaming traffic online. YouTube isn’t pushing the live-streaming focus yet, though a new page at youtube.com/stream, which is currently in beta, provides a streamlined process to start streaming at a personal URL.
There’s also the fact that most Twitch users have YouTube accounts as backups, and also use those channels for additional revenue. Having a YouTube space focused on them will certainly be a huge draw, but whether it will actually pull users away from the Twitch platform remains to be seen. Of course, there’s also the fact that Youtube is a mainstream video platform and despite Twitch’s huge popularity, it’s only gamers that really know what it is and how to use it.