Twitch vs. YouTube: Which Platform Is Best for Your Influencer Campaign?
It’s one of the biggest questions video game marketers need to answer. Twitch vs. YouTube. How do you decide the best platform for your influencer marketing strategy?
Twitch vs. YouTube is fast becoming as contentious as PlayStation vs. Xbox, or even—dare we say it—PC vs. console. With Covid only accelerating the meteoric explosion of gaming video content (GVC), video game marketers are more eager to capitalize than ever.
Here we’ll break down the essential criteria video game marketers should consider when deciding which platform—Twitch or YouTube—is best for the influencer campaign success.
As a bonus, at the end of this post, you’ll find a handy infographic you can save to plan your future campaigns.
Gaming video content is on the rise
Let’s take a closer look at the current—and future—state of GVC. Gaming content viewership increased 18% in 2020, reaching 1.2 billion viewers. Revenues hit $9.3 billion in 2020 as a result, with Twitch and YouTube accounting for 22% and 18% respectively. In the US alone, GVC is projected to gain more than 4 million monthly viewers in 2023. Twitch saw viewership grow 82% over the year, while YouTube Gaming hit 100 billion hours watched across more than 40 million gaming channels.
In fact, nearly half of YouTube and Twitch viewers watch more than they play. And they’re not just passively watching: they’re buying as a result. 52% of watchers said their video game purchasing decisions are significantly impacted by their favorite gaming influencers.
Livestreaming is more popular than ever. It grew by 91.8% in 2020, with 7.46 billion hours watched across platforms. YouTube is challenging Twitch’s historical dominance over live gaming, with YouTube live gaming content eclipsing 10 billion hours in 2020. Twitch isn’t budging yet though, accounting for over 72% of total hours watched in the first quarter of 2021. With YouTube and Twitch looking set to battle it out for years to come, where does your brand fit in?
Let’s look into the key metrics and peculiarities of both platforms.
Twitch or YouTube? Learn the difference
Audience (reach and demographics)
YouTube Gaming is growing rapidly. 100 billion hours of gaming content was consumed in 2020, double the 50 billion hours recorded in 2018. Over 40 million active gaming channels exist on YouTube, with more than 80,000 topping 100,000 subscribers.
This breadth of content gives video game marketers ample opportunity to find the ideal creator to partner with. YouTube is more than just an on-demand library too: over 10 billion hours of livestream content was consumed in 2020 as the platform looks to challenge Twitch’s live dominance.
YouTube’s vast majority of content is still on demand, and its audience comes to learn. 86% want to learn new things, while 70% want to solve problems relating to work, school, or a hobby. Compared to Twitch, entertainment ranks third at 57%.
YouTube reaches 1.8 billion monthly viewers, and that’s not including ‘anonymous’ users who aren’t logged in. YouTube is popular no matter the age group, with only a 10% drop-off between 15 to 35 year-olds compared to 56+ year-olds in the US.
Twitch records around 140 million unique viewers monthly. Its viewership is dominated by a younger audience: nearly half of its users are 18 to 34 years-old, with 21% aged between 13 and 17. About half of Twitch viewers spend more than an impressive 20 hours a week on the platform. Twitch had approximately 9.52 million active streamers in February 2021. It boasts more than 3 million concurrent viewers, beating YouTube’s 870,000 concurrent viewership for gaming livestreams.
Although Twitch is centered around gaming, it’s not the only content you’ll find there. In fact, the platform’s “Just Chatting” category records more watch time than even the top performing video game, clocking 7 million more hours than League of Legends in December 2019.
Mobile use is bigger than ever in 2021, so it’s vital to think about how mobile viewers will consume your content. Here’s a statistic: more than 70% of YouTube views come from mobile devices. You can’t not consider mobile. The average mobile viewing session on YouTube is just over 40 minutes.
Twitch is more PC-heavy, with 35% of its total views coming from mobile. With this in mind, if you’re promoting a mobile game you may favor YouTube. Likewise, if you’re advertising a hardcore PC game, Twitch could be the best move.
You can have the perfect integration planned, but you won’t see success if your content isn’t optimized for the platform. Twitch is dedicated to livestreaming. Video on demand (VOD) content exists on the platform, but it’s simply past livestream broadcasts. While gaming livestreams are most common, you’ll also find content such as talk shows and—lately—hot tub streams.
Given it’s live, Twitch’s content is inherently more timely relative to YouTube. On Twitch, the game being played is relevant now. Twitch chat is talking about things happening now. While there’s still significant amounts of timely content on YouTube, there’s just as much evergreen content being produced.
Twitch streams are long. From one hour all the way up to ten hours (or in exceptional cases 31 days), top Twitch influencers aren’t shy about keeping the show going. The relationship between a Twitch streamer and their chat is a special one. The ability for a person to chat to their favorite streamer in real-time creates an incredible level of engagement and connection. This engagement is reflected in the data: an average Twitch user spends 95 minutes a day watching live gaming. Twitch chat often dictates a stream, from what game the streamer plays to who they actually play with.
On the other hand, YouTube VOD is often 10-15 minutes in length (though longer videos exist). While YouTube’s comment section creates conversation around each video, it’s hard to replicate the engagement of a 10-hour long Twitch chat. But assuming a YouTube user likes what they watched, it’s typical they’ll go watch other videos on that same channel.
Measurement and Analytics
You can’t afford to blindly choose which platform to promote on. Measuring your influencer campaigns and utilizing analytics can turn a near miss into a massive success.
Both Twitch and YouTube offer partial access to their channel analytics via APIs. Combine this with in-depth third-party analytics programs and you’ll be on the right track. Twitch Insights provides game and extension developers with metrics around how the entire Twitch community interacts with their products. Metrics include live and on-demand views, average concurrent views, peak views, and Twitch Bits revenue. These metrics, combined with the platform’s openness to sponsorships, mean video game marketers can better determine which top Twitch streamers to collaborate with for their Twitch marketing campaign.
YouTube offers similar insight. YouTube Analytics API and YouTube Reporting API enable channel and content owners to access analytics. YouTube API retrieves two types of data: dimensions, i.e. aggregated data including users’ country and date of activity, and metrics, which include total video views, average view duration, and ratings (likes and dislikes)—all on an individual level.
Pricing for influencer sponsorships isn’t objective. It varies depending on followers (subscribers in YouTube terms), views, engagement, and more. Both YouTube and Twitch influencers generally prefer partnerships utilizing a flat-fee payment model. The platforms differ on what criteria are considered most important. Brands using YouTube are mostly focused on an influencer’s average number of views. Utilizing this metric, you’ll get an idea of how many people will see your advertised content on a particular channel. Subscriber number is more of a vanity metric which shouldn’t be prioritized. It’s common for a channel with 300,000 subscribers to average only 5,000 views a video.
Twitch influencer marketing focuses on the average number of concurrent viewers or number of viewers per hour of a livestream. Agencies charge $0.5-$2.5 per viewer per hour on average. For YouTube influencers, expect to pay $25–$100 per 1,000 views on average.
When Marketers Should Select Twitch Over YouTube (and Vice Versa)
Understanding each platform’s pros and cons is essential to your brand’s Twitch or YouTube success. Isolate which pros and cons are most relevant to you and keep them front of mind as you navigate your influencer marketing strategy.
- Twitch encourages higher audience engagement as content evolves in real-time. The platform’s live element makes viewers feel like they’re part of the show. This high level of engagement increases likelihood of higher conversion rates.
- Twitch chat creates interactivity that’s difficult to match. If your game is well received by both streamer and people in chat, that positive conversation amplifies your integration.
- Watch time is much longer, so audiences really get to learn and engage with your game. Increased watch time also typically builds trust between streamer and viewer. If a viewer’s favorite streamer is playing your game, that can be perceived as a seal of approval, increasing purchase intent.
- People usually only watch streams once, so you’re largely relying on viewers watching live at the time of your brand promotion.
- Twitch’s internal analytics are still relatively limited compared to YouTube, inhibiting your ability to identify influencers and track campaign results as successfully throughout your Twitch marketing campaign.
- YouTube content doesn’t ‘disappear’ like Twitch streams. Content can be evergreen and generate views years later.
- Sharing YouTube content is seamless, enabling brands to amplify the reach of their YouTube influencer campaign.
- YouTube is the world’s second-biggest search engine. Users can find your branded video via keywords—even if they’re not subscribed to or aware of the YouTube influencer you partnered with. YouTube content is also more searchable than Twitch content on Google.
- YouTube has a broader audience in terms of age, which may be important if you’re not exclusively targeting youth.
- Unlike Twitch, YouTube lacks real-time audience interaction that can be significant to positive brand engagement.
Twitch vs. YouTube isn’t a one-dimensional debate. We’ve identified key pros and cons for each, so applying that knowledge to your specific influencer marketing campaign can help determine which platform you should choose. Plus, there’s no exclusivity between the two: video game marketers can leverage both. CloutBoost is an influencer marketing agency driven by data. Armed with our unique expertise and essential tools, we can transform your video game marketing strategy today.