Can Twitch ever be as big as YouTube?


Photo by Tarcil Tarcil. License: CC BY 2.0

Twitch area at the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) in Los Angeles.

YouTube is one of the biggest sites on the internet, and has seen exponential growth year after year since its foundation over a decade ago. It received eight million visitors on the day it officially went live in December 2005. More recently, there’s no greater measure of success than August’s boxing match between KSI and Logan Paul to indicate just how influential YouTube actually is. Both fighters were YouTubers boxing at a very low standard, and yet they attracted more than one million PPV sales. This is largely down to their huge combined audience they’ve earned from YouTube.


 Photo by Luigi Novi. License: CC BY 3.0.

 Paul’s large physique is evident, even in 2016 before his boxing endeavours, and is mostly down to his wrestling background.

The site itself has a current total of 1.3 billion users, who watch five billion videos every day. Its popularity with the younger generation is also significant, with many studies showing more and more children are choosing to watch YouTube instead of TV. Even some sporting events are streamed on the platform, the UEFA Champions League final for one. And with Amazon and other streaming platforms also beginning to broadcast sport online, YouTube is leading the way for migration away from TV.  

So on to Twitch. It has similarly been revolutionary, albeit on a smaller scale. No other site, including YouTube, is as popular when it comes to streaming games, and some users have even said Twitch has benefited their mental health as well. Its viewership eclipses live TV figures, which in itself gives Twitch credibility as an alternative source of entertainment. The site generated more than twice as many maximum viewers that watched content simultaneously on the site than YouTube, at 788,00 towards the end of last year.

We are not just talking about video games either. Looking at poker for an example, professionals such as Lex Veldhuis, Jason Somerville and Daniel Negreanu are considered poker pioneers for streaming on Twitch. They have lead the way for other poker players on the platform, but significantly all still frequently upload on YouTube. So in essence, they use both platforms to display their content, but the fact that they began on YouTube yet now choose Twitch as their primary streaming platform encourages others to similarly migrate.

So it is certainly a popular stage for a range of gamers, but in terms of Twitch being actually as big as YouTube, that is a different situation.

To determine whether Twitch can be as big as YouTube, we must look at both platform’s potential. YouTube is currently formatted in 76 different languages and has officially launched in 88 countries. It is undoubtedly a massive player worldwide in the online industry, but has it peaked or will it continue to grow and become ever more popular?

It is tough to imagine YouTube being even more successful than it already is, but if there is a finite amount of people that it appeals to in terms of audience and content creators, that implies that it will have to peak at some point. So, the bar is set high, but just how high will that bar reach? If we assume that YouTube is at its peak now, we can use its current state as the benchmark for Twitch to reach.

Does Twitch have the capacity and potential to get to where YouTube is now?

What will bring the long-term growth is a system that works and is adaptable to change. Twitch definitely works as a streaming platform, its million-plus viewers will testify to that. Like YouTube’s partnership programme, it allows (in this case) primarily gamers to establish a source of income in the form of donations and subscriptions. However, is there any other direction for Twitch to go from here?

Where YouTube has shown its versatility and ability to adapt – embracing live streaming for instance and implementing that into the platform – Twitch may struggle due to its limitations. It is a master of one trade: being a streaming platform. YouTube is that and much more. It has shown it can host live events, be a database for information, be a place to rent and watch films and shows. Twitch was made for gamers with the sole purpose of providing a place to stream and upload that specific content to.


Twitch is almost certainly not going to reach the levels that YouTube is at right now on a general scale, but that is simply due to the fact that it’s targeting a niche market. Even if it were to grow and reach its full potential, it would not reach the full spectrum of YouTube, as there is simply a larger market existing for video content in general as opposed to just gaming.

If we break it down to a gaming level however, Twitch has the potential to near-abolish YouTube’s presence in gaming. Due to its size and the fact that it is ingrained in our society, gaming content will always exist on YouTube (hence the term ‘near-abolish). But the progression and improvement of Twitch could really see its competitor decline.

The next couple of years are crucial. Nobody can deny its success at present, but Twitch must establish itself as the place to stream and watch gaming in order to truly cement its place in the online, content-creation world.


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