YouTube vs. Twitch: Which Pays Better?
For anyone getting started out in the streaming business, it's easy to get tied-up in concerns over making money. Our advice: Don't focus on that initially. Build content and a following first (see: “How to Make Game Streaming a Job”), then worry about the details. If you are struggling to find the right game to play, then check out our article on the top games to stream on Twitch and YouTube.
Still, picking a platform does impact following and speed of growth.
Decide first based on the type of content you'd like to produce. If your work is more post-production intensive, YouTube is the obvious choice – it supports archival uploads more appropriately. For streaming, things become less clear. Both YouTube and Twitch support streaming, and both now have mature and well-rounded game streaming offerings.
Let's just focus on the aspect of money for today. We're assuming that you're already somewhat established at this point, and hopefully have a good idea of the type of channel you're building.
How Does YouTube Pay?
YouTube will grant access to Google AdSense as channels grow, which provides a pathway to some light income. YouTube ads that play before videos generate income for content creators, and are available in skippable and unskippable ads. Post-roll ads are also present, as are mid-roll ads, though both of these are less utilized and only common for channels that regularly upload long content (>15 minutes).
In addition to these ads, in-content ads (you know that 'x' you click on when an ad pops onto the screen? That's what we're talking about) will also generate some revenue. Keep in mind that ads are about more than just “clicks” – it's impressions that make money, here. The more views a video gets, and the longer its pre-roll ads are viewed, the more revenue that video will generate.
That is mostly the extent of YouTube monetization. Content creators control on a per-video basis which of the above ad types are enabled, and each can be disabled if desired. Ads which are displayed adjacent to the video (the square ad) are mostly controlled by YouTube.
Keep in mind that YouTube & AdSense pay on a revenue share (“rev-share”) model, so you'll be taking a percent cut and Google takes a percent cut. Add an MCN, and that revenue is split further – but MCNs offer other valuable services, like music licensing or direct ad sales (potentially increasing CPM, or cost per mille (thousand) views).
How Does Twitch Pay?
Twitch.tv is similar. The video streaming service runs ads intermittently, with each ad break generating the streamer some revenue. Twitch.tv is well established for live stream monetization. You can run an ad before the stream starts, as you're setting up, and ads can run during bio breaks or between matches. There are limits to frequency – and they shouldn't be too frequent, anyway, as users get annoyed – but it's a good idea to run an ad whenever you step away from the stream for more than a minute.
Twitch also pays on a rev-share model of sorts. Twitch runs its own internal ad server, with all ads delivered in video form. This is all pretty similar to YouTube, at the end of the day.
Where Twitch.tv differs, though, is with its subscriber model – and YouTube has a similar system with its relatively new YouTube Red.
Twitch users can subscribe to a channel for a monthly amount, which is then split between the channel and Twitch. That's a good chunk of change each month. Users often augment this income further with PayPal donations or Patreon subscriptions.
Which is Best?
It depends on what you're doing. A living can be made on both platforms, though eventually figuring out how to incorporate each for its strengths would be a wise move. Consider supplementing income with sponsorships (you can apply for one with us over here), crowd-source revenue, or through user donations.