YouTube Live: Easy Streaming and the Joy of Not Editing

Conferences like PAX East, for us, is about talking to creators. There are few better opportunities for conversations with YouTubers, streamers, and any number of other gaming celebrities, to find out about how they work, what’s working, where they struggle. What makes them tick. While having a great time, meeting amazing people and taking in the incredible games, booths, and panels, we also learn more about the space in three days than we can gather in weeks back home, tracking people down or scrounging the internet for little bits of information. It’s hard to overstate how much we enjoy it; really getting into the nuts and bolts with the people doing the real work.

Thing is, you listen enough, patterns start to emerge. This last time out, in Boston, one theme kept popping up, again and again.

“I’m making fewer videos,” they’d tell us, “and I’m streaming a lot more.”

It was a big year for streaming. Amazon paid almost $1 billion to acquire Twitch, and the streaming service has been exploding in popularity, expanding its reach out away from the gaming space and into realms like music and live performance, even as its viewership and usage numbers skyrocket around the globe. For creators, the advantages of streaming over YouTube videos can be numerous. Creating video means a lot more than just playing the game and joking around. The process of filming, editing, adding graphics and sound effects, and rendering is extensive, and the more prolific YouTubers find themselves with little time to do anything else. Streamers, though, don’t have to deal with any of that. It’s sit down, boot up, and bam, you’re good to go. Meanwhile, viewers feel even closer to a streamer with less artifice between them. The stream doesn’t stop as they eat a snack, or get interrupted by their roommate or their cat. There’s an even higher level of intimacy too it, a greater sense of connection, the engine that drives the whole machine. So it’s no surprise that more and more creators are seeing the appeal of the stream, spending more time on Twitch and less time on YouTube.

Thing is, YouTube noticed. The eye of Google is all-seeing, all-knowing, and you know they’re not going to give up on a segment of the marketplace just because someone else has a bit of a head start. Enter: YouTube Live, the revamped, rebooted YouTube streaming service reportedly set to announce at E3, later this year.

Now, live streaming has already existed on YouTube for some time, though it hasn’t received the attention one might say it deserves. At PAX, Hike the Gamer, alongside TypicalGamer and TeamEpiphany talked about why they prefer to stream on YouTube vs. Twitch, specifically that it’s easier for their fans to find their content if it’s all in one place. It’s where their fans are, they noted, and being on YouTube lets them get the content to their audience that much faster and easier. Still, Hike admits that another big part of the appeal is that, while his audience on Twitch isn’t anything special, on YouTube, he’s one of the biggest streamers around, and he likes being the biggest fish in the pond. Hard to imagine that’ll still be the case once this revamp becomes a reality.

One interesting thing to note is that, while Twitch branches out, moving away from the gaming space and towards new audiences, YouTube seems to be committed to focusing on gaming content for the foreseeable future. Let’s Plays and compilation videos are a dominant force on YouTube’s video platform, and it makes sense to make it the primary focus when it comes to streaming. One wonders, though, how will they differentiate themselves from Twitch? What tricks do they have up their sleeve, special tools, extra features, that would drive creators to leave the comfy confines for something new? We know that creators like Aureylian, a Twitch partner who consistently uploads YouTube videos as well, manage their behavior during live-streams in such a fashion that they can be edited down into episodes for their channel. Suppose YouTube made this process simpler. What kind of interaction between streams and attached channels would convince creators to make the switch? I have no doubt they’re keeping features secret, waiting for the reveal.

The trends are clear. YouTube and produced videos aren’t going anywhere, obviously, but streaming just keeps growing, and YouTube is smart to jump on board while the gettin’s good. If they can manage to really integrate with the services they already provide, to make content creators’ lives easier, they could really put a dent in Twitch’s market share. It’s an uphill battle, for sure, but one they’re wise to fight. I’m excited to see just what it is they intend to bring to the table.

Originally published at Mar 26, 2015.

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