Since Twitch came around in June 2011, it has become one of the top platforms for content creators to showcase their stuff. Though originally this was limited to only video game-related content, they started a “real life” stream which expanded the type of material creators could share through the site. Their continued growth has made them an “obvious” competitor to YouTube, the previous defacto platform to use for content sharing. What’s with the quotations? Well, despite the clear similarities, YouTube has made very little attempt to stop the bleeding out of YouTubers migrating to Twitch. It’s almost as if they were so arrogant that they refused to acknowledge that they could even have competition. With Facebook also entering the ring with their own competitive offering to entice content creators over, it’s clear that there’s a lot of money involved in the business and YouTube needed to start upping its game if they wanted to remain top dog.
After a long time seemingly doing nothing to increase their competitivity, YouTube has just announced that they will be introducing new ways for creators to monetize their content. These include a $4.99 USD channel membership that gives subscribers access to exclusive material, special badges, and custom emotes. Sound familiar? Anyone who knows anything about Twitch’s subscriber model should notice the obvious similarities. Maybe I should’ve used quotes there again, as YouTube maintains that these ideas just happened to develop this way due to the response of creators and viewers. In an interview with Polygon, YouTube’s senior director of product management, Rohit Dhawan, had this to say about the issue:
“We really spent a lot of times with creators. These last two years, it’s been a ton of conversations with small and large creators. All my inspiration is going to come from what they have said they would like this product to kind of be. The thing that I think that makes us distinct is how incredibly customizable this is. The perks that the creator comes up with is a blank slate. We just listened to our creators and viewers, and this is what they thought would actually help them the most. That’s really where the inspirations come from.”
Oh really? That’s where the “inspirations” come from? And where does Dhawan think the creators/viewers got their ideas from…
“I’ve been working on it for a long time. We’ve been testing these features and they’ve reached a certain level of success, so it’s very much inspired by the fact that it was just a great opportunity to help creators make more money. I can tell you that as a leader of this thing, it’s 100 percent inspired by what’s the best thing we can do for creators and viewers.”
So basically, YouTube lost millions of dollars last year because advertisers pulled out after their ads started appearing next to shady videos, and then suddenly, Dhawan expects us to believe this new monetization route just happens to appear now because it’s the “best thing” they can do for creators? Please, don’t kid yourself. It’s clear that YouTube is feeling the pinch now and is finally starting to recognize that changes are needed if they want to have any chance against their competition.
Judging by some of the requirements for this new program, I’m not entirely sure it will be enough. Right now, creators can only use this service if they have over 100,000 subscribers and be in their partner program. This alienates a lot of smaller creators from reaping the benefits of this program and might keep them on Twitch or Patreon as those platforms do not have such restrictions. This industry moves fast and changes often. From my perspective, YouTube seems to have grown too big and thus too slow to be able to properly adapt to the evolving market.