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What is Twitch and how is it different from YouTube?
Gaming alone is never as fun as sharing the experience with others. Even narrative-driven game nuts that focus entirely on a game world for its eight-hour playthrough know there’s something magical about sharing that world with others. As a streamer, Twitch allows you to share your current goings-on with a live global audience anytime. As a viewer, you have tons of options to support your favorite streamers through subscribing or donating. Whether you’re in it to start making money as a gamer or to simply share your gaming experiences with an audience, let’s go over what Twitch is and how it works.
THE SHORT ANSWER
Since its launch in 2011, Twitch has established itself as the go-to online livestreaming platform for gaming, as well as general entertainment, sports, music, and more. Whether you want to stream or view others' streams on Twitch, you can access the platform from your mobile device (Android and iOS app) or your computer (Twitch.tv).
What is Twitch, and how does it work?
Twitch is one of the world’s leading online livestreaming services. Known primarily for gaming streams, many users choose to share their live gameplay publicly on Twitch. Others decide to stream other categories of content, like music production, art, and even “Just Chatting” streams, where streamers choose to appear in front of their audience and engage in conversation with them.
Livestreaming is when someone broadcasts content in real-time to an audience. Think of it as a live show, but you’re watching it all happen online from a source like Twitch.
Streamers have a lot of freedom regarding how they set up their stream. Most streamers use a webcam so their audience can see their reactions. Using streaming software like OBS or Streamlabs, you can also set up a custom overlay to customize the look and feel of your stream.
As a viewer, you get to experience things along with your streamer. For example, if the streamer is playing a horror game for the first time, the jumpscares scare them just as much as they may surprise you.
How is Twitch different from YouTube?
In function, the gap between Twitch and YouTube is very small. Both sites allow you to livestream content to the platform directly through streaming software and upload permanent videos directly to your account. That said, you have to be a verified Twitch account (Partner or Affiliate) to be able to upload videos to Twitch.
Since its launch in 2005, YouTube has been the internet’s central hub for online video content. Users go to YouTube to watch videos that have already been created (recorded and edited). In 2015, YouTube introduced its own livestreaming feature; however, livestreaming is not YouTube’s calling card.
Twitch is different from YouTube in core purpose. Think of it like this: Twitch could not survive without livestreaming, but it could survive without permanent videos. YouTube could not survive without permanent videos, but it could survive without livestreaming. Twitch is known as a livestreaming service, while YouTube is known for videos.
Yes, it is possible to stream on Twitch and YouTube simultaneously. However, you must use a program like Restream, Streamlabs Prime, or MelonApp.
Twitch Prime and Twitch Turbo
Twitch Prime and Twitch Turbo are Twitch’s two primary subscription services. Both offer their own benefits, but there are some similarities.
Twitch Prime (known today as “Prime Gaming”) comes with Amazon Prime. Because Amazon owns Twitch, you need not pay anything extra for Twitch Prime if you are already an Amazon Prime subscriber.
- Twitch channel subscription
- Member access to game content
- Exclusive emoticons
- Expanded chat color options
- Member-only Prime chat badge
- Extended broadcast storage
Twitch Turbo is Twitch’s proprietary subscription service. This is purchased through Twitch, not Amazon, and costs $8.99 per month. The most significant benefit of Twitch Turbo is the ability to bypass all of those ads that play during streams.
- Ad-free viewing (with limited exceptions)
- Chat badge
- Expanded emote set
- Custom chat username colors
- Extended broadcast storage
What are Twitch Partners and Affiliates?
Twitch Partners are typically more prominent content creators that have a regular following. You can tell a Twitch Partner apart by the purple checkmark that appears next to their username.
According to Twitch, Partners are “those who are committed to streaming and are ready to level up from Affiliate.” As a Twitch Partner, you can earn income through monetization, customize your channel, access Partner-only opportunities, and more.
To become a Twitch Partner, you must apply to the Twitch Partner Program. Eligibility for this depends on whether you’ve successfully completed the Path to Partner achievement. You must “maintain the criteria set forth in the achievement on a consistent basis.”
The Affiliate program is for those who don’t meet the more extensive criteria of the Twitch Partner program. No, you won’t get the purple checkmark as a Twitch Affiliate, but you will be able to upload videos to your account and—most importantly—monetize your content.
To become a Twitch Affiliate, you must meet (and maintain) the Path to Affiliate achievement criteria. This means reaching 50 followers, streaming for 8 hours, streaming on 7 different days, and averaging 3 or more viewers.
Twitch stream categories (Tags)
The role of Tags on Twitch is to help differentiate streams into categories or genres. For example, if you were to go to the library, you wouldn’t expect to see an encyclopedia in the comic book section, right?
“Tags are publicly shared details about your content that let others discover you more easily. They are shown alongside the video thumbnail, stream title, and the game or category anytime you see a video on Twitch." — Twitch Help
If you go to twitch.tv/directory, you can browse Twitch streams by category. There is also a Search Category Tags field for when you already have a stream category in mind.
Stream Tags and Automatic Tags
Stream Tags and Automatic Tags appear as little grey buttons underneath a Twitch stream’s title. They indicate specific key details about the stream.
Creators and channel editors can apply up to five Stream Tags to their stream. Additionally, some have unique requirements.
Automatic Tags, like the “English” tag in the example xQc stream, are automatically applied by Twitch when certain conditions are met. These cannot be added manually by streamers.
Twitch automatically adds Category Tags to streams based on the content of the stream. You can see Category Tags underneath games or categories on the twitch.tv/directory page.
Category Tags, as their name aptly denotes, categorize all of Twitch’s different ongoing streams. They are most useful when describing games by genre. That said, Category Tags cannot be manually added by streamers.
READ MORE: How to create and download clips on Twitch
Amazon has owned Twitch since 2014. They purchased it for $970 million.
Yes. You can make money through Twitch itself if you are a Twitch Partner or Twitch Affiliate.
TwitchCon is an annual convention held by Twitch. The primary focus is to champion livestreaming culture, along with video game streaming and gaming in general.