Information about streaming services
Streaming has become an essential part of gaming for players. Professionals not only like to showcase their skills in public games, but with the help of the streaming platforms, they are able to gather some additional money. But what about amateurs who seek to generate some money from a smaller audience? In this article a detailed rundown of the possibilities the streaming industry has to offer is covered. The websites were selected based on their popularity, there are options besides the ones listed. Other aspects such as financial support as well as an audience analysis will be discussed.
Arguably the biggest platform that has ever existed, battling off competition ever since its creation. Whenever a tournament is announced, no matter in which eSports discipline, the Twitch bell is rang in everyone’s mind. Compared to other streaming platforms, Twitch is almost only about gaming. In recent times however, well-known DJs seemed to opt for this option in order to display their skills and parties. In addition, the mainly YouTube based label, Monstercat, has a 24-hour music stream running day-in day-out.
The San Francisco based website started as a spin-off of the well-known Justin.tv. Due to the fast growth of the gaming section on Justin, the creators decided to release a separate website dedicated to players, calling it Twitch (coming from twitch gaming). The site entered its beta phase on June 6th, 2011. During the last couple of years Twitch.tv has evolved into a state in which it has drawn the attention of larger companies such as Google and Amazon. The latter eventually managed to acquire the platform with a bid in the region of $ 970 000 000, as Google decided to back-out from the auction due to antitrust concerns.
The greatness of Twitch.tv was again demonstrated on the 17th of September 2015, as Blizzard announced its partnership with the streaming website. Players now have the possibility connect their Battle.net accounts directly to Twitch and allow them to watch games of Heroes of the Storm within the client. Players who go for this move would then be rewarded by the gaming company.
After the discontinuation of Own3d.tv, Twitch became the solitary platform for gaming live streaming. Former members of Own3d.tv then decided to invest into a new project, establishing Hitbox.tv. The idea behind creating this platform was to set-up a rival for Twitch, as at the time when Hitbox was created, Twitch was covering almost 100 percent of live streams. It was created from scratch, with the help of a team experienced in streaming platforms, with its main goal being to bring a totally new livestreaming experience.
In an interview the CEO of Hitbox.tv underlines the following aspects:
Offering less latency between streamer and viewer
Higher quality streams
Interactivity between users
At the time of the interview in 2014, Twitch.tv was offering its services with a latency of around 12 seconds. Hitbox set its standard at 2 to 5 seconds, which according to the CEO, were met at the time. Since then it has to be said that Twitch introduced a new system which would decrease latency with around 33 percent for its broadcasters. Although the developments mean that the average latency has dropped to approximately 7-8 seconds, this is still a higher value than what Hitbox.tv offers. Quality-wise, Hitbox just introduced its 4k broadcasting capability at an incredible 60 frames-per-second. Although many people might not have the necessary hardware to fully enjoy this feature, Hitbox has become the first company to offer such a staggering service. With its constantly developing infrastructure, Hitbox.tv might just become a fierce rival of Twitch in the upcoming years.
In recent times that well-known website tried to integrate a live broadcasting option into its repertoire. Having failed with the takeover of Twitch, Google decided to invest into creating its own platform. Game streaming is somewhat new in the circle of YouTube users, but they might be familiar with live coverage of different popular sporting events. Compared to other websites, YouTube users need to have a verified account and they have to obey some rules concerning copyright issues before they can unlock the livestreaming feature. This means that in order to start broadcasting with YouTube’s services, a well-established account is necessary, which might not be an option for every user. YouTube has introduced its gaming interface, called YouTube Gaming, a website similar to what Twitch offers. Backed by the experience and resources of Google, YouTube live streaming has put itself on the map of gamers.
Dailymotion also offers live streaming services. The website is mostly known as a “second” YouTube. It became more popular during the copyright changes that came with YouTube, as many videos were deleted in a period of time. Users then opted for uploading their content to Dailymotion as the site then allowed a wider range of content. Setting up a stream on Dailymotion seems to be the most complicated out of the ones listed. However, the site offers a guide, which helps the user through the initial bumps. The streaming service can be accessed by uploading a video then setting up an event and toying around with different configurations.
The Chinese version of Twitch.tv, as many like to refer to it, Douyu.tv was established in early 2014. It is more or less the equivalent of Twitch, as it offers a platform for live streaming for gamers mostly from China. Nowadays, content besides gaming streams can also be found on the website, as it is becoming the largest of its kind throughout Eastern Asia. Currently owned by the Guangzhou Douyu Network Technology Co. Ltd., the leaders of the company are in talks over a possible investment by Tencent Holdings Ltd., a move similar to what Amazon did with Twitch. This could mean that the platform would see further developments in the future. The website is fully Chinese, with no other language options, so it is mostly recommended for the ones who have some knowledge of the language. It is also the home of most Chinese pro gamers’ streams, so if you willing to follow your favorites or wanting to learn some lingo, this might just be the perfect option to go for.
Talking about finances
Twitch is quite open when it comes to finances. They allow numbers to be published as well as details of contracts with players to be presented. In general, streamers on Twitch make most of their money from subscribers. The subscription fee is $4.99, which is then split into two, $3 going to the broadcaster, while Twitch holds on to the rest. In order to get access to the subscriber feature, one must become a Twitch partner. This is possible if the user has an average viewership of 500 people. Besides subscriptions, Twitch also allows advertisements during the streams, making way for another option for streamers to generate revenue. Ads however offer limited income due to many viewers using AdBlocks. The new trend among viewers is the donation. Broadcasters can get donations using the features of TwitchAlert, a company that should not be affiliated with Twtich.tv. The service costs each user 1 percent of every donation.
Hitbox.tv removed the minimum viewership requirements, which means that everyone is able to generate money from ad revenue share and subscriptions. Advertisement revenue shares are calculated depending on the region the broadcaster is working from, ranging from 2.5 EUR/USD to a 50:50 split with the company. Subscription fees are divided equally between the two parties.
YouTube also supports advertisements as a source of income. If using the normal monetizing system that is available for every YouTube partner, one can make between $1.36 and $3.40 per 1000 views. The YouTube contracts are not openly-available, but it is possible to estimate revenue with the help of different websites.
Dailymotion is somewhat similar to YouTube in the perspective of releasing information. Three options are available for users:
Becoming a partner and gaining 50% revenue from advertisements
Becoming a publisher and earning money from other people’s videos
Selling your own videos
The money that can be generated using these three options as well as a livestream feature is not published.
Douyu.tv is famous for its large audiences. However, rumors are surrounding Chinese platforms that they would offer a fixed salary to its users as well as some bonuses, and in return, publish fake numbers of viewers. If these accusations are true, then it is impossible to estimate the money that can be generated from Douyu.tv. On the other hand, if the numbers are to be believed, Dota 2 professional YYF has an average viewership of 200k-400k people. If only $0.01 is calculated for an advertisement, and it is taken into account that around 50% of the audience is using AdBlock, showing just one ad to this many people could mean an income of $1.000-$2.00 per ad.
What do the numbers say?
Remark: Dailymotion is not included in this section because it does not have a gaming interface, thus the numbers associated with the website would not be representative for this article.
It can be seen that money is strictly related to the number of viewers. This is why it is important to choose a website where the created content can be found. When it comes to popularity, Twitch.tv is the hottest option.
Graphic credits: Similiarweb.com
Looking at the numbers from the upper half of the image, one can think that Twitch.tv is the easiest and possibly the best platform to go for. Aspects like visitor numbers and highest average time spent on the website are very important for a newcomer. The more time is spent on browsing content, the bigger the chances are that new users would be discovered. However, considering the popularity of the website as well as the requirements for payment options, the task might just be a bit too much for a beginner broadcaster to be noticed. A safer option would be to start small and go big later as the user senses a growth in viewership. Changing platforms can also be a viable solution later on, depending on the preferences of the streamer and the financial possibilities.
Another important factor is the location of the audience that is visiting the different websites. The bottom half of the image represents a division of the viewers, based on their geographical position. While Twitch and YouTube Gaming are popular in America, the greater percent of their users are from outside of the United States. Hitbox.tv has mainly Poland-based followers and focuses on Europe. Douyu.tv is obviously covering mostly the Chinese market, having a whopping 87% of its audience from the Asian country.
One last important factor in building up a strong audience is connected to the streaming standard. When it comes to broadcasting, one should not forget that besides the personal satisfaction of being able to promote themselves, the broadcaster has to take the viewership satisfaction into account. This can be done with a variety of personal skills or traits (making enjoyable content, begin a funny person etc.), but it might just not be enough to gather a larger audience. Choosing a quality standard is very important to fully please the spectators. A great explanation is offered in this video.
Of course, besides having the necessary hardware for an arbitrary streaming quality, it is also important to check if the selected website does indeed support the desired resolution. High definition streaming is supported by most of the websites nowadays, and as mentioned before, Hitbox.tv stands out with its 4K capability.
To sum up everything, it is now clear that there is quite a large number of possibilities to go for (some not mentioned in the article). Each and every option comes with advantages and disadvantages, so it might just come down to the personal taste of the broadcaster which platform they would select. As a beginner, the user should focus on targeting an audience that would fit the created content, carefully select the platform based not only on money, but as well as on future prospects, such as possibility of growth or diversification of the audience. You can choose whichever you like more!
Note: All the used graphics and logos belong to their respective and rightful owners.
(Author credits: Ferenc “Sarkane” Fodor)