YouTube may be the world’s largest and most popular video sharing site, but that doesn’t mean it has a monopoly on user generated content. One of the most popular and fastest growing verticals in online entertainment is video game streaming, a genre that belongs squarely to YouTube rival Twitch…for now. YouTube is stepping up its live streaming game in an effort to capture the lucrative and growing live gaming market.
YouTube is already matching Twitch when it comes to video quality. YouTube’s live streaming technology supports 60fps streaming in both 1080p and 720p. However, the video giant is also offering HTML5 video playback, allowing YouTube to offer features that Twitch, which operates on Flash, can’t currently match. YouTube stream viewers will be able to skip backwards while the stream is live and then continue viewing in 1.5 or 2x speed until they’re caught up.
These new features are attractive to users, but it’s unclear if they’ll be enough to attract the popular and influential streaming personalities who have grown comfortable over on Twitch. The two companies were once rumored to be close to a merger that would have brought Twitch into the Google fold as a division of YouTube. That deal is rumored to have fallen through in part because Twitch wanted more autonomy than YouTube was willing to give. The company would later be acquired by e-commerce and media giant Amazon.
Twitch may have a head start when it comes to amassing a large community of loyal creators, but it’s important to remember that many of those streamers are no strangers to YouTube. In fact, many of Twitch’s most popular personalities built their following by posting Let’s Plays on YouTube before jumping over to Twitch for a more interactive experience with their audience. All YouTube has to do is lure them back home, and it has Google-sized resources to help do it.