The live streaming wars are not about streaming at all: they are about the future of live television. The fighters – Twitch, Mixer and Caffeine, right now, although Facebook and YouTube don't have to be counted yet – have their own vision of what that looks like and what it should mean for consumers. To that end, Twitch, Mixer and Caffeine have seriously started competing over exclusive deals for big names in streaming.
The interesting thing about those deals is that they seem to overlook the internet video elephant in the room: YouTube. Most of the largest live streamers on the internet also post videos of their streams on the site, which earns them extra money without having to do more work. That means that YouTube is the real winner of this streamers competition. Twitch and Mixer spend huge amounts of money on talent – and YouTube is still reaping the rewards.
YouTube has been the favorite video hosting site on the internet for the past ten years; as it grows up, it has changed the texture and culture of the internet. For young people, YouTube is where things happen. Just like high school, it has its own conventions, dramas & rivalries. Most major streamers themselves are fairly young and raised in the blue-light glow of the internet. For them, YouTube is just as well known as, let's say, their children's bedrooms, making it a natural home for all the videos they happen to produce.
This applies to all top makers of the site. Turner "Tfue" Tenney, who has more than 7 million followers on Twitch – and is currently the most active channel of the site – has 11.3 million subscribers on YouTube, and his uploads, which contain Twitch content, routinely erase the million mark. That also makes him one of the top stars of YouTube.
Online influence is currently platform independent. Although it is still possible to make your name on one platform and move your fans somewhere else, there is no reason to believe that this will continue. Today, YouTube announced that it has entered into an exclusive live streaming agreement with Lachlan Fortnite YouTuber with 12 million subscribers on the platform. During Fortnite"‘ The End ’event a few weeks ago, it attracted 198,976 simultaneous viewers – which overshadowed the stream of Tim‘ TimtheTatman ’Betar the next day, bringing 100,000 viewers to Twitch.
If YouTube decides to really participate in the live streaming wars – which shows every sign of action – the landscape promises to change dramatically again.