Because the platform is centered around live streaming, Twitch content is uniquely interactive. To learn more about what kind of content works the best on Twitch, read this section.
YouTube Live may be one of the newest kids on the live-streaming block, but its pandemic-grown viewership bubble is starting to deflate. With ad revenue falling, the platform has taken several measures to ensure that viewership and profitability stay high.
One of those is signing contracts to secure exclusive rights to stream high-profile, limited-attendance events like Coachella Music Festival and MLB games. However, in the world of live streaming, it’s not enough for viewers to merely watch; the real money is in engagement. For Coachella, YouTube banked (haha, get it?) on deriving profit from a new shopping feature that allowed users to purchase exclusive merchandise without ever clicking away from the music stream. YouTube creators who specialize in MLB-related content will also be available to talk with fans over chat features during the baseball games, which should spur community engagement. These measures are not merely focused on engagement for the sake of engagement, but rather as a means of focusing audience attention for longer periods of time. Whether or not viewers use the chat or even buy merchandise is largely besides the point, making the stream the primary form of engagement is.
YouTube plans to expand the tie-in shopping feature, especially during content that may involve teaching viewers new skills. However, YouTube isn’t taking any chances; they have also adopted features copied from Twitch which allow channels to direct their viewers to other streams. As Twitch is currently the most-successful live streaming platform, it seems that YouTube Live is taking more than notes from its success.
Traditional news channels like NBC and Fox often have their chat features disabled when they are streaming the news on YouTube Live. The offerings that these mainstream media outlets put onto YouTube are also generally the exact same ones that are currently airing on cable. Streaming engagement is correspondingly low on these channels– they often only garner a couple hundred viewers at a time.
Commenters who donate sums of money purchase the chance to have their comments featured. Not only are these comments pinned in replays of the live chat, but they also show up on the streamer’s channel– this is similar to monetized features on other channels like Twitch.
Engaging with viewers through the chat is by no means a universal task for live-streamers. It is largely, if not entirely, dependent on the size of the audience. Handling a chatroom of hundreds of thousands of viewers, though most will not be active in the chat, requires multiple chat moderators just to keep things civil and SFW, much less to pull out informative talking points and valuable questions. Frankly, with the quality of live streams from most major news outlets, these do not seem to be steps they are willing to take.
For smaller, likely individual streamers, monitoring a small yet active chat can also be a challenge, attempting to navigate both the content being presented, as well as ensuring each viewer that takes the time to engage in the chat feels seen. Many view streams while either gaming or cooking, multi-tasking. But engaging in the chat likely means the stream is the viewer’s sole focus; nurturing that relationship is the surest way to build an audience.