YouTube Buying Twitch Could be Bad for Content Creators

Twitch never wanted to be YouTube. Twitch did the leg work to become synonymous with game streaming — even to the tune of would-be PlayStation 4 owners crying foul over the initial news that the console would support UStream over it. If you’re going to livestream a game, you use Twitch.

YouTube has tried to be Twitch after missing the livestreaming boat, but it was too picky about it. Livestreaming was implemented, but only for partnered channels. By the time it was implemented for users across the board in December, that ship had sailed. All that web traffic belonged squarely to Twitch.

Google tried to pull the “me too” card with Google+ when it decided it needed to have a social network, and that has never worked. This problem was a bit simpler to rectify, as we’ve recently learned that Google had enough money in their YouTube pockets to buy Twitch outright.

Makes sense, right? YouTube is the home to countless gaming-related channels, a genre which comprises some of its most popular destinations. There’s a lot of cash to be made in hosting gaming videos, and they’re the go-to. Now they own the home for the gaming livestream, as well.

As a matter of convenience, sure — this could be a good thing for consumers. But what about the content providers?

YouTube and Twitch are still different services, no matter how much YouTube wanted to be both. Still, YouTube is such a dominant giant in Internet video that any other successful company doing any form of web-hosted video is going to be good for innovation, keeping everyone on their toes. As long as there’s the threat that a potential viewer could go elsewhere, YouTube had to make their service better to entice that traffic to return.

Now, they’re one big step towards being able to comfortably sit on their laurels and rake in the dough. In the age of a horrendous, automatic Content ID system sparking false copyright claims left and right and stealing from the pockets of content providers, that’s bad news. It’s even worse news if you believe that said Content ID system will now encroach on Twitch traffic.

Say what you want about Google, but they’re good at software. Thus far, they haven’t shown signs of letting any worthwhile software die (I said worthwhile, Currents and Buzz fans). The company is typically active in its support and improvement of their services. Any regular Twitch user is familiar with the issues they’ve had with stream buffering lately; Google can provide the help they need.

Let’s just hope that YouTube doesn’t need a threat to improve life for its content creators, because one doesn’t really seem to be in sight anymore.