The closing gap between YouTube and Twitch


When I’m talking about the closing gap here, I don’t mean revenue or whatever, I mean degradation of site experience. I left YouTube because I was tired of the site not working well for anyone, and Twitch would naturally be next if they continue on this path, but there’s hardly any alternative left that I’d consider using, so I may have to just go the hard way of making my own solution.

Twitch is relentless with its attack on viewers with random ads, bypassing adblock and interrupting the whole experience even for those willing to sit through ads. And they’re now apparently stacking ads as YouTube has done for some time, plus it doesn’t seem that they can be skipped at all, unlike on YouTube which tends to allow a skip for anything longer than 15 seconds, for now. There’s a major problem here between the two sites that means the same ad strategies won’t fit, and it’s live content. YouTube does have streaming, but the majority of the content is focused on pre-made videos, which can be paused without losing content. Live content does not stop, and even sports events can time ad breaks to downtime during the games, while such a possibility is hit or miss with any individual streamer. Maybe streamers won’t even run ads because it’s a small revenue compared to subscriptions. Those who do would probably like to time them during breaks in their stream and not leave it at the random discretion of the megacorp behind the site.

Then there’s the DMCA bots, which now there’s been a massive attack from litigious parties and Twitch has of course responded badly to this. They already muted random parts of videos if they even sounded like a song, and these mutes are inaccurate due to how it will block out several minutes before and after the flagged content as well. There was a period when YouTube muted the entire video for those that supposedly contained certain content, but that seems to have passed there for now, instead the whole video just gets taken down if anything. Twitch has recently done that to a selection of random VODs without warning and without any further identification as to what content was even in some videos.

Nothing I’ve done in my small-time streams there has been affected as of yet, as I try to mind that, but I’m also a fair use advocate who would love to be able to play very small clips for examples or points made during a stream, or at least run the songs in the background while things happen over them that would make the song unusable outside of that context if they’re so paranoid that someone’s really going to pirate songs from a stream of a game that has it as background music. My alternative would be to run loud malformed MIDIs of popular songs through a loud player with some slight playback issues, and if I can’t even do that alternative then I’m not streaming.

That being said, my streams will probably stay small-time, especially if Twitch has their way. While I’m not pursuing any major popularity, having others be able to somehow find enjoyment in my streaming content would be nice, and I won’t get far if the stream is slammed with ads out of my control. Therefore, I might as well just move forward soon with a personal streaming setup before I feel like streaming again. Maybe in that case, it won’t be the most soon, but I should get started for it to be ready whenever I feel like it again, provided there will even be a society to return to. It’s going to be pretty bare bones, the core of which being some streaming I/O software that’s probably based in Linux and hopefully portable to a later hosting solution once I’ve finished initial testing, mainly making sure I’m the only one who gets to stream to it and that it’s viewable in a browser, maybe relying on a third-party chat system initially.

The hosting solution is another aspect, since residential networks are not made for server hosting, I’d need an external host designed for it, hopefully at a cost that doesn’t make a small-time money sink too costly, including possible spikes of activity, including the domain name possibility as well. Bandwidth may be a problem for anything designed to host video content in general. To offset those costs, I’ll unfortunately likely end up settling on some kind of ad system, but I won’t make it as bad as Twitch is, only keeping banner ads at a minimal invasiveness, and I won’t fight adblock. Maybe a crypto or regular money donation alternative would be another idea. If society wasn’t so demanding of payment for everything, I’d gladly go without all of this revenue concern.

Then there’s the question of VODs. If I have to resort to making a junk YouTube account to take advantage of that hosting, then so be it, I’ll just deal with whatever that brings as far as a million notifications about people who are definitely the lawyers of Beethoven and not just some jerks wanting to make money for an illegal drug operation of some kind probably wanting to put ads every 10 seconds on those VODs, all because they think they heard half a second of some song that I didn’t even play. The concept of adblock doesn’t even need mentioning here. Ideally, though, I could get a solution adjacent to the stream server itself, but we’ll see what lawyer-filled complications may arise to get in the way of that, taking live versus recording into account and so on. I still have no plans to just stream a bunch of music or movies, of course, there are plenty of other places to do that in varying amounts of legality.

If a suitable stopgap alternative arrives in the middle of working on this project, I may set up an account there, provided they don’t sell out to Facebook or any other megacorp I’ve been trying to dodge at this rate. However, I’ll need to keep working on the stream server of my own devising to have it ready to go when that platform inevitably becomes terrible. The key difference about my developed platform would be that it’s designed for use by one person alone, and therefore I don’t have to worry about anyone else wanting to stream on that site. It really would be like going back to the roots of the original JustinTV, but in a Twitch-like content format focused on games or other weird related tech. Depending on how much I get involved in the code and so on, I would want to post my code or at least a detailed tutorial with a kit for the public to use, though. I’d already be starting from some basic tutorials on the core I/O server idea, but those need some significant work to be public-facing. And after that, it probably needs criticism from experienced server coders, but that’s a benefit of open source design where possible.