We all know cable television is a dying industry. Most people know they have the option to watch their favorite shows and films at their own pace via streaming services. So why would they tune in to a certain day on tv and watch hundreds of ads, when they can do it online (sometimes) ad-free? Plus there’s no concerns if you have to stop for a bathroom break. Burritos don’t always agree with your stomach the way you’d hoped, and that’s where the glory of the pause button comes in. Some cable companies are even working on their own brands of streaming services. None of this is new information. What is new is the fact that user-created content on services like YouTube and Twich are actually even more popular than other streaming services.
Statistics were released recently by a firm called SuperData Research . The sample audience was from a year ago, but it still proves the point that YouTube and Twitch really reign supreme. At the time that the data was collected, Hulu actually had the lowest number of subscribers at 12 million, while YouTube had a whopping 517 million. Netflix had 93 million, while Twitch had 185 million. That’s significantly less than YouTube’, but still higher even than the 130 million HBO subscribers. If Twitch and YouTube can outweigh rabid Game of Thrones fans, then clearly they’re doing something right.
The biggest fact that puts Twitch and YouTube above other streaming counterparts is the fact that they are free. HBO, Netflix, and Hulu are all pretty expensive, and some of them even require you to still watch ads even as a subscriber. Twitch and YouTube also have ads, but they’re generally pretty short, some give you the option to skip them entirely, and most people have learned to ignore them. There’s also the fact that there is literally something for everyone on YouTube and Twitch. YouTube reigns supreme because it isn’t entirely focused on gaming content; there’s plenty of variety there. Even still, for Twitch to have more viewers than even HBO and Hulu combined is pretty impressive.
As creators are given access to high quality tools via sponsorships and corporate locations like YouTube Spaces, they have the ability to create content on the level of their competitors. Netflix might have an army of filmmakers and television producers, but YouTube and Twitch have plenty of talented individuals as well. While bigger budget projects are being created for Netflix, Hulu, and HBO, YouTubers and Twitch streamers are managing to entertain audiences with much less. It’s a pretty hopeful concept really. We’d rather watch what our peers can come up with than a large company.
We’ve all known for quite some time that we’re headed towards a future where cable is much different than it is today. But what if we’re also on track to see company-created content go away completely? What if video game content creators on Twitch and YouTube become the only kind of consumed media? There’s little chance that all other kind of content is going to disappear completely, as not everyone is interested in video games. But the “what if”s are interesting to consider.
Video game content is generally limited to those who seek it out. But as Twitch and YouTube get bigger, it will be harder for non-gamers to ignore. Esports might be watched in the future by those who have never even picked up a controller, and there might be a larger percentage of the population that plays video games than there is currently. As I said, it’s not really possible for all other media to disappear, but perhaps YouTube and Twitch will broaden esports and let’s plays’ each. What do you think?