PewDiePie, YouTube's biggest star, has launched a new show on Amazon's livestreaming service Twitch.
Twitch is best known as a platform where people livestream themselves playing video games. Amazon bought it for $970 million (£778 million) last year, and it's often seen as a YouTube rival.
PewDiePie, real name Felix Kjellberg, is Swedish but now lives in Brighton.
His new show is called "Best Club," is hosted on a channel called Netglow, and bills itself as a talk show.
The first "Best Club" livestream involved Kjellberg and his British co-host, Brad Smith, chatting for two hours, and playing games and pranks.
At one point, Smith dressed up as Kjellberg's real-life girlfriend, Marzia Bisognin. Towards the end of the video, Kjellberg encouraged viewers to tweet Jimmy Fallon with pictures of hang gliders with the hashtag #netglow.
PewDiePie announced the new Twitch show in a YouTube video titled: "Can we save YouTube?", leading to speculation he was abandoning the platform that made him famous. There are two schools of thought on this:
- YouTube faces a serious threat from Twitch, because its biggest star has abandoned the platform, and advertisers are leaving in droves because they're worried their ads are appearing next to hateful content
- PewDiePie is hedging his bets on a less restrictive platform but is still going to rely massively on the popularity of YouTube
Here's why the second scenario looks more likely:
It's going to be difficult matching those YouTube numbers
PewDiePie has a massive following on YouTube, with more than 54 million subscribers, and averages more than 1 million views for every video he posts.
Kjellberg became famous for his "Let's Play" series, in which he played video games with running commentary. But he's increasingly moved to (seemingly) off-the-cuff rants, pranks, and commentary.
It's not going to be easy to persuade his 54 million users over to Twitch, which has 9.7 million daily active users according to its internal stats. Kjellberg's first Twitch show streamed live on Sunday. Here's how it did:
- It was 2 hours long
- Around 60,000 people watched
- Around 93,000 are subscribed to the Netglow channel
It is, of course, very early days for "Best Club." But that's a fraction of Kjellberg's audience base on YouTube, and there's no way he's going to put all his eggs in the Twitch basket until those numbers are significantly up.
PewDiePie earns a shedload of money on YouTube
Kjellberg can't afford to ditch YouTube, though he has said he doesn't really care about the money. According to Forbes, he made $15 million (£11.8 million) last year.
In "Can we save YouTube?", Kjellberg talks about advertisers ditching the site out of fear their ads will appear next to extremist content.
In the video, he cites numerous stats suggesting YouTube is more effective at advertising than cable TV. If anyone understands the economics of YouTube, it's the guy who earned almost £12 million from the site last year.
In the first episode of "Best Club," Kjellberg and Smith opened with a plea for money.
"This is literally a crowdsourced channel, which ultimately we hope will have a lot more content on it," said Smith.
One way Kjellberg and Smith can make money is through a subscribe button, which lets people sign up to a channel for a monthly fee. This is only available to "Twitch Partners", and it doesn't look like "Best Club" qualifies yet. "We don't have a sub button yet," Kjellberg said during the video. People were donating directly to "Best Club" during the livestream, however, though this reportedly isn't a reliable method of income.
Twitch is niche and male-dominated
Twitch's main use case is for livestreaming games, though the service is trying to expand into other areas.
In its own documentation for advertisers, Twitch describes itself as a social network for games, and boasts that 75% of its audience is male.
(A spokesman for Twitch told Business Insider the page was out of date, and the audience is actually 70% male and 30% female. He added that 40% of Twitch streamers who make content about fashion, cooking, and lifestyle are female.)
That's a serious flaw in the thesis that Twitch will topple YouTube any time soon.
If Twitch is really going to knock YouTube off its perch, it's going to need to persuade female users to sign up. And it isn't likely Zoella's going to be changing platforms any time soon.
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