Twitch enforces streaming exclusivity as YouTube Gaming launches

With the launch of YouTube Gaming, the battle-lines are drawn for a streaming showdown between incumbent games video powerhouse Twitchand Google’s scrappy newcomer.

It’s more of a fight to win hearts and minds though — or at least subscriber numbers — and Twitch has thrown the first punch, tying its “partners” to exclusivity contracts with the existing platform.

This isn’t entirely new, and won’t affect many beyond those players who have signed a contract to monetise their livestreams. Twitch already had a clause preventing partners from using rival services (such as Hitbox or standard YouTube) for gaming broadcasts, but doesn’t prohibit the uploading of recorded clips to “static” video sites.

However, with YouTube Gaming looking to make a big splash in the streaming world, the Amazon-owned Twitch has been more vocal in reminding its circa 11,000 streaming partners of their legal obligations. Regular YouTube is undeniably the biggest name in online video and there’s likely some temptation among the better known streamers to see if the grass is greener in Google’s valley.

It’s unclear how strict Twitch will be in enforcing the rules. There’s already confusion among the user base though, with Twitch streamer and YouTube video creator Lewis Dawkins telling VentureBeat that “all I have heard from other people is that I am not permitted to livestream on other platforms. However, some other people have told me I am permitted as long as I do not stream on two platforms at the same time, so I’m pretty confused.”

YouTube Gaming is yet to respond to the exclusivity tactics of Twitch, nor has it given any indication of whether it will implement its own talent lockdowns. And then there’s the potential matter of poaching — how would the live gaming world react if online celebrities such as Syndicate, with more than two million Twitch followers, were nabbed by YouTube Gaming?

WIRED.co.uk has contacted Twitch and YouTube for comment. Twitch’s press officer replied with a flat “We don’t comment on contracts”. YouTube’s comments will be added should we receive a response.

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