After a successful period of testing, YouTube announced it was expanding its sponsorship programme last week, giving viewers the ability to purchase digital goods directly from creator channels and receive special perks in return for regular monthly payments toward the channel's upkeep.
It's a move that's very similar to recent developments in Twitch's partner programme, but Midia Research analyst Karol Severin has told MCV that playing catch-up like this is a "double-edged sword" for YouTube.
"On one side, it can be argued that reactionary ‘me-too’ moves are more about trying to keep up, rather than trying to get ahead," said Severin.
"YouTube will have to come to terms with the fact that Twitch has captured a piece of the live gaming video pie, and it will be very hard for it to re-capture much of this segment back, in no small part due to Twitch’s non-compete clause for its live streaming creators."
He continued: "Yet battling for the gaming segment is just one part of the story for YouTube. The other is how to monetize video for itself, and creators, across the wider spectrum of themes and genres.YouTube can learn a valuable lesson in allowing a part of its gamer segment to slip to a more games-focused competitor. It can apply Twitch’s (and others’) product innovations in games streaming to its non-gaming genres and replicate this across its entire platform, if the programme proves successful.
"This way YouTube will be in a much better position to prevent its creator community from switching their platform of choice to a more theme-focussed competitor as they emerge (e.g. when Twitch for cooking comes about).
"Indeed, YouTube seems to be doing just that, having announced the testing of the sponsorship feature beyond its gaming channels. If successful, the company will benefit from improved monetization and protection of its non-gaming video streamer community in the future. Examples could include an improved fundraising experience via live video, as well as serving as a more lenient channel subscription model for creators of educational, DIY, or even music videos."