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Casey Neistat says YouTube is vulnerable to Twitch

Casey Neistat says YouTube is vulnerable to Twitch


“If YouTube’s not scared of Twitch they should be now.”

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Photo by James Bareham / The Verge

It’s a loaded Vergecast this week. Nilay, Paul, and Dieter welcome back Silicon Valley editor Casey Newton to break down the Cambridge Analytica scandal at Facebook, after talking through predictions for next week’s Apple event.

But first, another Casey makes his debut on The Vergecast — Casey Neistat! Nilay talks one-on-one with Casey about a multitude of topics, including Beme, his view of YouTube, Twitch, and other platforms, sponsorship, and what he’s up to next. It’s exactly what you’d expect from Neistat, honest and direct.

02:36 - What to expect from Apple’s education event

20:56 - Casey Neistat interview

52:07 - Paul’s weekly segment “Swag for Me? Swag for you too

54:59 - Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica data scandal, explained

Here’s an edited excerpt of our conversation with Casey Neistat about YouTube, Facebook, and Twitch. There’s much more in the show itself, and we’ll post the full interview with Casey in the Vergecast feed tomorrow, so stay tuned for that.

Nilay: Facebook announced its Patreon clone. They want to attract creators to that platform. Does that interest you?

Casey Neistat: The short answer is yes. I wish there was a better word than influencer because that’s just such a dirty disgusting word, but generically an influencer someone who peddles their influence in exchange for goods and services. As someone who makes a living on social media, there’s always a desire to find new outlets for monetizing the content that you create. I think if Facebook is coming up with inventive ways to do that, sure, that’s interesting.

That’s a very pragmatic, practical answer. I think a more romantic, or more emotional answer is just — what’s cool right now? Where are the eyeballs right now, what’s socially and culturally relevant right now? Yesterday I tweeted [Ninja’s] interview with CNBC and I said if YouTube’s not scared of Twitch yet they should be now.

And you’ve been doing stuff on Twitch recently.

I think Twitch is a really interesting platform. But there were a lot of people that came back to me who were not creators on either platform, and they’re like “YouTube is bigger than Twitch by a multiple of X. YouTube has nothing to worry about, YouTube is not for streaming, YouTube is not for gaming, Twitch is only ...”

Totally reasonable responses. Practically, unemotionally they’re all correct. Except when you put the X factor of emotion, you put the X factor of culture, you put the X factor of cool in there, all of sudden becomes a very real existential threat, not to YouTube as a viable search engine for video that is the global standard for searching for video, but the community, the community of creators and their audience, which is a huge extremely exciting, extremely valuable piece of property in the media space. I would argue the most valuable piece of property in the media space.

They’re vulnerable. YouTube is vulnerable. And if Twitch is seen as the new cool kid in town, which Ninja did an amazing job and so did CNBC of painting it as that when they’re talking about the monetization opportunities on the platform and Twitch Prime and all these things that sound so much more exciting than a five-second pre-roll that you wait to skip and in return you get 50 percent of a tenth of a penny or whatever it is on YouTube. That sounds exciting.

And if there are interesting people like Ninja and the other people that are really dominating Twitch as a platform, combined with the mass frustration that’s taking place with the creator community on YouTube, that’s what I see as an existential threat.

I don’t think YouTube’s going to go out of business this year, and I don’t think Twitch is going to eclipse YouTube anytime soon, but I do think in the months and the years tides shift. Snapchat seemed like this impenetrable, invulnerable monster when it came to being socially relevant and Instagram is is mopping the floor with them when it comes to social relevance right now.

A lot of Vine stars went to Instagram. When you think about where you’re going to be, is your home YouTube and you’re looking for something else or are you trying to be distributed everywhere?

I’ve always aspired to be platform agnostic. I have always said I’m only loyal to my audience. I have no loyalty to a platform. I love YouTube, but if my audience is not on YouTube I’m going to go to wherever my audience is. And this is why no matter how interesting the monetization prospects are on Facebook, the majority of my audience right now is not there. So even if they had really compelling ways to pay me, if my audience isn’t there, I don’t care. Inversely, if there are places that are not making any money at all but my audience is there, I’ll go there.

How do you balance that out? You gotta eat.

Yeah, and I think it’s very challenging. But I think that how I balance that out is the main reason why YouTube is such a priority for me. It’s where the majority of my audience is. So what you see me doing on Facebook, what you see me doing on Twitch, what you see me doing on Instagram and places like that, it’s experimental to see how does the audience respond, versus what you have seen me doing on a platform like YouTube, which is a much more committed, consistent respect for both the audience, the content and the platform.

If you enjoyed this podcast and want to hear more audio from The Verge, well you’re in luck. Season 2 of Why’d You Push That Button hosted by Kaitlyn Tiffany and Ashley Carman is here! This week’s episode is about taking selfies in public. You can subscribe anywhere including on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Play Music, and our RSS feed. And get caught up on season 1 if you missed out.

Also! You can check out Lauren Goode’s podcast Too Embarrassed to Ask and stay tuned for a NEW podcast hosted by Casey Newton himself.