YouTube Gaming announced it is now possible for users to live-stream their mobile games to an online audience, bringing a new element to the service which is charging hard-to-grab players and viewers from Twitch.
The service also launched a beta of two new funding options, Fan Funding and Sponsorships, currently being tested by "a small group of creators" according to a blog post on the YouTube Gaming site. The sponsorship feature allows fans of specific gamers to offer up a monthly payment in return for a few exclusive perks.
YouTube also updated Gaming's user interface, adding a "Watch Later" tab to allow viewers to bookmark gaming sessions, as well as the ability to import existing subscriptions from the main YouTube site. iOS app users gained an improved search experience.
The mobile streaming feature was added after player feedback during the Tokyo Gaming Show, said Product Manager Barbara MacDonald in a blog post. "Every day, games are played while waiting for the bus, riding the subway, or lounging on the couch -- but what about live streaming your mobile gameplay?" Users can also record gameplay from their mobile device. The feature is available only on Android devices for now. "You can now record and live stream mobile gameplay on-the-go directly from Android devices using Mobile Capture on YouTube Gaming. You don't need any additional hardware or software -- just tap Go Live (or your avatar on a phone) in the YouTube Gaming app, turn on your selfie cam and record your commentary with your phone's microphone. "
YouTube's new sponsorship program is similar to Twitch's partnership feature. Like the partnership program, Sponsorship doesn't remove advertisements from the screen, TechCrunch noted. YouTube would likely need to implement a paid subscription-type model similar to Twitch Turbo, which removes ads across its site, in order to do that.
How closely Gaming is competing with Twitch in terms of viewers isn't yet known. While YouTube said that users are watching 144 billion (with a "b") minutes of live streams and recorded videos on its main site each month, TechCrunch reported, it hasn't yet broken out how many live-streamed minutes alone are being watched.
Alphabet (NASDAQ: GOOG), formerly Google, will report its third-quarter earnings on Oct. 22, but how much attention it will devote to YouTube in its earnings breakout isn't known.
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