What is the Best Bitrate for YouTube Streaming?

When you start delving into the details of video encoding, it can come as quite a shock just how much there is to tweak and adjust. Many of us will be content to choose an encoding preset that works and stick with that, and that’s fine for your average YouTube video, but what about streaming?

If you’re looking for a quick answer, here it is; the best bitrate for YouTube streaming is between 2,250 and 6,000 Kbps for 720p video at 60 frames per second. Of course, there is much more we can cover in this topic, which is precisely what we intend to do in this post. For example, why did we pick 720p? What is the best bitrate if you want to stream a different resolution to 720p? What is a bitrate?!

Let’s dive in.

What is a Bitrate?

The bitrate of a video is literally the rate that bits are transferred when streaming. The higher a bitrate, the higher the quality of the video can be. Bitrates can be fixed or variable, and the streaming platform can (as most do) make dynamic adjustments, such as dropping the quality of the video to compensate for poor connections, so that less bandwidth is required.

One way to think of bitrate is as a pipe through which water is flowing, with the water being your video content. The bigger the pipe, the higher the volume of water that can be transported at any given time.

What is the Best Bitrate for YouTube Streaming? 1

Why is Streaming Bitrate Different to Regular Video Bitrate?

When you watch a regular video, be it on YouTube, Netflix, Amazon Prime, or anywhere else that serves streamed video content, there are a few factors that make it different from streaming live content.

The Source is Fixed for Regular Video

When streaming a video from a server somewhere, the video is already made. It is a file on a server, and it’s not going to change size, vary in quality, suffer from processing issues due to a bogged down computer, or anything else that might change the requirements on the streaming platform. Having this stability at the source allows the streaming platform to be more refined with its methods, and squeeze more performance out of it without worrying about large margins of error.

Timing is Less Important in Regular Videos

For a standard YouTube video, YouTube is essentially at liberty to produce the video as quickly—or as slowly—as they like. Now, don’t get us wrong, if you had to sit and wait for forty seconds for the video you put on to actually start playing, you’d probably be a bit annoyed. The point is that YouTube can take a little extra time to load in the content, and they can even buffer the content (load ahead of where you are in the playback) so that they have some extra information to compensate for erratic connections.

With streaming, the content is expected to be as close to live as possible. With live content, buffering is far less useful because the content is being created in real time; you can’t load ahead! The only way to buffer a live stream is to delay it so that the viewers are behind the live content, which is frustrating for those live viewers. Especially if there is a live chat situation and the streamer is interacting with their viewers.

The Requirements on Your Computer are Lower for Regular Videos

One thing that many aspiring YouTubers overlook—at least until they find out the hard way—is just how intensive working with video is on a computer. In the early days of Blu-ray, many computer owners excitedly bought themselves a Blu-ray drive for their computer, only to find out the computer wasn’t powerful enough to play back Blu-ray content!

Streaming is much more intensive than merely playing back content, because your computer is not just processing the video, it is encoding it as well. When you export a regular video, your computer can take its time and let you know when it’s done. When you stream, your computer has to do the same thing but instantaneously.

Now, of course, there are differences between the two processes—streaming sacrifices some quality to ensure fast encoding times—but it should give you an idea of why streaming is so hard on a computer. Especially when you consider that there’s a good chance the streamer’s computer will be doing other things beside streaming, such as playing video games. Some streamers get around this by having an entirely separate computer dedicated to the streaming side of things, and doing their gaming on a different computer, but that’s obvious not an option for everybody.

So, how does this tie in to bitrates? Well, the higher the quality of the video, the higher the bitrate. You may find that your maximum bitrate is not limited by your connection, but by the power of your streaming computer.

Quality Can be Higher for Regular Videos

Because of the above points, the quality of a regular YouTube video can be quite high compared to a stream, with a typical streaming resolution being 720p, compared to the standard YouTube video resolution of 1080p, with 1440p and 4K beginning to show up more and more.

Of course, this will change as Internet connections become faster, more reliable, and more widespread. We are already at a point where 4K content is available on services like Netflix, which means there must be enough of a user-base able to stream 4K to make it worth those platform’s while to provide that content. And, if we’re streaming 4K video today, we will probably be live-streaming 4K video in the not-too distant future.

Finding the Best Bitrate

Assuming your computer is capable of processing the video that you are putting out, your only limitation on bitrate is your Internet connection or the destination platform. If you go by YouTube’s recommendations, you would be looking at a bitrate of 51,000 Kbps for the highest quality streaming they support—4K video at 60 frames per second, so it is unlikely your bitrate will ever need to be higher than that on YouTube. At least, not until they start supporting 8K streaming.

Since your bitrate is essentially a single-value representation of your video content as it is being transferred, you can tweak just about any setting to change the bitrate requirements of your video. For example, if you switch from 4K content to 1440p content, you are essentially halving the amount of information that needs to be sent because each frame is half as big.

There are more subtle changes you can make, such as lowering the frame rate from 60 frames per second to 30 frames per second, which once again will halve the amount of information being sent because there will be half as many frames. You can also change codecs to something with a more aggressive compression, or make smaller changes across the board to get an overall lower bitrate.

Is Screen Recording YouTube Illegal?

Visual Information

Methods of compressing video content are constantly evolving, and are increasingly effective in the streaming arena, but it is useful to understand a little about what is going on in this regard, so you know how the type of content you are filming can affect your bitrate.

We mentioned above that switching from 4K to 1440p essentially halves the amount of information you are sending; this technically not true. It would be true if the video was being sent raw and uncompressed, but video like that would be enormous and not practical for today’s Internet connections.

The basic concept of compressing video is that duplicate information is bundled together. An easy way to visualise this is with a list;

  • Black pixel
  • Black pixel
  • Black pixel
  • Black pixel
  • Black pixel

Our list tells us that there are five black pixels, but we can represent that more efficiently like this;

  • 5x black pixels

Compression does this to your video, finding information that can be bundled together so that it takes less space when it is transferred over the Internet.

This is why video that doesn’t have a lot going on requires less bitrate than video that is all action. If a streamer is sat talking in front of a static background, the compression algorithm can practically render half the screen “free” in terms of data costs because it is unchanging. On the other hand, if the streamer is playing a fast-paced game in full screen, every frame will be different, and there will be much less that can be compressed, increasing the necessary bitrate.

Final Thoughts

If you choose a preset for your stream, and it works, there is no pressing need to go optimising things for the lowest possible bitrate you can get away with. YouTube will take care of the variable side of things, and as long as your connection and computer are up to the task, your end will be fine.

That being said, if you do want to get under the hood and tweak your streaming settings, be sure to enlist the help of someone (or a few someones) to check your stream is playing how you hope before you go live with it.

Top 5 Tools To Get You Started on YouTube

Very quickly before you go here are 5 amazing tools I have used every day to grow my YouTube channel from 0 to 30K subscribers in the last 12 months that I could not live without.

1. VidIQ helps boost my views and get found in search

I almost exclusively switched to VidIQ from a rival in 2020.

Within 12 months I tripled the size of my channel and very quickly learnt the power of thumbnails, click through rate and proper search optimization. Best of all, they are FREE!

2. Adobe Creative Suite helps me craft amazing looking thumbnails and eye-catching videos

I have been making youtube videos on and off since 2013.

When I first started I threw things together in Window Movie Maker, cringed at how it looked but thought “that’s the best I can do so it’ll have to do”.

Big mistake!

I soon realized the move time you put into your editing and the more engaging your thumbnails are the more views you will get and the more people will trust you enough to subscribe.

That is why I took the plunge and invested in my editing and design process with Adobe Creative Suite. They offer a WIDE range of tools to help make amazing videos, simple to use tools for overlays, graphics, one click tools to fix your audio and the very powerful Photoshop graphics program to make eye-catching thumbnails.

Best of all you can get a free trial for 30 days on their website, a discount if you are a student and if you are a regular human being it starts from as little as £9 per month if you want to commit to a plan.

3. helps people read my videos

You can’t always listen to a video.

Maybe you’re on a bus, a train or sat in a living room with a 5 year old singing baby shark on loop… for HOURS. Or, you are trying to make as little noise as possible while your new born is FINALLY sleeping.

This is where Rev can help you or your audience consume your content on the go, in silence or in a language not native to the video. can help you translate your videos, transcribe your videos, add subtitles and even convert those subtitles into other languages – all from just $1.50 per minute.

A GREAT way to find an audience and keep them hooked no matter where they are watching your content.

4. PlaceIT can help you STAND OUT on YouTube

I SUCK at making anything flashy or arty.

I have every intention in the world to make something that looks cool but im about as artistic as a dropped ice-cream cone on the web windy day.

That is why I could not live on YouTube without someone like PlaceIT. They offer custom YouTube Banners, Avatars, YouTube Video Intros and YouTube End Screen Templates that are easy to edit with simple click, upload wizard to help you make amazing professional graphics in minutes.

Best of all, some of their templates are FREE! or you can pay a small fee if you want to go for their slightly more premium designs (pst – I always used the free ones).

5. StoryBlocks helps me add amazing video b-roll cutaways

I mainly make tutorials and talking head videos.

And in this modern world this can be a little boring if you don’t see something funky every once in a while.

I try with overlays, jump cuts and being funny but my secret weapon is b-roll overlay content.

I can talk about skydiving, food, money, kids, cats – ANYTHING I WANT – with a quick search on the StoryBlocks website I can find a great looking clip to overlay on my videos, keeping them entertained and watching for longer.

They have a wide library of videos, graphics, images and even a video maker tool and it wont break the bank with plans starting from as little as £8.25 ($9) per month.


How to Make Money on YouTube as a Gamer

Of all the niches that video streaming platforms like YouTube have either created or allowed to flourish, few can boast as much unprecedented growth as gaming.

Twitch may be the first name that comes to mind when you think about making gaming video content, but it is only very recently that YouTube began to compete with Twitch in the live streaming arena directly.

Even before that, YouTube acted as an excellent complementary platform for Twitch streamers to put highlight videos out on. Now, of course, YouTube is making moves of their own in the streaming world, which only increases the number of ways you can make money with gaming content on the platform.

The truth is, there are many ways to make money as a gaming YouTuber. Sponsorship, affiliate marketing, live stream super chats, superstickers, YouTube premieres, donations and directly selling services like direct gaming advice or multiplayer games where you join their fireteam in a co-op game –  and even a few ways to make money on YouTube with gaming content if you aren’t a gamer.

This post will cover more than just video ideas for gaming content. There are some interesting legal question marks over this niche that deserve mention.

So keep reading as we explore how to make money on YouTube as a gamer.

Affiliate marketing is one of the most powerful tools for any budding YouTuber or Twitch gamer looking to make money online but it an be full of jargon. That is why I wrote a deep dive into affiliate marketing for beginners to help you wade through all the confusing words and get you on the path to making money online fast – without any need to buy silly expensive courses.

How to Make Money on YouTube as a Gamer

Gaming Content and Monetisation

If you intend to make Let’s Play style videos, there is a question of rights ownership that may affect your ability to make money from your content. YouTube has its own policy on software and video game content, which essentially boil down to it being fine to monetise as long as there is commentary and instructional value that is associate with the video.

All of that is a wordy way of saying you can’t just have an hour of video game footage playing while you talk about something unrelated to the game, or don’t talk at all.

You won’t be prevented from making this kind of content, of course, but YouTube may demonetise it, which will put a major roadblock in your efforts to make money as a YouTube gamer.

The other thing to note in the legal realm of YouTube gaming is the policies of the companies behind the games themselves. Though they have since eased up on their draconian approach to gaming content, Nintendo has been an example of this for some time.

This is because they would routinely claim videos of their games through YouTube’s Content ID system, claiming the revenue those videos made.

Since then, Nintendo has adopted a more fan-friendly approach, instead issuing a set of guidelines that state more or less what YouTube’s own policies state—that you have to add commentary or creative input to the content. If you want to just upload straight video of Nintendo games, you have to do it using Nintendo’s own tools.

That being said, it is worth noting that Nintendo chose to soften their stance on this after negative feedback, but there is no legal impetus for them to do so, and nothing to stop them from going back to a more hostile approach in the future.

Of course, there are more than just the Nintendos, Sonys, and Microsofts of the world.

The Internet has fostered a vibrant independent game development scene, and many of the developers and publishers in that scene are more than happy to let YouTubers make content using their games as it brings more exposure to their product.

An excellent example of this can be found at Devolver Digital, a small game development studio who actively encourage people to make content using their games, and even have a page on their site where you can enter your channel name to get written permission.

How to Make Money on YouTube as a Gamer 1

Choosing Which Games to Make Content Around

Once you’ve made peace with the various legal hurdles surrounding intellectual property, there is the small matter of what kind of content you intend to make.

There are plenty of different types of gaming video you can make, and we’re going to list a lot of them shortly, including examples of each.

As with any attempt to create regular content—especially if you intend to make money from it, one of the best things you can do is play to your strengths. It will not only produce better content, but it will also make your life more comfortable since it is always less work to do something you are good at than it is to do something you struggle with.

As an example, let’s consider a personality-based YouTube gaming channel. This is a channel where the YouTuber themself is what draws the views because the subscribers like to watch that person specifically. With a channel like this, the YouTuber could theoretically play anything they wanted, and the views would still roll in.

But by playing to their strengths, they can make better content and attract more views than just those diehard fans who will tune in for anything.

Two examples we have picked out are PewDiePie and DrDisRespect. Both of these YouTubers are incredibly popular, and could probably make a video of them eating a sandwich and still get millions of views. Despite this, they have clear strengths in the video game niche.

For PewDiePie’s part, he greatly enhanced his popularity by playing horror games. It was his comical reactions to jump scares and tense moments that pushed his channel into the upper echelons of YouTube during his early days of making videos, something that he would not have been able to reproduce with a different genre of game.

This stage of PewDiePie’s YouTube career is an excellent example of playing to your strengths, as PewDiePie started out making video game commentaries, but it wasn’t until he started making horror game videos that his channel really took off.

In the case of DrDisRespect, as his name suggests, his gimmick is being disrespectful. Now, while he could be disrespectful while playing a casual, friendly game like Animal Crossing, it wouldn’t have quite the same impact as it does while playing competitive multiplayer shooters. DrDisRespect, for all his gimmicks, is a very good gamer and has plenty of opportunities to boast during his playthroughs.

There may be a bit of trial and error in finding your strengths, but it is a worthy goal to achieve, especially when you are just starting out.

Who knows, maybe PewDiePie would have just been another successful YouTuber with a few million followers had he not started making horror game videos, rather than the most successful individual YouTuber in the history of the platform.

Different Types of Gaming Content

Before you can play to your strengths, you need to know what kind of content there is a market for. Of course, it’s worth noting that there will always be rewards for those who can think outside of the box and be successful because of it.

What we are about to list are established types of gaming content with proven popularity. We are not saying these are the only options if you want to make gaming content.

Unfortunately, if you want to blaze new trails, you will be on your own on that journey. After all, it wouldn’t be trailblazing if there was a post like this one telling you how to do it!

Straight Playthroughs

These are the kinds of videos that companies like Nintendo won’t allow you to monetise, so you will have to think carefully about what games you intend to make your videos around if you choose this path.

With a platform as big as YouTube, there is an audience for just about everything, including watching games being played. Sometimes it is merely a desire to watch the narrative in some of the more cinematic games, other times it is a gamer wanting to see parts of the game they missed but are not prepared to play the game again. With enormous open-world games like Fallout 4 and Grand Theft Auto V, it is easy to miss a lot of the content available to you. It can even be people who can’t play a particular game for one reason or another but still want to see it.

If you choose this style of gaming video, you will want to make sure you are offering something to the viewer. If you are showing the cinematics, don’t have 3 hours of regular gameplay in between.

Gameplay With Commentary

You may have seen these videos labelled as Let’s Play videos in the past. These videos involve the YouTuber playing through a game while talking about it. Videos like this will often have the YouTuber’s face in the video so the viewers can see their reactions.

This is by far the most popular kind of gaming content on YouTube, and both of the above examples of PewDiePie and DrDisRespect fall into this category.


If you are a particularly talented gamer, there is a whole niche around the ability to complete video games as quickly as possible. There is no limitation in terms of the game, with everything from retro platformers to huge open-world role-playing games being completed in ludicrously short spaces of time.

One example of this kind of channel can be found in GarishGoblin, who may not have that many subscribers, but has been able to amass millions of views with various speedruns in the Halo franchise.

Comedy Videos

Comedy gaming videos can come in several forms. One of the more famous examples is Red Vs Blue, a series on the Rooster Teeth Animation channel that features comedy sketches acted out using the Halo video game franchise.

Another example is SovietWomble, who creates highlight videos from his streams, often with humorous edits and effects to enhance the final product.

These types of videos are considerably more work in terms of editing when compared to something like a commentary video. On the other hand, they require less skill at actual gaming, which makes them an excellent option for people who enjoy gaming but aren’t necessarily that good at it.

Update Videos

Update videos could take the form of a general roundup of gaming news; however, that would be a competitive niche to enter, and one that would contain several media outlets. Success may be more attainable with a model like that employed by the YouTuber, ShadowFrax.

ShadowFrax makes videos detailing the latest updates surrounding the game, Rust, an open-world multiplayer survival game that is continually getting new content and updates from the developers. T

here are hundreds of popular games in active development, and finding one that you like and focusing your content on that could be an excellent way to create gaming content.

How to Make Games

This option is a little less attainable for your average YouTuber, but if you have the ability, making videos on how to make certain popular games may be a good option, as demonstrated by small YouTuber, b3agz, whose videos on how to make Minecraft and 7 Days to Die have amassed hundreds of thousands of views despite only having a few thousand subscribers.

Of course, you don’t necessarily need to create full step-by-step tutorials in the way that b3agz does; you could make videos analysing game mechanics, or talking about the methods behind certain aspects of the game. There has never been a better time to be providing resources for game developers, with game development being more popular now than at any point in its history.

How to Make Money on YouTube as a Gamer Conclusions

Ultimately, the key to making money on YouTube as a gamer—or as anything else, for that matter—is to make good content that people want to watch.

Granted, you must navigate the hurdles we mentioned above regarding intellectual property rights, but once you have done that, the first thing you should be focussing on is your content.

If you make good content, your chances of succeeding on YouTube—and making money as a result of that success—will be significantly improved. And, while we can’t guarantee a good video will make you money, we can say with confidence that a lousy video won’t make you money.

Or, perhaps more accurately, it could make you money, but it will be a short term thing that could damage your earning potential in the long run, as your channel will get a reputation for poor content, both in the eyes of the viewers and of YouTube itself.