Tyler “Ninja” Blevins announced earlier this month that he’s no longer bound exclusively to Twitch, where he has over 18 million followers. As one of the veterans of the streaming world who’s gained mainstream attention (he was on the cover of ESPN The Magazine in 2018), Ninja is now leveraging his massive popularity to stream anywhere he pleases – which is currently YouTube, TikTok, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitch.
“When you sign an exclusivity contract, it’s usually a big fat check that’s tied to it. That’s guaranteed money, that’s sustainability, that’s comfortable. But right now, I’m basically on my own,” he commented while playing Fortnite on his first multi-platform stream.
It’s a big bet on himself, and it’s an opportunity that might not be feasible for other content creators. Twitch modified its restrictions on partners last month, allowing them to stream to both TikTok and Instagram, but they’re still not permitted to do so on Twitch’s biggest rivals, YouTube and Facebook. Because most Twitch streamers don’t earn as much money or command the viewership of someone like Ninja, bypassing exclusivity is a tough ask. Those who do have huge followings, like xQc (former Overwatch pro Felix Lengyel) – who has over 11 million Twitch followers – immediately praised Ninja’s decision, noting that “multi-streaming is absolutely the future.”
In the world of esports and streaming, Twitch, YouTube, and others have been battling to sign the top influencers and content creators with the biggest followings who can typically generate millions of dollars in revenues for their respective platforms. In recent years, we’ve seen CourageJD, Valkyrae, Dr Disrespect, Dr Lupo, Ludwig, TimTheTatman, FaZe Swagg, and more all leave Twitch for YouTube. The moves thus far haven’t hurt Twitch as much as you would think, and Twitch’s total hours watched still dwarf those of the competition, according to Streamlabs.
As Ninja continues to fine tune his strategy as he pushes across the streaming landscape, it’ll be interesting to see what types of content receive the most attention. According to Interpret’s New Media Measure®, game matches that aren’t part of a tournament are even more popular than general gaming content videos. That’s certainly a format that Ninja excels at – his most viewed stream ever (667,000 concurrent viewers) came when he played against rapper Drake in Fortnite in 2018.
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