When Microsoft decided to shut down Mixer in July, it effectively left the game streaming world in a three-horse race, with Twitch and YouTube in the lead and Facebook Gaming a distant third. Smaller platforms like Caffeine aside, the big trifecta is vying to attract star talent. After reaping the rewards of his Mixer deal (estimated to be upwards of $30 million) Tyler “Ninja” Blevins has signed a new, multi-year exclusive deal with Twitch, where he has over 15 million followers. The news broke less than a month after fellow former Mixer streamers Michael “Shroud” Grzesiek and Soleil “Ewok” Wheeler also signed exclusively with Twitch.
The significant investment into star streaming talent not only brings more viewers to the platforms writing the checks, but with higher numbers the ecosystem is more likely to draw greater advertising and sponsorship opportunities from both endemics and non-endemics. In fact, Twitch is currently testing mid-roll ads among its nearly 4 million streamers worldwide. The influx of marketing has a domino effect, as the top content creators also have the ability to grow their personal brands. Shroud, for example, has recently launched his own branded line of Logitech gaming accessories. Twitch is looking to capitalize on its momentum in esports. Not only did the company launch a dedicated esports directory earlier in the year, but it recently unveiled an end-to-end suite of tools called Twitch Versus, designed to help competition organizers, streamers, and players manage broadcasts and communities.
Facebook Gaming hasn’t seen the same level of interest from streamers as Twitch, but the platform did recently sign seven-time Apex Legends champion Richard “KingRichard” Nelson. Moreover, in a bid to lure more content creators to the platform, Facebook also signed multiple deals with major music labels across 90 countries so that streamers can use music during their broadcasts without worrying about copyright infringement. As for YouTube Gaming, Google’s platform has been making fewer moves of late but started 2020 with a bang, as it signed Activision Blizzard’s esports exclusively, followed by a deal with PewDiePie, who has 104 million subscribers.
Interest in game streaming and esports has been on the rise all year long, and with more people staying home due to the pandemic, the impact has been noticeable. Interpret’s NMM: Global Profiles® shows a significant bump in game streaming – among connected teens and adults aged 13-65 – during COVID lockdowns in the US, UK, Australia, and elsewhere. Streaming & Broadcasting is one of several trends Interpret will be monitoring in its Esports Replay® research series.