Game streaming report: ‘Just Chatting’ category takes over Twitch; Facebook Gaming sees growth

(GeekWire Photo)

The quickly-growing audience for streaming sites has continued to embrace the “Just Chatting” category, which overtook more games-oriented programming on Twitch for the first time last month. This continues an overall trend on Twitch toward content diversification, as non-gaming content on the platform has grown steadily over the course of the last two years.

The new findings come from the latest “State of the Stream” report from StreamElements, produced in conjunction with analytics firm StreamElements’s main focus is producing broadcast tools for streamers such as overlays, spam filters, and revenue reports, but its streaming reports also provide useful information about the demographics and trends in the market.

While gameplay still makes up the vast majority of the content broadcast via Twitch, the “Just Chatting” category — a catch-all term that encompasses anything from candid conversation to reality programming — took the top spot by a comfortable margin overall in December. While the category has been on the rise for the last couple of months, this was the first time that it’s actually achieved No. 1 overall for a tracked period on the platform.

“Just Chatting” was the most-watched programming on Twitch in December 2019. (Source: StreamElements)

The No. 1 streamer for the fourth quarter of 2019, both in the “Just Chatting” category and overall, was the controversial former Overwatch pro Félix “xQc” Lengyel, who mostly creates “reaction” videos: Lengyel watches fan-created content and provides running commentary thereof.

The rest of the top five “Just Chatting” streamers in December were “Kitboga,” an American streamer who specializes in “scambaiting” videos; TrainwrecksTV, an American Counter-Strike player who also runs what could best be summarized as a “variety” channel; Hong Kong-based streamer shuteye_orange; and Rajj Patel, who runs talent and reality shows via his Twitch channel.

Another conclusion from StreamElements’s latest report, which covers the fourth quarter of 2019, is that Facebook Gaming is on the rise. While it’s still in a distant third place in the overall streaming market, behind Amazon’s Twitch and YouTube Gaming, Facebook’s streaming platform has enjoyed a 210 percent increase in year-over-year growth from where it was in December of 2018. This brings its overall market share up to 8.5 percent from 3.1 percent.

Microsoft’s Mixer remained in fourth place with a 2.6 percent market share.

While Facebook still has a relatively small share of the overall streaming market, it’s grown substantially in just one year. (StreamElements Image)

Facebook’s growth has been fueled by a handful of new streamers, more frequent broadcasts, and a reported increased interest in the streamers who already used the service. This was further boosted by Facebook signing several high-profile established streamers to go exclusive on its platform, such as Corinna Kopf, Hearthstone player Jeremy “DisguisedToast” Wang, and Smash Brothers pro Gonzalo “ZeRo” Barrios.

While Twitch’s overall share of the streaming market has been steadily diminishing over the course of the year, from 67.1 percent in December of 2018 to 61 percent at the end of the 2019, the steady growth of the overall market means that the overall amount of content watched on the service has done nothing but increase. StreamElements’s estimate for overall viewership, based on total hours watched, concludes that the industry grew by around 12 percent overall in 2019.

If there’s a general theme in the year’s data so far across streaming platforms, it’s toward escalation. The last half of 2019 was punctuated with many of the largest personalities being courted like rock stars by big companies, and many have signed up for exclusive deals for specific platforms. Twitch seems comfortably in the overall lead for now, but as the appetite for livestreamed content grows, its competitors continue to expand, and Twitch’s content lineup continues to diversify, the market is changing a little faster than anyone expected.

The December top-ten list for games streamed on Twitch featured two new arrivals, Path of Exile and Escape from Tarkov. While PoE’s rise in viewers can readily be explained by a brand-new expansion, Conquerors of the Atlas, the story behind Escape from Tarkov is more interesting.

Tarkov is an online first-person shooter, made in Unity by a Russian studio, which has been in open beta for the last two years. Due to a promotion where Tarkov players could earn in-game rewards by watching streams of the game on Twitch, it enjoyed a huge boost in viewership numbers practically overnight on the last week of 2019. This was part of a big blitz by the game’s developers, BattleState Games, to advertise the launch of a big new content patch for the game… which has also had the side effect of inadvertently drawing attention to some of the studio’s more controversial decisions.

It’s not unusual for Twitch to play the role of tastemaker – there are a lot of hit games in the last few years that wouldn’t have been anywhere near as successful without streamers as an informal advertising brigade, not least of which is Fortnite – but with Escape from Tarkov, its role has been more overt and direct than usual. Expect more promotional deals like this one, going forward.

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