State of streaming: Twitch’s new growth category; the Ninja effect on Mixer; ‘Fortnite’ viewership down

(GeekWire Photo)

Amazon-owned Twitch still dominates the streaming space; Ninja’s move to Mixer hasn’t helped Microsoft with user growth; Fortnite viewership is dropping; and a non-gaming related category is gaining popularity.

Those are some of the takeaways from a third-quarter streaming market report from StreamElements, an Israeli company that advertises itself as the “Ultimate Streamer Platform.” The report, made in conjunction with independent Twitch analysis site SullyGnome and influencer data tracking service, goes into detail regarding the audience, platforms, content, and individual stars of the streaming scene from this past July, August, and September.

There are four major players in streaming: Twitch, YouTube Gaming, Facebook Gaming, and Mixer. Of the four, Twitch represented approximately 75.6 percent of the overall market in Q3, as measured by hours watched, which marks a 3 percent growth over its numbers in the second quarter.

Notably, while Twitch is best-known for its gaming channels, “Just Chatting” is the fastest-growing category on the site, which is growing four times faster than Twitch itself. Just Chatting streams, listed under the IRL tag, are dedicated to simple conversations between streamers and their viewers, with no requirement for a gaming focus. In Q3 of 2019, chatting streams on Twitch, which can encompass simple audience QAs, cooking, fitness training, improvised talk shows, or more, provided almost 200 million hours of content.

Twitch makes up just over three-fourths of the entirety of the modern streaming audience in 2019. (Source: StreamElements)

Microsoft’s Mixer service takes up 3.2 percent of the overall streaming market, which puts it in fourth place overall, with 29.6 million hours of content watched by its audience in the month of September. August’s well-publicized exclusivity deal with Richard “Ninja” Blevins didn’t create more than a blip in the overall audience for Mixer (with 40-plus million hours watched in August), but had a “huge impact” in overall brand visibility thanks to the media coverage of the deal, the report noted.

Microsoft on Monday doubled down on its investment in Mixer by announcing the debut of Mixer Academy, an online training course meant to help users “learn the tools of the trade.” Pitched towards newcomers and beginners, you can jump onto tracks on Mixer Academy designed to help you become a Streamer, Power User, or Moderator, complete with unlockable badges for your profile.

For video games in the streaming space, the big winner of the third quarter was Blizzard’s World of Warcraft. The streaming audience for WoW jumped 117 percent to third place following the launch of its Classic mode. A classic WoW server runs a version of the game as it was in 2006 (version 1.12.1), without any of the content, features, or updates from later expansions.

The popularity of WoW Classic has also propelled WoW streamer “Asmongold,” based in Austin, Texas, to a commanding lead over his competitors as the No. 1 most-watched streamer on Twitch in September 2019, and for Q3 overall.

The top 10 games for streaming audiences in Q3 2019. (Source: StreamElements)

Conversely, while Epic Games’ Fortnite held onto its spot as the No. 1 game among streaming audiences, it suffered an overall 20 percent drop in hours watched in Q3. This follows an overall trend for Fortnite in 2019, where both its audience and the number of streamers playing it have progressively declined from its height in Q2 2018.

However, October will see the launch of Fortnite Season 11, which is likely to provide the game with a substantial boost.

Fornite has been in the headlines this week after the in-game event Season X paid off on months of build-up with the sudden development of a singularity underneath the in-game location Loot Lake. Players, the island itself, and even Fortnite’s UI were all abruptly sucked into a black hole.

Fortnite is totally offline at time of writing, and its social media accounts have largely gone dark, fueling a viral marketing campaign that surrounds the beginning of the new season. In theory, the black hole will eventually reverse and spit out a brand-new island for another season of battle-royale shenanigans, if not more and stranger things.

Other big streaming winners in Q3 of 2019 included Minecraft, which jumped into the top 10 streaming games for the first time this year. Presumably, this has a lot to do with hype that surrounded the multiple big announcements at this year’s MineCon Live, including the augmented-reality mobile game Minecraft Earth, the opening cinematic for the forthcoming Minecraft Dungeons action-RPG, and the first Minecraft board game, Builders Biomes.

Valve’s Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and Defense of the Ancients 2 both also saw big boosts in their streaming audience, sitting at No. 6 and No. 7 in Q3 respectively. Conversely, Rockstar’s Grand Theft Auto V sank two spots to No. 5, while PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds stayed remarkably steady at No. 10.

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