Competition breeds innovation. Microsoft vs PlayStation. Google Stadia vs xCloud. Twitch vs Mixer, and so many more battles we could throw around in this article. It is without a doubt that we need competition in the gaming area. It brings out the best in our technology, in our experiences as gamers, and much more. Look at what video games developers have done for Hollywood. The wildly popular The Mandalorian on Disney+ had Jon Favreau use video game technologies to bring that extra movie magic to the show. Competition breeds innovation. This includes streaming platforms. So, let’s dive in and talk Twitch, Mixer, YouTube Gaming, Facebook Gaming, and their futures.
In April, Streamlabs and Stream Hatchet published data on all the streaming platforms. Let’s take a look at some of that data, which also includes Q1 2020.
As expected, Twitch is still dominating the total hours watched in Q1 holding the lions share at 65% or 3,114.1M people. With the COVID-19 pandemic, there are more people than even trying to fill downtime while complying with stay-at-home orders, and many people are turning to watching streams. This has allowed Twitch to reach all-time highs in both hours watched and hours streamed.
A few points made on the Streamlabs blog post:
- Twitch reached all-time highs for both hours watched, hours streamed and average CCV
- Twitch surpassed 3 billion hours watched on the platform for the first time
- The average CCV on YouTube Gaming Live is at an all-time high, increasing by 15.5% since the previous quarter
- Year-over-year, Facebook Gaming experienced massive increases; hours watched tripled, hours streamed doubled, average CCV quadrupled
- More users are streaming on Mixer than Facebook Gaming and YouTube Gaming combined. Mixer also had the second most hours streamed trailing only behind Twitch
- Each platform experienced a significant increase in the number of hours watched from February to March
It is good to see that even though we are all stuck in a bad situation right now streaming platforms are seeing a boom. Users increased on all platforms with Mixer pulling in the second most hours streamed. As far as platform growth the numbers are the following from February to March.
My biggest takeaway from this is that Mixer’s hours watched grew 14.9% from February to March even if the quarter as a whole saw a decrease. One of the problems many streamers have had with Mixer is there are just not enough people watching on that particular platform, so to have an almost 15% increase is great for Mixer; and add to that Mixer has more users streaming on that their platform that Facebook and YouTube combined is a good trend. However, as we will discuss later, overall Mixer has had a decrease in the total hours watched even with big names like Ninja and Shroud joining the Mixer platform.
YouTube & Facebook Gaming
What is going to be interesting to watch is just how much the numbers will drop as the stay-at-home orders are lifted. A lot of the Q1 increase can easily be attributed to the number of people stuck at home with the COVID pandemic.
Going back to total hours streamed we saw a major dip with YouTube Gaming but a major increase in the number of viewers on the platform. So, even though YouTube Gaming had a 14% increase in hours streamed they are still below what was reported at the end of 2019. So, it seems to be a situation where there might be a little less saturation from a streamer to viewers’ standpoint than on a platform like Twitch.
Facebook Gaming has seen increases across the board with a year over year growth of 131.5%.
- 33% increase in unique channels
- 23% increase in concurrent viewers
- 11% increase in hours streamed
Mixer & Twitch
While Mixer seems to be trailing behind other platforms they still have a lot of dedicated streamers on their platform and a slight increase in hours streamed. Here are a few of the Q1 numbers from Mixer.
- 7.3% decrease in hours watched
- 1.2% increase in hours streamed
- 4.1% increase in unique channels
- 5.3% decrease in concurrent viewership
Some of these numbers are a little misleading. While there is an increase in unique channels and hours streamed, the overall numbers are still down compared to their peak in Q1 2019.
As I stated above, some of the numbers for Q1 don’t paint the full picture on Mixer. This is a trend you do not want to see on a streaming platform. Twitch on the other hand has seen an all-time high, and granted some of these Q1 numbers are probably over-inflated due to previously mentioned stay-at-home orders with COVID-19. More people home translates to more viewers.
- 17% increase in hours watched
- 20% increase in hours streamed
- 33.3% increase in unique channels
Here is a look at Twitch number since Q1 2018:
As you can see, Twitch was trending down on concurrent viewers toward the tail end of 2019 but has skyrocketed since COVID. The same can be said for new channels and hours streamed. The whole epidemic seemed to be the shot in the arm that Twitch needed as their numbers were starting to tread downward in almost all categories in 2019.
So, after all this data what does this mean? Let’s take a look at each platform and what I think lies in their futures.
With Twitch we don’t really know what their trajectory would look like since we had the whole COVID epidemic. The numbers for unique channels and hours streamed was trending downward while average viewership had a dip at the end of 2019. We really won’t ever know if those numbers would have continued to trend in that direction or if they would have leveled off somewhat. But, what we do know is that Twitch seems to be the preferred viewing platform. When the stay-at-home orders started going into effect, the Twitch numbers skyrocketed. Having the Twitch app so accessible on so many different platforms makes it easy to find and watch other streamers. They also have a reputation, for good or bad, as being the more seasoned streaming platform. More tools for streams that have been fleshed out, and more brand awareness. If you are thinking of making a move to Twitch just understand it won’t be an easy road. Lots more streams to compete with, but you do have a lot more people watching streams on Twitch. Lots of potential but also a somewhat saturated platform. In the end, Twitch is the king of streaming platforms as far as raw data.
I was hoping to see better things from Mixer. With all of that Microsoft money behind them, and adding big-time streamers like Gothalion, Shroud, Ninja, Ewok, and more, we would have all hoped to see a major surge in people coming to the platform. The data does show areas for optimism but Mixer only had a 2% growth as a platform for the quarter. With these big names, you would have thought surely Mixer could lure more people to watch streams on the platform? That doesn’t seem to be the case. We have also seen the number of viewers watching on Shroud and Ninja tank. The initial rush came over with the big streams but has seemed to die down. It’s disheartening to see Ninja streaming to 6k or 8K people instead of around 20-30K people when he was on Twitch.
I happened upon this video as well and there is some interesting stuff from both Ninja and Shroud about Mixer’s future plans for the platform.
While I find the information interesting I don’t quite know if making moves this late in the game after bringing on Ninja and Shroud would have helped all that much. The numbers were already trending poorly even with big names and the growth is all but at a snail’s pace. As a whole, a 2% growth for a platform with a name like Microsoft attached to it doesn’t look hopeful. Maybe Mixer can make a major come back? Either way, we need Mixer to step it up. Competition breeds innovation. Look what Mixer FTL forced Twitch to do. Twitch had to compete with Mixer FTL and came up with a low latency option. We as streamers need Mixer to succeed to keep the innovation alive and moving forward.
YouTube could be a real competitor for Twitch. YouTube recently signed a major deal with Activision for exclusive e-sports rights. This is a big deal. YouTube already has the infrastructure for streaming since it is a video streaming platform, and if they can tweak the user interface it could be major competition for Twitch. Having Call of Duty and Overwatch e-sport events streamed exclusively on this platform will drive a lot of users to the platform and you could make the assumption that some of those users could become YouTube Gaming streamers as well. Even though Twitch still has a massive lead on YouTube Gaming as far as total overall hours watched per platform this deal could make a big dent in that lead. YouTube Gaming is setting itself up for a pretty bright future.
Facebook is also seeing a big increase in people coming to the platform. Even signing former Mixer streamer Siefe. Facebook is also making moves, much like YouTube Gaming in the streaming world and their numbers are going up. However, it’s hard to tell where those live viewing numbers are coming from. Is it counting people casually scrolling through their video feed or are these people that are actively watching the stream? We probably won’t ever know for sure since Facebook will probably never share that information with us. The one thing, in my opinion, that is stopping Facebook is its user interface and using your real names while in-stream chats. Not to mention I have no idea how to browse a directory for Facebook streamers. The user-friendliness is not great at the moment. I think if the UI can be updated to be something more people are familiar with in terms of Mixer or Twitch it could really take off even more. Facebook isn’t as saturated as a platform like Twitch and could offer some real opportunities with large audiences available to streamers.
Takeaway – And My Opinion
So, what is a streamer to do with all the data?
Facebook Gaming I think is the new bright and shiny of video game streaming. I don’t know how successful it will be in the long run. It has a lot of money to back it, much like Mixer with Microsoft, but that doesn’t always equal success. Take the horrible user interface and having to use your personal name, unless you take it upon yourself to create a gaming page to watch a stream, it is just not very user friendly. It will hang around because it is Facebook, but I just don’t know how competitive it will be in the long run. I’m looking forward to seeing what becomes of the Facebook Gaming platform.
Mixer has to be in desperation mode. In the above video, I can almost feel the confidence of Ninja and Shroud slipping away. And as Ninja said they have missed some major opportunities. They have quality streamers and communities there but are struggling to grow and get more eyeballs on streamers. Can you be successful on Mixer? Yes, I think you can, but I believe without growth any streamer is going to hit a plateau. There just isn’t enough eyeballs on the platform to allow streams to have 10-15k viewers per stream. Look at Ninja, for example, arguably one of the most popular streamers in the world with over 3 million followers on Mixer but cannot pull large viewing numbers as he did on Twitch (outside of major gaming events or tournaments).
Even though Mixer has more users than YouTube Gaming and Facebook Gaming combined it still grew only 2% compared to Facebook at 10.59% and YouTube at 21.94% in Q4 2019. SteamTV grew 1.43% Q4 2019 which is almost as much as Mixer. That is just unacceptable for Mixer. They really need to promote the platform more and educate the general population on who or what they are. If I’ve had to explain to people that Mixer isn’t an Xbox only streaming platform or that it’s a streaming platform at all, even after the Ninja move; there is something wrong there. As a Mixer refugee who moved to Twitch, I can tell you Mixer needs to do something and soon. And after doing some more digging into stats from Twitch Statistics, which tracks both platforms, and even though Mixer is a smaller platform it is more saturated than Twitch. For every one streamer on Twitch, there are 22-23 viewers, and for every one streamer on Mixer, there are 3.2 viewers. I believe Mixer is more of a hobby streamer platform right now. The data is not favoring them, and Microsoft has to start making some moves if they want to keep mixer relevant.
YouTube is really setting itself up to be the big Twitch competitor. A big exclusive streaming deal for Overwatch and Call of Duty is another reason they came to play ball. It is also owned by the largest search engine in the world, Google. Holy discoverability Batman! Not to mention the data above shows the hours watched are going up, the concurrent viewership is going up while having fewer users. This gives streamers a lot of potential. A smaller pool of streamers to sift through, more viewers, and more hours watched? If I was an exclusive COD or Overwatch streamer I’d give serious consideration to switching to YouTube Gaming. We already know because of the above-mentioned deal that viewers who want to watch gameplay for COD and Overwatch will be on the platform. This really tilts the hand in your favor as a streamer.
Twitch is still king, but being the king still has its downfalls. We saw that Twitch was bleeding users, viewers, and more right before COVID hit. Most probably making the move to other platforms for on the promise of easier discoverability. The dream of quick success and rapid growth on Mixer, or a payout to Facebook Gaming. Either way, Twitch has to do something to keep trending in the right direction. One big step to that was resigning DrDisrespect, Dakotaz, and Summit1g. All three have massive viewerships and Twitch keeping them on their platform was a good thing. The next thing I’d like to see them do is to become a little more streamer friendly. Twitch could take a play out of the Mixer playbook for co-streaming. Yes, Twitch does have that but right now only one person gets the analytics rather than both streamers. So, if you have a really fun co-stream and end up with over 100 people in your stream only the person who started the co-stream will have the analytics count toward their stream. So, co-streaming just isn’t worth it right now on Twitch. I’d also like to see more tools for middle to smaller streamer discoverability. Twitch is still a big ocean and we are little fish trying to be found.
My final thought on this is that streaming has become a new sport. Streaming and streamers are receiving more and more credibility as the years go on. In a way, if you are a streamer you are a free agent. Free to do what is best for you in your free agency. Does that mean you sign a big deal for Mixer to get paid? Well, if it is what you need while in free agency do it. Move to Twitch from Mixer for more eyeballs? Do it. Whatever you do with this data I hope you do what is right for you and your stream. Always think about where you want to be in five years and where you are now. If that platform doesn’t fit your needs, then take action. Keep grinding, keep growing, and remember when in doubt… BLOW IT UP MHG style!