Microsoft abruptly shutting down Mixer back in June has ended up as a boon for Amazon’s Twitch platform.
That’s according to a new report from Stream Hatchet and Streamlabs, which found that Twitch is now the host for more than 91% of streaming content. At the same time, while the overall audience for livestreaming has shrunk slightly from its all-time high back in April, Twitch’s popularity has nonetheless exploded during the pandemic, with nearly double the audience that it had at this time last year.
Independent data analyses in the streaming market focus on tracking hours watched to indicate a platform’s popularity with its audience. Relatively few take hours streamed — the amount of content being produced for that audience — into account. What makes the Streamlabs/Stream Hatchet report interesting is that it does track the latter, and it makes it look a lot like most of the ex-Mixer streamers have ended up landing on Twitch.
In the second quarter of 2020, before its closure, Mixer represented 14.2% of all hours livestreamed. In the third quarter, Twitch’s hours livestreamed grew by 14.5%, to an overall 91.1% share of outgoing content. While it strains credulity to argue that everyone who was making content on Mixer went to Twitch — Facebook Gaming’s own amount of hours streamed went up by 1%, which suggests that Microsoft successfully got at least a couple of its streamers to migrate — Twitch’s 14.5% increase is a massive spike that doesn’t have any other useful explanation.
At the end of last year, the story of the streaming platform market was a four-way race between Amazon’s Twitch, Google’s YouTube Gaming, Facebook Gaming, and Microsoft’s Mixer. Most analyses of the streaming market measure its audience in terms of hours watched overall, and by that metric, all four competitors had a relatively healthy share of the overall market.
Twitch was way out ahead of the pack at the end of 2019, with a solid 61% of hours watched, but Mixer, Facebook, and YouTube had all expanded their audiences. Mixer was in a distant fourth place, but it was growing, in no small part due to Microsoft’s exclusivity deals with the popular video game streamers Ninja and Shroud.
Microsoft pulled the plug on Mixer this summer, citing a lack of the time and focus needed to continue to grow the platform (which is hard not to read as “we can’t make this work and put out the Xbox Series X in the same year without botching at least one of them”), and has generally tried to throw the entire project as far down the memory hole as possible. The tech giant has made efforts to shift Mixer’s audience and streamers over to its partner Facebook Gaming, but it’s been difficult to tell how successful those efforts have been until now.
Twitch also has a commanding lead among the number of unique channels on the platform, with a little over 10.5 million compared to 912,880 on YouTube Gaming Live and 267,845 on Facebook. As of now, nine out of every ten people, groups, or companies who are producing any kind of livestreamed broadcast at all, including the returning Ninja and Shroud, are doing so via Twitch.
That doesn’t necessarily translate to audience engagement. Twitch still has a solid lead over its competition there, with 63.6% of the market (4.74 billion hours watched), but YouTube has 22.5% and Facebook has 14%. YouTube also saw rapid overall growth between quarters, with an additional 156 million hours watched in Q3 over Q2, and Facebook Gaming rose above 1 billion hours watched for the first time.
Overall, Twitch comes off like someone in its upper echelons has made a wish on a monkey’s paw. It’s never had more streamers, attention, or viewers, but it’s consistently stayed at a roughly 61% audience share for the entirety of this year. It’s a much bigger audience, with 70% more hours watched in Q3 2020 vs. Q3 2019, but Twitch still only has 60-ish percent of it.
Twitch inheriting Mixer’s on-air talent could set the stage for that to change in the fourth quarter, however, as could the coming debut of the Twitch-integrated cloud gaming service Amazon Luna. Both of Twitch’s major remaining competitors, however, have displayed a strange knack for growing just quickly enough, during this period of the streaming audience’s overall explosive growth, to keep Twitch’s audience share in roughly the same place.
The data comes courtesy of Stream Hatchet, based in Barcelona, a data analytics firm that specializes in gathering information on the games industry via tracking information from streaming sites. It was circulated via the official blog for Streamlabs, a San Francisco-based company that specializes in providing specialized broadcast software for streamers.
It may be worth taking the data with a grain of salt. Streamlabs is owned by the Swiss firm Logitech, which is known for its line of computer peripherals such as mice and keyboards, and Logitech is heavily invested in esports, sponsorships, and streaming hardware. While the conclusions from the Stream Hatchet/Streamlabs report don’t draw any wildly different conclusions from other available analyses, it’s still the product of a company that’s visibly got a lot to gain from the continued expansion of the streaming market.