Until the last few months Twitch has often been regarded as the livestreaming king. While other platforms have begun to spring up over recent years, including Mixer, Caffeine and Dlive, as well as YouTube Gaming, it’s only recently that they’ve started to really build momentum.
Little by little smaller creators have been moving platforms, often seeking out new audiences and new features. Mostly it went largely unnoticed - until a couple of big names made the leap, with the most recent one being Ninja.
These moves feel like warning shots, fired at the start of what is likely to be a livestreaming war.
Big Names, Big Moves
While Tyler “Ninja” Blevins’ moving to Mixer after 7 years on Twitch is big news right now, he’s not the first household name to make a platform switch.
Back in April of this year YouTube phenomenon PewDiePie, who is locked in a seemingly endless battle with T-Series to be the most subscribed channel on the platform, partnered with Dlive and began to stream more regularly.
Prior to this he streamed infrequently on YouTube Gaming, never seemingly to commit to even a vague schedule. While he has streamed more often since making the change, his schedule is still lighter than most, likely due to his continued focus on YouTube.
Nevertheless he has amassed over 424000 followers on the little known platform, something which Dlive will no doubt be happy with.
While Terry Crews is not known for livestreaming, the Brooklyn Nine Nine star is well known as an actor, activist, artist, former NFL player and gamer. He also plays Commander Jaxon in Crackdown 3.
Earlier this year he opened up in an interview with ScreenRant and lent his support to Twitch rival Caffeine, saying that Twitch “can just be really, really toxic at times.” Ouch.
Ninja’s move is the most high profile of the group, due to the fact that he is one of the most successful streamers on Twitch. While his channel was recently stunted in terms of growth, Ninja’s statistics are still impressive and his name is well known, even to those who never watch his channel.
No doubt Microsoft is hoping that Ninja’s presence on their Mixer platform will bring over a sizeable chunk of those fans, raising both money and awareness of the platform itself.
The move is a headline maker and due to the length of time Ninja has faithfully streamed on Twitch, a massive 7 years, his endorsement of a rival platform carries a lot of weight.
This is the biggest move yet and a sure sign that the livestreaming wars have truly begun.
Twitch Vs Mixer
While there is a steady trickle of streamers going to platforms such as Caffeine and Dlive, the biggest rivalry by far is between Twitch and Mixer. The battle feels like Epic Vs Steam all over again.
The move to bring Ninja over to Mixer has echoes of the Epic Games Store’s situation, when they began throwing money at studios to gain exclusive distribution rights for big name titles.
Both Steam and Epic Games have deep pockets, something which is also reminiscent of Amazon and Microsoft, the owners of Twitch and Mixer respectively. If this plays out in the same way we may well soon see more Twitch streamers making the leap.
According to statistics gathered by Streamlabs, in Q4 of 2018 Twitch had 1.76 million quaterly active streamers and Mixer had just 69.2 thousand.
However, when we look at the most recent report from Q1 of 2019 there is some good news for Mixer.
While hours watched on Twitch increased 7%, with a 33% year over year increase, Mixer's percentages are much higher. Mixer viewing figures increased by 36%, a massive 266% year over year increase.
Despite hours streamed on the platform remaining stagnant, Mixer has also experienced a 336% increase in viewership year over year.
The statistics show that Mixer is still trailing behind both Twitch and YouTube Gaming, but moves like their recent acquisition of Ninja could change all that.
Mixer is a solid platform but needs more viewers. Persuading (or purchasing) the loyalty of some big names will really help with that. Microsoft is serious about building a proper Twitch competitor and this big move is likely to be just the beginning.
What It Means For Streamers and Viewers
For streamers more choices can only be a good thing. Different platforms have different interfaces, features and rewards. As the livestreaming wars get underway, we should expect platforms to be working hard to maintain standards and entice over new users.
Twitch have recently hit headlines for their dramas, as well as their inconsistencies when it comes to bans. A platform which has a more rigid and understandable policy on bans and sanctions may well appeal to those who want to avoid the chaos that is Twitch’s current system.
There are also advantages for smaller streamers in being on a smaller platform. While a tiny platform no one uses won’t do you much good, one which is small but growing quickly can be a good investment, allowing you to grow with the platform itself.
Less users can also mean less trolls, something else which may appeal to smaller streamers; especially women, LGBTQ+ and other streamers who encounter more frequent abuse.
For viewers, it’s a chance to find something new. They can explore different platforms, search for new channels and see if they can find a new favorite platform, interface, or creator. Viewers don’t have to be loyal to one platform and can maintain accounts on them all, swapping between them to discover new content.
The future of livestreaming is uncertain; but one thing's for sure, the cyberscape of streaming is changing. Twitch will no longer be able to rest on their laurels, watching the views fly in and making questionable choices about policy enforcement. Streamers and viewers are starting to slowly but surely vote with their feet and the repercussions are coming. Livestreaming is about to change.