It’s been a weird few weeks for live-streaming platform Twitch.tv. The most recognizable name in the business when it comes to video game broadcasting, the service seems to be in something of a freefall as of late. On the first of this month, Tyler “Ninja” Blevins, the most popular and recognizable streaming personality in the world, abandoned the site as part of a deal with Microsoft to stream exclusively on Mixer, their own platform. A few days later it was announced that Twitch actually lost more viewers in the month of July than it had gained, something which hasn’t happened in over a year. With #TwitchIsOverParty trending on Twitter, it’s hard to know what will happen in the future.
That said, with Ninja gone, other streamers will now be vying for that top spot. Unfortunately, Tyler Blevins was, for all intents and purposes, the mascot of the platform, and it’s hard to say for sure if anyone else can fill his shoes in that regard.
Shroud, for instance, is perhaps the most viewed lone streamer on Twitch right now, but he’s nowhere as visible as someone like Ninja. He’s never done major talk show interviews or live streamed with the likes of Drake or Rick and Morty. (Yes, for those wondering, Ninja really did stream with Justin Roilan’s fictitious cartoon duo to promote Fallout 76. It was incredibly awkward.) He doesn’t appear to have the boisterous, loud personality necessary to claim Ninja’s throne, and, though he’s advocated for the platform in the past, he simply isn’t flashy enough to be Twitch’s next icon.
It’s worth noting that Shroud actually briefly surpassed Ninja in total views shortly before his colleague’s departure from the service, but that hardly registered as a blip on the radar compared to some of the things Ninja has done in the past. The fact of the matter is that Blevins built himself up into a brand, he sold the illusion that he was more than just one man sitting in a room playing video games. This is something which other streamers like Shroud, xQcQW, Asmongold, and others have failed to do. To be the next top dog, you need to be truly marketable, and that’s an aspect few of the site’s most-viewed streamers seem to possess.
The Doctor Is In
The only other major streamer who understands this seems to be Dr. Disrespect. An ex video game developer, he puts on a persona and treats his streams as an act. He plays a character much in the same way as Ninja often does, and he’s all the more memorable because of that. He’s built himself up into a symbol, and those familiar with Twitch will instantly be able to recognize his iconic, albeit slightly goofy mustache and glasses. He’s made more of a name for himself in less time than most popular personalities, and, were it not for a few flaws, he would seem like the person best suited to take Ninja’s spot.
Unfortunately, he comes with some baggage. Most notably, he was recently—and controversially—banned for briefly streaming from a bathroom during this past E3. Though his account was suspended for a mere two weeks, the community was divided as to whether he deserved to be punished at all, and there does appear to be some bad blood between him and the platform, though there isn’t exactly any definite proof of that as of yet.
Secondly, at 37, he’s one of the oldest popular streamers on the site, and, while age theoretically shouldn’t play a factor, the fact of the matter is that streaming is a young man’s game. A majority of Twitch’s audience members are in their teens, some even younger than that, and the age gap may make a huge difference.
A full nine years older than the 28-year-old Blevins, Dr. Disrespect’s relatability undoubtedly suffers among an audience of children. It’s tough for a man old enough to have a family of his own to relate to a viewership primarily watching his content as a means of procrastinating from their math homework. Ninja made this work because he purposefully marketed himself to a younger audience, and, if Dr. Disrespect isn’t willing to do that, he’ll have a tough time propelling himself past the competition.
The long and short of it seems to be that Twitch simply won’t have a star streamer—at least not for a while. Nobody out there seems to possess all of the components which made Tyler Blevins so famous, but that’s likely to change at some point. Rather than having one of the old guard fill in and attempt to replicate Ninja’s success, it seems more likely that, right now, we don’t know the name of the next streamer able to pull of playing Fortnite with Ellen DeGeneres.