For the first time ever, Twitch viewership saw stagnation in place of growth in the second quarter of 2019. Twitch states that viewers watched 2.706 billion hours of content, compared to 2.762 billion in the first quarter, based on a report from Steamlabs and Newzoo.
The difference accounts for a 2% drop in the numbers, which may not alarm many, but represents the first downward trend for the platform after many years of nothing but gains. So, what might be causing the dip in numbers? Many factors could be pointed too, but one of the largest contributor may be Fortnite: Battle Royale.
According to the same source, streamers broadcast 10% fewer hours of Fortnite in this quarter, and viewers of this game also dropped by 9.5%. There is strong historical data to support the idea that the lull is in part due to the end of one season and the beginning of the next. Currently, estimates place the arrival of season 10 on August 1, 2019. While the game may still be enjoyable to play, viewers have seen literally everything season 9 has to offer, and there is little reason to keep watching. The same can be said of Hearthstone, which is also seeing decreased viewership as its meta is established, or better said, stale, and its next content expansion is right around the corner.
More pessimistic and perhaps accurate speculation is that Fortnite is simply losing ground on a permanent level, both because it is criticized for not being viable as a competitive game due to its frequent changes, and also because the genre of Battle Royale games is saturated. Still, this lull in Fortnite viewership is likely to kick up again as soon as the next season begins a mere two weeks from now.
There are other reasons that Twitch viewership may be faltering, and that is directly tied to the growth of its competitors in the market. YouTube streaming claimed 736 million hours of content and is showing gains, while Facebook Gaming and Mixer took 198 and 112 million hours respectively.
Alternatively, the numbers may also represent that we are in the middle of summer, and those most likely to view game streaming are spending some time outdoors. According to a recent Twitch demographics survey from April of this year, 81.5% of Twitch users are male and 55% of the users are in the age between 18-34. This is merely an educated guess, but it is this writer’s opinion that one is more likely to enjoy a good game stream during bad, or freezing, weather rather than when it is nice outside.
We can only wait and see for now. If the trend continues into both the third and fourth quarter of the year, that would indicate a downwards trend that would demand an immediate response from Twitch, but for now, it may simply be the time of year when streams naturally receive less viewership.