Fortnite star Ninja could help Microsoft's live-streaming platform compete with Twitch

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Tyler “Ninja” Blevins, the Fortnite gamer who rose to fame on Amazon’s live-streaming platform Twitch, ismoving exclusively to streaming on Microsoft’s rival platform Mixer, per Bloomberg. Business Insider Intelligence

The platform, which Microsoft acquired in 2016, is integrated into Xbox One consoles and Windows 10. Like Twitch, YouTube Gaming, and now Facebook Gaming, Mixer is primarily used for live streaming gameplay by amateur streamers, pro esports players, and verified creators.

Mixer isfar behind Twitch and YouTube Gaming in terms of live-stream viewership, but it’s shown explosive growth in recent quarters. Hours watched on Mixer has surged357% year-over-year (YoY) in Q2 2019 to about 119 million hours, up from just 32% YoY in Q1, per Newzoo data. Despite the growth, Mixer’s overall figure is dwarfed by Twitch, which touted 2.7 billion hours streamed in Q2 YoY alone.

What it means: Ninja’s departure marks a serious blow to Twitch, as the gamer was at least in part responsible for Twitch’s dominance among the free, live-streaming gaming platforms.

Ninja’s popularity on Twitch has driven enormous engagement on the platform, and made him a star in the gaming world and beyond. As of Friday, Ninja’s channel on Twitch touted 14.7 million followers — more than twice as many followers as the next closest streamer on the platform, per Bloomberg.

He holds the record for the most concurrent viewers on a single broadcast of667,000, which broke his previous record of628,000, a broadcast in which he played Fortnite with rapper Drake. As the most famous Fortnite gamer, he competed in and commentated on the inaugural Fortnite World Cup (we covered in-depthhere andhere).

And among esports personalities, he has generated the most mainstream attention: He was the first esports player featured on the cover ofESPN Magazine in September 2018, for instance.

The impact of his absence from Twitch — and new presence on Mixer — is likely to be significant and immediate.

  • Ninja’s following will migrate along with him — and fast. As of Friday evening, less than 24 hours after announcing the move, Ninja’s new Mixerchannel has already picked up 362K followers. And as of Friday, Mixer became the top free app download on App Store, outranking YouTube, Google Maps, Instagram, and Gmail.
  • Ninja could singlehandedly more than double Mixer’s total quarterly engagement as a result of that migration. Mixer viewers watched119.1 million hours on the platform in Q2 2019, per Newzoo data. If Ninja brings all or even most of his following with him to Mixer, Ninja could supercharge that figure. The average user on Twitch spends 95 minutes per day, on average, watching live gaming on the platform, per Twitch data. If even two-thirds of Ninja’s Twitch following migrates to Mixer — 10 million viewers total — that would mean an automatic transfer of about 142.5 million hours watched per quarter, assuming the same daily average time spent.
  • If Ninja’s move inspires other gamers to do the same, Mixer’s viewership growth will rise exponentially. Beyond his own Twitch and Youtube followers, Ninja’s departure could likewise bring the audience of other gaming influencers. Mixer remains a relatively young platform, and Twitch is much more crowded, with 2.2 million daily broadcasters fighting for attention. As a result, creators could come to view the less-established Mixer as a relatively untapped opportunity.

The bigger picture: Brands should monitor Mixer’s growth closely and consider allocating some spend to deals with gamers who rise to prominence on the fledgling platform.

As of now, Mixer doesn’t sell ads, but it likely will once it establishes a sizeable user base — something it’s now well-positioned to do. Given Ninja’s outsize presence and the follow-on effect it might have among both users and other gaming influencers, brands should expect Mixer to become a contender in the gaming world.

And if it does, brands will likely have another entry point into the valuable esportsaudience, which is young, intensely engaged, and fast-growing. Even though the platform doesn’t yet offer direct opportunities for advertisers, brands that monitor Mixer for emerging talent are likely to be rewarded, either in the form of present-day deals with creators themselves or in the long-term, if it decides to sell ads.

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