Streaming is the new social

May 13, 2024

Streaming platforms are home to some of the most engaged gaming audiences. 

These platforms live and breathe gaming, with gamification a core part of the streaming experience. Across streaming platforms, audiences are rewarded with additional interactive features by viewing more content, creating a dynamic environment that encourages views, conversation and interaction during streamed gameplay.

Twitch, until recently, had been the go-to platform for all things streaming. However, 2019 saw Microsoft's Mixer acquire Twitch's two largest streamers - Ninja and Shroud. 

Facebook also threw their hat into the ring with the launch of Facebook Gaming, while Youtube consolidated the Youtube Gaming platform back into the central Youtube hub.

In the wake of Ninja and Shroud’s departure from Twitch, there has been a flurry of influencer/creator migrations and acquisitions between the various platforms.

The world of streaming is beginning to mirror the VOD industry, with audiences spread across Netflix, Amazon Prime, Now TV etc. But is the draw to streaming platforms based on the content, the influencers, or the user experience?

Since its launch in 2016, Mixer has attracted some of the biggest names in streaming. For Mixer, the acquisitions of Ninja and Shroud have been extremely positive. When Ninja moved over, the number of hours streamed per quarter tripled to 32.6m and before Shroud had even started his first game, he already had 240,000 followers on Mixer

When looking at the appeal of the different influencers, a recent study by Newzoo saw that an influencer’s popularity is heavily linked to their gaming ability. In the US, 24% of stream viewers choose to watch a gaming video or stream based on the host or streamer, while 33% watch to see high-level gameplay or skills, and 34% watch to learn from other players. 

But the appeal of streaming platforms goes beyond their influencer/streamer portfolio. These channels are home to tight-knit communities that socialise through live streams.

A recent report from GWI explored the different gaming personas and their interests and attitudes. When examining the social behaviours of these different audiences, some of the top reasons for using social media made it very clear why streaming platforms have hit a sweet spot. Reasons included:

  • To follow celebs/celebrity news
  • To watch/follow sports events
  • To meet new people
  • To promote charitable causes

While most streaming platforms do not identify as a social network, they are social by nature - fostering communities and encouraging conversation and interactions. When looking at the list above, streaming platforms deliver across the board.

The streaming of esports events is a core feature of streaming platforms, along with encouraging interactions and building communities. Mixer even highlights their community-first approach to their streamers and viewers. They have seen and learned from concerns in the streaming community and are leading the way with clearer labelling, unique audience engagement features and better chat moderation.

But people may be surprised to hear how streamers are giving back and standing up for charitable causes. Fortnite Streamer, Ninja, famously raised $2.7 Million for St. Jude Children's Hospital during a stream and countless other streamers have followed suit.

While some people may not view streamers as celebrities, the numbers would argue that they are some of the biggest stars going. Ninja has a cosy 14.9 million followers on Instagram, 2.9 million less than Oprah!

The celebrity status of streamers/influencers/creators has allowed them to grow their content to cover all aspects of their life. Ninja's manager and wife, Jessica Blevins, has over 1.2 million followers on Instagram. The power couple are friends with Youtube celebrities including Jeffree Star enabling them to grow followings beyond gaming.

 It is still unclear which platform will reign supreme, but what is clear is the value of these audiences for brands looking to engage with audiences on new, dynamic and interactive platforms. Streaming is the new social.

Image credit: Gorodenkoff / Adobe Stock