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Twitch remains king of livestreaming, but YouTube is catching up

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It’s going to take more than a Ninja to take down Twitch. Despite the exodus of top-tier streamers to competing platforms like Mixer and YouTube over the last year, no service comes close to matching Twitch’s viewership. But YouTube isn’t ready to crown Twitch the king of streaming just yet.

Game content streaming is up 17% compared to January 2019, according to livestream tools provider StreamElements, and viewership increases can be seen across Twitch, YouTube Gaming, Facebook Gaming, and Mixer. Amazon-owned Twitch sits at more than 842 million January hours watched, which is more than twice that of its closest competitor.

However, YouTube Gaming saw the largest year-to-year increase, with 358 million hours watched in January 2020 compared to 287 million in January 2019. This could prove useful for Google Stadia, which promises significant heavy YouTube livestreaming integration to enhance its games.

“Over the past year, YouTube has invested tremendous resources in making YouTube Gaming more appealing to livestreamers,” StreamElements CEO Doron Nir told Digital Trends. “They added multiple new revenue products and opened their platform for developers like StreamElements to build tools and functionality to support growth and engagement in livestreams. In addition, they improved discovery for livestreams on their gaming category. All that investment paid off as more and more gaming content creators on their platform are doing livestreams to connect with their audiences.”

YouTube Gaming’s hourly view growth was far greater than that of Microsoft’s Mixer, which launched an aggressive marketing campaign through exclusive deals with streamers like Ninja and Shroud. However, StreamElements isn’t discounting the approach yet since Microsoft will also heavily rely on the success of its console line.

“Not only is Xbox the only console manufacturer to have its own streaming service, [but] coming soon is Halo Infinite, one of the most anticipated games in the industry, with Ninja — a former pro Halo player — most likely lined up to help bolster the launch,” Nir added.

It remains to be seen if this strategy will be successful for Mixer in the long-term. Right now, it’s dwarfed by Twitch, YouTube, and even Facebook Gaming, and it’s tough to see that changing without consistent promotions and exclusivity deals. Still, as Microsoft proved with the unexpected success of its  Game Pass subscription, it’s best to never count the company out.

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Gabe Gurwin
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Gabe Gurwin has been playing games since 1997, beginning with the N64 and the Super Nintendo. He began his journalism career…
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