This year has seen the live streaming industry grow a staggering 99 per cent, with lockdown proving a boon to streaming platforms in general and live streaming in particular. As the world faced a summer spent without meeting with others in person, millions of us turned to the internet to find live interactions from Zoom chats with grandparents to Twitch concerts and YouTube stand-up shows.
According to the streaming software company StreamElements, which conducts regular surveys of the streaming market in accordance with analytics firm Arsenal.gg, at one point during lockdown some streaming services were growing at 10 per cent per week. StreamElements chief executive Doron Nir explained that “the popularity of the livestreaming medium now that people are consuming higher volumes of entertainment at home.”
Gaming stream platform Twitch was the big winner
Streaming services saw growth across the board, but the biggest winner in terms of hours streamed was Twitch. The game streaming platform saw its hours watched grow 50 per cent between March and April and more than double year over year. The service now streams over 1.645 billion hours per month to keen watchers all around the globe.
The biggest game on the biggest platform over the last few months has been Valorant with more than 300 million hours watched in April, a figure which was boosted thanks to Twitch’s clever “drops” component. This feature allows streamers to offer benefits to viewers for watching streams – in this case Twitch users had to watch various Valorant streams to get access to the free beta of the game. In second place over the period was Just Chatting with 134 million hours watch, beating out popular titles Fortnite and League of Legends.
Facebook Gaming also saw huge growth of 238 per cent compared to last year, with YouTube Gaming up 65 per cent year-on-year, which may be smaller in percentage terms, but is huge in regard to streaming numbers due to the size of the Google/Alphabet-owned platform.
Live music shows engage with fans
A possible surprise on Twitch, at least for those that still think of Twitch as gaming-only, was the growth of live music streaming on the platform. With gigs and tours cancelled around the world, musicians turned to Twitch to engage with their fans in huge numbers, with the Music & Performing Arts category on the service grow to four times higher than last year. YouTube may be the current platform for music videos, but for live streams it is Twitch that musicians have increasingly turned to this year.
Live dealer casino streams find an audience
Other forms of live streaming have also thrived during lockdown, including live casino games. The gambling industry has long been trying to replicate the “feel” of a real casino in the virtual world, and it appears that without live sports to attract bettors, many new and existing users have experienced these games for the first time. According to Bestcasinosites.net, live dealer casino streams, which give players the ability to chat live with dealers and other players have been a particularly popular feature on the best live casino sites.
Live nature streams proved a surprise winner
The most surprising growth area of live streaming, however, is live nature streams. In part due to the travel restrictions imposed on people around the world that has left millions dreaming of walks in the green countryside beyond their concrete streets, nature streams classified by Twitch as “Nature and Outdoors”, have seen the number of hours watch triple to 1.25 million between February and June.
Made-for-mobile streaming service Quibi still failed to launch
More traditional non-live streaming platforms, such as Netflix and Amazon Prime, have also seen their numbers soar over lockdown, but it appears that there is at least one streaming company that has faltered over the period – mobile streaming platform Quibi. The youth-targeted service was designed to give people short bite-sized video content with big budget production values to watch on their smartphones. The service raised more than a billion dollars and brought in Hollywood A-listers to star in its shows, but with nobody commuting during lockdown it appears few people chose to pay for the service, with the company reportedly failing to meet 30% of its subscriber number goal. Streaming is having a bumper year, but it seems not every company understands what people are looking to watch.