Amazon-owned Twitch tops the leader board, by a 4-to-1 margin, for gamer-oriented live streaming, according to latest statistics from StreamElements.
Google Live is second, but well behind, with one-fourth of the streams of Twitch, which received about three-fourths of all live streaming view time in the second quarter, or about 2.72 billion hours, according to StreamElements, which provides software and consulting services in the burgeoning live-streaming space.
YouTube Live attracted less than 20 percent of the 3.77 billion hours watched live, according to the study. Facebook Gaming (5.3 percent) and Microsoft-owned Mixer (3 percent) grabbed the balance.
The baseline numbers show how fast live-streaming influencers are grabbing attention and engagement, particularly among younger audiences. The biggest new star is Tfue, who had more than 5 million hours watched in Q2.
Tfue’s viewership outstripped even that of Ninja (Tyler Blevins), Twitch’s most prominent live-streamer and the first to break into broader culture, enough that he has signed music and book deals in recent months.
Tfue, Ninja and Shroud have taken turns at the top of the viewership rankings the first half of the year, according to StreamElements. Others in the Top 5 include newcomers LIRIK, xQcOW and Asmongold.
All those stars are vacuuming up much of the Twitch watch time, however, making it a difficult business for small-fry competitors to break through, even when they spend many hours a day on camera. That domination by the big fish differs from broader online culture, where influencers with followings as small as a few thousand accounts can frequently secure sponsorship deals.
StreamElements’ study focused on Twitch’s top 5,000 live-streamers, who collectively attracted 2 billion of the almost 2.7 billion hours of viewing on Twitch in the quarter.
And the big streamers’ advantage in attention seems to be growing: The top 200 channels average about 10,600 concurrent viewers for their many hours of content per week.
Kym Nelson, Twitch’s SVP of ad sales, made clear at the recent Influencer Marketing Conference and Expo that Twitch is trying to push beyond its gamer focus, both in terms of on-screen talent and advertisers.
The company runs marathons of non-gamer shows such as Dr. Who and Bob Ross’ old public-TV painting show. It spotlights and strongly supports non-gamer streamers. And it especially reaches out to non-endemic advertisers who want to talk to Twitch’s young, male audience.
The site’s “Just Chatting” component, which features all those non-gamer live streamers, grew 7.7 percent, according to StreamElements. “Just Chatting” is the closest analog to YouTube’s most popular influencers, the personality-driven life vloggers. And as Just Chatting grew, viewership declined slightly for top gaming titles such as Fortnite, League of Legends, and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive.
The study suggested that brands that want to get into live-streaming should be “expanding their focus beyond esports to the much broader selection of influencers who are driving the hours watched on Twitch.” Esports can attract huge audiences on Twitch, but competitions happen much less frequently than other kinds of content on the site.
Another big study on digital video consumption – by Vorhaus Advisors and the Manatt, Phelps & Phillips law firm – found that more than half of users 18 years or older watch live-streaming video every week. Among those 18 to 34 years old, the number jumps to more than two-thirds, And a third of the younger viewers watch live-streaming video every day.
Among the content areas most likely to be viewed, according to the Manatt-Vorhaus study: breaking news, comedy and live sports, all watched by at least 35 percent of those surveyed.
A key part of live streaming’s appeal: it makes viewers feel “updated and informed.” A third of those surveyed also said live-streaming “feels authentic.”
In this study of 2,007 U.S. adults, viewers watched more live content of all kinds on Facebook Live (39 percent), YouTube Live, Instagram (both 37 percent) and Twitter (22 percent) than they did on Twitch (21 percent).