If you’re reading this, there’s a good chance that you know that esports is pretty popular! With millions of viewers and players worldwide, the industry has exploded, and there are now many platforms available for streaming esports. In this blog, we’ll be discussing the pros and cons of some of the most popular streaming platforms for esports, including Twitch, Mixer (now shut down), Kick, YouTube Gaming, and Facebook Gaming.
What is esports streaming?
Esports streaming is the broadcasting of video games being played competitively. It allows viewers to watch live as their favorite players or teams compete against each other in real-time. Esports streaming has gained a massive following in recent years and in 2022 there were a whopping 532 million esports viewers worldwide (1).
There are a number of big players when it comes to esports platforms – let’s have a look at some of the most popular:
Twitch (owned by Amazon)
Amazon owned Twitch is the most popular streaming platform for esports. It has been around since 2011 and has grown to become the go-to platform for esports streaming. Twitch boasts over 31 million daily active users. Groovy Gecko worked on the first ever Twitch Rivals EU event which you can read about here: https://www.groovygecko.com/case-studies/twitchcon-europe/
Mixer was a streaming platform that was launched in 2016 by Microsoft, with the goal of being a more interactive and engaging platform than its competitors with features like low-latency streaming and co-streaming. It never quite gained the same level of popularity as Twitch and In June 2020, Microsoft took the decision to shut down Mixer and partner with Facebook Gaming. The reason for this decision was largely due to Mixer’s relatively low market share and viewership compared to other leading streaming platforms.
Kick is a newer platform, launched in 2019. It aims to be a more community-focused streaming platform, with features like personalized recommendation algorithms and community events. Kick is still relatively new, but it’s worth keeping an eye on as it continues to grow and see how disruptive it can become in the esports market.
YouTube Gaming is YouTube’s dedicated gaming platform. It was launched in 2015 and has grown to become a popular platform for esports streaming. YouTube Gaming as of Q3 2022 had 544,000 concurrent viewers with 1.17 billion hours of content viewed in the quarter according to Statista. The service is available in over 80 countries.
Facebook Gaming is Facebook’s dedicated gaming platform. It was launched in 2018 and has grown to become a popular platform for esports streaming. Facebook Gaming as of Q3 2022 had c. 540,000 peak concurrent viewers with 382 million hours of content viewed in the quarter according to Statista.The service is available in over 190 countries
Market share and audience reach
When it comes to market share, according to research by Stream Labs in Q3 2022 Twitch was the leading platform in the video game streaming market, with an estimated market share of around 78.6%. YouTube Gaming was the second-largest platform with an estimated market share of around 16.2% , while Facebook Gaming had an estimated market share of around 5.3%.
For audience reach, YouTube Gaming and Facebook Gaming offer somewhat of an advantage and have a broader reach than Twitch. This is because both platforms are integrated with their parent companies’ larger social media networks. This means that content posted on these platforms can easily be shared across other social media platforms, leading to wider audience reach.
Content format, duration, and engagement
All of the platforms mentioned offer a variety of content formats, including live streams, pre-recorded videos, and highlights. The duration of the content also varies, with some streams lasting for hours and others only lasting a few minutes.
Twitch is known for its highly-engaged community, with viewers able to interact with streamers in real-time. This leads to a high level of engagement and loyalty among viewers. Before it was shut down, Mixer also implemented features that allowed for more interactivity, such as co-streaming, which allows multiple streamers to stream together on one channel.
YouTube Gaming and Facebook Gaming both offer a variety of content formats but with a lot more pre-recorded content. While they do offer live streaming, it’s not as extensive on these platforms as it is on Twitch and previously Mixer. However, both platforms offer excellent video editing tools that allow for creating polished, high-quality videos. This is particularly useful for esports teams and organizations that want to showcase their content in a more professional manner.
The popularity of different games varies across platforms, with some games being more popular on one platform than another. For example, League of Legends is one of the most popular games on Twitch, with millions of viewers tuning in to watch competitive gameplay. On the other hand, games like FIFA and NBA 2K are more popular on YouTube Gaming and Facebook Gaming, where there is a larger audience for sports games.
Measurement and analytics
All of the platforms mentioned offer measurement and analytics tools that allow streamers to track their performance and audience engagement. Twitch’s analytics tools are particularly strong, providing detailed metrics on viewership, engagement, and revenue. YouTube Gaming and Facebook Gaming also offer analytics tools, but they are more focused on video performance and engagement metrics rather than live streaming metrics.
When it comes to influencer pricing, Twitch is generally considered to be the most lucrative platform for esports streamers. This is because Twitch has the largest audience and the highest engagement, leading to higher ad revenue and sponsorship opportunities. However YouTube Gaming (and previously Mixer) also offer opportunities for streamers to earn income through ads and sponsorships.
Pros and Cons of Each Platform
- Largest audience and highest engagement
- Robust analytics tools
- High revenue potential through ads and sponsorships
- Highly competitive environment, with many streamers vying for attention
- Can be challenging for new streamers to gain traction
- Large user base and global reach
- Integration with Facebook’s social media network for wider audience reach
- Potential for sponsorship opportunities
- Relatively new platform, so less established than others
- Less focus on live streaming compared to other platforms
- May be less appealing to certain demographics due to association with Facebook’s main platform
- Large potential audience with access to YouTube’s 2 billion monthly active users.
- Close integration with the main YouTube platform, meaning it’s easier to find and discover gaming content.
- Monetization opportunities – YouTube Gaming allows gamers to earn money through ads, sponsorships, and donations from viewers.
- Comprehensive analytics that allow streamers to track their performance and gain insights into their audience’s behavior.
- Strong competition: YouTube Gaming has to compete with Twitch, which may make it harder for new streamers to gain traction.
- Potentially difficult for gamers to be discovered given the sheer volume of content on the platform.
- Strict policies which gamers have to adhere to.
- Lack of community features such as chat emotes and subscriber badges which fans on Twitch have become used to
- Community-focused platform with personalized recommendations
- Growing user base and potential for sponsorship opportunities
- Opportunities for grassroots content creators to gain visibility
- Less established and not as popular as other platforms
- Limited market share and audience reach compared to larger platforms
- Less developed analytics tools
When it comes to choosing a platform for esports streaming, there are several factors to consider, such as audience reach, engagement, format, and measurement tools. While Twitch remains the dominant player in the market, other platforms like YouTube Gaming and Facebook Gaming offer their own unique advantages, such as wider audience reach and excellent video editing tools. Ultimately, the choice of platform will depend on the needs and preferences of individual streamers and esports organizations. You can read more about how Groovy Gecko can help with esports productions here: https://www.groovygecko.com/services/esports-production/