When the world closed last year, people striking tuned in live streams to connect with others and repel boredom while staying in their homes. And this pandemic-fueled growth shows no signs of slowing, even as the world tries to return to business as usual, with Twitch and Facebook Gaming seeing record ratings in the first quarter of 2021, according to last numbers.
The popular provider of live streaming software StreamLabs published its first quarterly report on the streaming industry for 2021 on Friday. Use of data collected by a streaming analysis company Stream ax from early January to late March, it offers some interesting ideas, most notably that Facebook Gaming closes in place of YouTube Gaming for the most popular streaming service №2. In first place is longtime leader Twitch, who still easily manages most of the market with over 72% of total content watched this year.
If you (like me) have never put this in a live broadcast, you may be surprised to learn how massive the industry is in such a short time. Owned by Amazon Twitch, viewership, streaming hours, average simultaneous viewing and number of channels have doubled since about that time last year, StreamLabs said. Twitch broke its viewing record for the second consecutive quarter, with users watching 6.3 billion hours of content, an increase of nearly 1 billion hours compared to last quarter. The platform also saw its biggest quarterly increase in hours since the early days of the pandemic, jumping from about 230 million hours to 265 million.
While Twitch is best known for streaming video games, its most popular category continues to be “Just Chatting.” This category – considered the successor to Twitch’s ill-defined “IRL” section, which was reconfigured into 13 separate non-gaming categories in 2018 – includes exactly what the name suggests: Content where streamers just hang out and chat with viewers or participate in real-world maniacs.
Just Chatting garnered a whopping 754 million hours watched in the first quarter of this year. To put this figure into perspective, Grand Theft Auto V, Twitch’s most watched game in 2021 536.3 million hours, s League of Legends does not lag behind with 534 million.
Google-owned Facebook Gaming and YouTube Gaming continue to lag far behind Twitch, but the gap between them is rapidly narrowing. Facebook has achieved an impressive milestone in the last quarter, surpassing one billion hours watched for the first time, almost twice the total number of views the platform garnered around that time last year.
“For the first time, we see Facebook Gaming and YouTube Gaming competing closely with each other in terms of viewership,” StreamLabs product manager Ashray Urs said in the report. “While the difference in viewership was about 1 billion hours in the last quarter, that difference narrowed to about 300 million in the first quarter. There is a chance to see that Facebook Gaming is ahead of YouTube Gaming in terms of viewership in the next quarter. ”
StreamLabs attributes much of this success to PUBG Mobile, The most watched category of games on Facebook Gaming in the last two years. Consumers watched 254 million hours PUBG Mobile live streams in the first quarter, an impressive growth of 76% on an annual basis. Facebook swallows games The failed Mixer platform for live streaming last summer undoubtedly attracted many new talents and spectators who migrated.
YouTube Gaming was the only platform of the big three to experience a drop in viewership this quarter, by 28.6% from 1.92 billion hours to 1.37 billion hours. The total number of streaming hours as well as the unique channels also decreased, although not so much (6.7% and 9.9%, respectively). However, given its growth during the year, YouTube Gaming does not seem to be doing half as well, as its total viewership and average simultaneous viewing have increased by about 28%. The platform is also home to the most popular female streamer of all platforms: Valkyrae, whose content viewers watched 12.2 million hours during Q1 this year.
We have contacted Twitch, Google and Facebook for comment and we will be sure to update this blog when we hear in response.
In general, the attention of live streaming platforms attracted during the pandemic does not seem to subside soon, even when the blockages are lifted, vaccines are released and people start traveling outside their homes more regularly. But whether Facebook and YouTube’s live streaming services will ever pose a real threat to Twitch’s industry dominance remains to be seen.