Twitch and Facebook Gaming are having a hell of a year. YouTube Gaming? Hey, not so much

Illustration from article titled Twitch and Facebook Gaming Have a Hell of a Year.  YouTube Gaming?  Hey, not so much

Photo: Martin Bureau (Getty Images)

While the world was locked down last year, people overwhelming listening to live streams to connect with others and avoid boredom when stuck at home. And this pandemic-fueled growth shows no signs of slowing even as the world tries to get back to business as usual, with Twitch and Facebook Gaming seeing record audiences in the first quarter of 2021, according to the. latest Numbers.

Well-known live streaming software provider StreamLabs released its first quarterly streaming industry report on Friday for 2021. Using data compiled by a streaming analytics company Flow Hatchet from the beginning of January to the end of March, it offers some interesting information, including that Facebook Gaming is closing in on YouTube Gaming’s spot for the # 2 most popular streaming service. First, longtime leader Twitch, which still easily occupies most of the market with over 72% of total hours of content watched this year.

If you (like me) have never really understood this in live streaming, you might be surprised to learn how massive the industry has grown in such a short period of time. At Amazon-owned Twitch, the number of views, hours of streaming, average number of simultaneous views and number of channels have all roughly doubled since this time last year, StreamLabs said. Twitch broke its audience record for the second quarter in a row, with users watching 6.3 billion hours of content, an increase of nearly one billion hours from last quarter. The platform also saw its biggest quarterly increase in streaming hours since the early days of the pandemic, from around 230 million hours to 265 million.

While Twitch is best known for streaming video games, its most popular category remains “Just Chatting”. This category – seen as the successor to Twitch’s ill-defined ‘IRL’ section, which was reconfigured into 13 separate non-gaming categories in 2018 – involves exactly what its name implies: content that streamers are content with. chat with spectators or engage in real-world shenanigans.

“Just Chatting” racked up 754 million viewing hours in the first quarter of this year. To put this number in perspective, Grand Theft Auto V, the most watched game on Twitch in 2021, had 536.3 million hours, with League of Legends not far behind at 534 million.

Facebook Gaming and Google-owned YouTube Gaming continue to lag far behind Twitch, but the gap between them is rapidly narrowing. Facebook hit an impressive milestone in the last quarter, surpassing 1 billion first-time viewing hours, almost double the total viewership the platform garnered at this time last year.

“For the first time, we are seeing Facebook Gaming and YouTube Gaming competing closely in terms of audience,” Ashray Urs, StreamLabs product manager, said in the report. “While the audience difference was around 1 billion hours in the last quarter, this gap narrowed to around 300 million in the first quarter. There’s a chance we could see Facebook Gaming overtake YouTube Gaming in terms of audience next quarter. “

StreamLabs attributes much of this success to PUBG Mobile, Facebook Gaming’s most watched game category for at least two years. Users watched 254 million hours of PUBG Mobile livestreams in the first quarter, an impressive 76% year-over-year increase. Absorbing Facebook Games Microsoft’s live streaming platform mixer failed Last summer undoubtedly attracted a lot of new talent and viewers who migrated.

YouTube Gaming was the only Big Three platform to experience a drop in viewership this quarter, down 28.6%, from 1.92 billion hours to 1.37 billion hours. Total streaming hours and unique channels also fell, but not by as much (6.7% and 9.9% respectively). However, given its year-over-year growth, YouTube Gaming doesn’t seem to be doing half-badly, as its total audience and average concurrent audience have both grown by around 28%. The platform is also home to the most popular female streamer on all platforms: Valkyrae, whose content viewers watched for 12.2 million hours during the first quarter of this year.

We’ve reached out to Twitch, Google, and Facebook for feedback, and we’ll be sure to update this blog when we get back to you.

All in all, it looks like the attention of live streaming platforms attracted during the pandemic is not going to end anytime soon, even as lockdowns lift, vaccines are rolled out and people start leaving their homes again. more regularly. But it remains to be seen whether Facebook and YouTube’s live streaming services will ever pose a real threat to Twitch’s dominance in the industry.

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