We Built This City on Twitch.tv

Do you remember daydreaming about being paid to play video games? Millennials and Gen Zers were the first that grew up playing on the SNES, Genesis, Playstation, Xbox, etc., and that dream has since created a billion-dollar industry: professional esports. Millions have decided to give a dollar here and there to their favorite gaming content creators. In doing so, they’ve created cultural icons and cultural icons in the process.  

Twitch.tv has become a kingmaker, creating monolithic brands and millionaires. Watching pros play video games opened a previously untapped market to representation and advertisement based on the idea that people like watching and learning from experienced and skilled gamers. 

Frontier recently did a study on streaming games on Twitch and discovered the top-watched games and gamers and how influential esports is becoming in the gaming world. Let’s see what they found. 

Household Names With Global Appeal

Popular Overwatch streamer xQc has accumulated over 27,000 years of watch time on Twitch. Gaules, of Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO), fame, accrued slightly less at just over 18,800 years of watch time. Another top streamer, ibai’s watch time totaled over 13,000 years. Even in this No. 3 spot, his YouTube channel has 9 million subscribers and over 2 billion views. The reach and influence these pro gamers have today is unprecedented due to these platforms’ ability to connect with global viewers. 

Ibai broke Twitch’s viewership record with a stream in June 2022, bringing in over 3.3 million views. But many streamers have built huge reputations online, frequently attracting tens of thousands of viewers to their chats. While League of Legends, Valorant, and Grand Theft Auto V dominated Twitch this year, many viewers watched channels just to keep up with their favorite gamers.

Beyond gaming, live chats and streams of esports players’ everyday lives have become mainstream entertainment. This kind of connected fandom could reflect the future of how we consume content. 

Most Watched Games

With over 180,000 years of watch time over the past year, League of Legends continues dominating viewership gaming scores. Grand Theft Auto V came second, and Valorant third for viewership. Clearly, the developer of League of Legends and Valorant, Riot is the new Blizzard, consuming far more hours of gamers’ lives today.

Despite taking the #1 spot in 2021 on Twitch for the most-streamed game, Fortnite totaled over 76,000 years of view time in 2022, far less than the year’s most-streamed games. But each game brings a diverse set of people together to collaborate and compete for a common goal of grasping esports stardom.

Unlike traditional sports, esports is not rooted in one region, culture, or language. The idea that hundreds of millions of people worldwide can watch the same event is becoming more commonplace, with the ease of watching via live stream changing the landscape of spectator sports.

A Significant Slice of the Pie

The most watched esports tournament was that of Free Fire: a battle royale with broad appeal in the 2021 Singapore world series. At its peak, this event had more than half the total viewers for the final round of the 2022 Masters Tournament. League of Legends garnered about 4 million viewers for its 2021 world championship tournament. And as a relatively new contender, esports has plenty of time, money, and interest to bring in even higher numbers of viewers for upcoming tournaments.

With big names in esports building brands of their own and traditional athletes and owners taking notice of these leagues, the money and talent have caught on with major advertisers. Red Bull, Mercedes, and Mastercard all took advantage of the millions watching the 2020 League of Legends World Championship. As esports continues to grow, so will the ad revenue.

The Future of Esports and Streaming

As we become more comfortable with digital sports and entertainment, the industry will continue to change and mold itself to what the audience wants. Despite the same backlash that any burgeoning popular entertainment usually faces and the potentially long, trudging path toward wider acceptance, game streaming and platforms like Twitch are here to stay. Every trend has the potential to change the game, and every new streaming site has an equally solid chance at the throne. But for now, Twitch is the top contender.

Twitch came about after rivalry with numerous competitors trying to vie for the main hub for streamers and tournaments. YouTube is finding a foothold as a platform for content creators, and the wisest streamers are learning to diversify. But as tournaments, players, and new games continue to come forward, the future of streaming doesn’t necessarily follow a set path. Instead, the global audience will set the tone.




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