Twitch Usage Surges During Coronavirus Lockdowns, Surpasses Three Billion Hours Watched

The novel coronavirus outbreak has sent entire counties into mass lockdown—and viewership on live-streaming platform Twitch is reportedly at an all-time high.

The Amazon-owned website has enjoyed a fresh surge of attention as citizens around the world have been forced to isolate, with new Q1 2020 statistics released by Streamlabs indicating the number of hours-watched has spiked by approximately 17 percent compared to the previous quarter.

The hours people actually spent streaming jumped by about 20 percent compared to the prior quarter, reaching an all-time high of 121 million hours, up from 77,991,620 in Q1 2018.

The platform has surpassed three billion hours-watched for the first time, up from roughly 2.03 billion in Q1 2018. The statistics were compiled by analytics firm StreamHatchet.

On Twitch, more people appear to be signing up. The number of unique channels in Q1 2020 increased by over 33 percent compared to the previous quarter, Streamlabs said.

Twitch has been the dominant live-streaming destination for years, beating down competition from social media and tech giants, including Microsoft's Mixer, Google's YouTube and Facebook Gaming. The new data suggests Twitch accounts for about 65 percent of the industry's overall market share.

But the COVID-19 health crisis appears to have fueled a growth in each of the top services. Between February and March this year, hours-watched on YouTube Gaming Live increased 10.7 percent, Facebook Gaming increased 3.8 percent and Mixer spiked 14.9 percent, research found.

"As people stay inside, we are seeing all streaming platforms experience healthy growth as more people utilize live streaming to connect with others," Streamlabs' Ethan May wrote in a blog.

"One positive aspect that has come out of 2020 is the charitable contributions from live streamers. Charity live streams can happen on any streaming platform, but as the market leader, Twitch sees the most activity in the space. All of this activity means more eyes on the platform."

The growth continued on a broader scale, with mobile applications also enjoying a surge in usage and consumer spending from citizens who quickly found themselves stuck at home.

Separate research released yesterday by tracking firm AppAnnie reported the average weekly time spent in apps and games on Android smartphones grew 20 percent year-over-year in Q1 2020.

Over the same period, consumers spent more than $23.4 billion through each of the major application stores—the largest quarter ever in terms of consumer spend, the company revealed. There have been over 31 billion new application downloads in Q1, a 15 percent increase from Q4 2019.

The top five breakout apps of Q1 2020, in downloads, were TikTok, WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram and Messenger—four of which are owned by Mark Zuckerberg's social media company.

Video conferencing application Zoom revealed this week that it now has 200 million daily users—up from roughly 10 million as of December 2019, but was criticized for having security vulnerabilities.

A picture taken at the Tokyo Game Show on September 21, 2018, shows the logo of the VOD and streaming video games company Twitch. MARTIN BUREAU/AFP/Getty