Watch Out Twitch, YouTube Gaming Appears to be Growing Fast

Amazon-owned streaming giant Twitch lost momentum throughout last year as key players signed exclusivity deals with rival platforms, a new report suggests.

Twitch, known for its real-time video game streams, continues to dominate the market despite competition nipping at its heels in recent months, but analysis released today by Streamlabs and Newzoo claims its reach appears to have been slowing in recent months.

The downturn comes during a spike in popularity of YouTube Gaming, which just this week signed exclusivity deals with three popular content creators.

"The streaming wars are heating up," the joint analysis report stated. "We are starting to see how exclusivity deals from competitors are affecting Twitch, which is by far still the leader in terms of hours watched and streamed. However, Twitch lost some momentum in 2019."

According to the analysis, total hours watched on YouTube Gaming increased by 46 percent between Q1 and Q4 last year. In the last quarter, YouTube Gaming's average concurrent viewership jumped by more than 30 percent from Q3. It said that Mixer, a Microsoft platform, suffered an 8.5 percent slump in hours watched between Q3/Q4, but still experienced total year-on-year growth.

In comparison, Twitch's number of hours watched in Q4 reportedly declined by 9.8 percent when compared to the prior quarter. It did report a year-on-year increase, however.

The report suggested there had been a 400 percent rise in the number of streams broadcast to Facebook Gaming in 2019 as some names moved to the platform, including Corinna Kopf and Jeremy "Disguised Toast" Wang, both previously active users of Twitch.

"The biggest surprise here is the massive jump in the amount of live content watched on YouTube Gaming," Ashray Urs, head of product at Streamlabs, told Newsweek.

Urs continued: "Given that the number of hours streamed and unique channels on the platform didn't significantly change quarter over quarter, it tells us that there is a lot of potential here for new streamers that want to establish an audience on that platform."

As industry competition increases, not only for clicks but eyeballs, platforms are trying to lay claim to talent with deals that, in some cases, are reportedly worth millions of dollars.

Just this week, YouTube confirmed deals with content creators who previously had a combined 1.5 million followers on Twitch: Lannan "LazarBeam" Eacott, Rachell "Valkyrae" Hofstetter and Elliott "Muselk" Watkins. Each were already active on YouTube, with a combined 21 million subscribers, but from now future uploads would be reserved for their new home.

It did not share any financial or contractural details about the deals.

"As we've just seen with Valkyrae switching to YouTube, we expect other platforms to continue to sign exclusivity deals with streamers," Streamlabs' Urs told Newsweek. "Until recently, Twitch held a monopoly on most of the top live streamers. Now that this is changing, we are seeing other live streamers that are trying to break into the industry explore other alternatives."

Last year, Twitch lost Tyler "Ninja" Blevins and Michael "Shroud" Grzesiek to Microsoft's Mixer, fueling speculation about an imminent streaming war. Of course, that's not to say Twitch hasn't been nailing down deals with streamers and retaining a plethora of big names.

For now, Twitch also does not appear to have been massively impacted in terms of market share. In Q4 2019, Twitch claimed about 61 percent of total hours watched, compared to about 27.9 percent from YouTube Gaming, 8.5 percent from Facebook and 2.6 percent from Mixer.

YouTube Gaming, launched in 2015, says over 200 million logged-in users watch its content on the platform every single day. Twitch did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

YouTube Gaming
The logo of YouTube Gaming is seen during the Video games trade fair Gamescom in Cologne, western Germany, on August 21, 2019. INA FASSBENDER/AFP/Getty