May 8, 2020

Diving into the Numbers: Live Streaming Data During COVID-19

We’re not even half-way through 2020 and there’s no doubt that the COVID-19 pandemic will be a defining moment of the year and our lives moving forward. While the pandemic has impacted every facet of society in some way, the effect it has had on the world of video games and live streaming is substantial.

According to Sullygnome, the past 30 days have seen a rise in hours watched and average viewers on Twitch. While this rise in viewers may seem straightforward, there are a lot of factors at play regarding this sudden viewership increase.

The months of March and April saw record-breaking numbers for hours watched and hours streamed on Twitch. While at first, it could be easy to attribute these figures to the quarantine alone, this would hardly tell the whole story.

Quarantine Boost

The COVID-19 pandemic led most businesses to shut down or move their employees to a work from home schedule. This increase in people being at home seems to have coincided with a rise in usage of not just Twitch, but various online services as well.

In fact, according to data pulled by Cloudflare, internet use in the US alone was up roughly 50 percent since the beginning of the year. Music, video, and yes, gaming streams across all platforms are on the rise as people find themselves searching for sources of entertainment while quarantined inside their homes.

Streamers and Viewers

While it’s clear that the amount of total time watched on Twitch was on the rise as the quarantine took effect, it’s also noteworthy to point out that the quarantine also had an impact on the number of people streaming on the platform. In addition to record-breaking numbers of hours watched, Twitch saw new highs for concurrent viewership (CCV) and hours streamed on the platform.

Twitch wasn’t alone in this respect. In fact, Facebook Gaming and YouTube Gaming Live both saw increases and all-time highs in CCV as well. What this showed was that there was an increase in demand for content. More of it was being consumed and then more of it was being produced. 

Omeed discussed this rise in demand last month in a Gamesight Blog regarding sponsored content during the pandemic (which you should check out here). Essentially, this rise in demand presented game companies with a tremendous opportunity to grab the attention of consumers looking for entertainment. The company that capitalized on this demand early on was undoubtedly Riot Games. 

The Valorant Effect

Twitch dominated the viewership numbers over the last couple of months. While the quarantine definitely contributed, there’s no denying the effect that the release of Valorant had as well. The highly-anticipated first-person shooter from Riot Games released into closed beta towards the beginning of April and saw an immediate and noticeable impact on the Twitch landscape. 

Riot made the decision to promote access to Valorant solely through Twitch’s Drops program. With Twitch Drops being the only means of obtaining access, viewers flocked to Valorant streams in hordes. Valorant took hold of the number one spot in the Twitch directory and didn’t relent until almost two full weeks had passed. 

Valorant Rolling Averages Over Time

As the days went on, however, the game’s viewership saw a significant dip in total viewers.

Valorant Viewer Minutes by Day

This dip can likely be attributed to a few different factors. The simple explanation is that people were watching the game to get access and now they’re playing. Still, one month after the game went into closed beta, Valorant sits comfortably atop the Twitch directory.

What it all Means?

With quarantine measures still in effect throughout the country, it’s likely that we will continue to see an increased amount of viewers flocking to digital forms of entertainment, like Twitch. Does that mean that now is a better time to be streaming on Twitch? Not necessarily, but it isn’t a bad time to be on the platform either.