It’s been a long journey to the top for Tyler “Ninja” Blevins. But at 26 years old, he’s the king of Twitch.
By May 2018, he had more than 188,000 subscribers, a number that dropped by 40,000 in June after taking two days off for E3 2018. These days, he has over 12 million Twitch followers and he broke the internet when he streamed Fortnite with Drake to over 600,000 viewers.
Ninja started out as a competitive Halo player in 2009, beginning with Halo 3 and competing in the game for the next seven years through to Halo 5. He competed for teams like Cloud9, Team Liquid, and Renegades, winning a number of tournaments including the MLG Fall Championship 2012.
While still competing in Halo, Ninja branched out into streaming. He started out streaming Halo, and added games like Titanfall and Call of Duty to his schedule. Eventually he picked up H1Z1, and battle royale titles took him into the next phase of his career.
After H1Z1 came PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, and Ninja joined Luminosity Gaming. He won the PUBG Gamescom Invitational squads event, and moved on to full-time streaming with Fortnite. And that’s when things exploded.
Now he’s the most popular streamer on Twitch, and has broken just about every record there is to break. He reportedly broke the record for subscribers when he passed 50,000 on Feb. 22—and he’s had at least 188,000 at one time.
That number seems to have dropped since, as many of those subscribers were Twitch Prime subs. Those started rolling in when Twitch and Fortnite teamed up to offer Twitch Prime loot in the game through Twitch Prime Packs, which means plenty of players simply stopped in to sub to Ninja and pulled their free subscriptions after receiving Twitch Prime Pack 1 or Twitch Prime Pack 2, as they would have had to pay to continue using Twitch Prime.
Ninja’s subscriber numbers have since dropped quite a bit. After hitting 188,000 subscribers in May 2018, Ninja had just over 92,000 subscribers in June, according to data from TwitchTracker. Ninja went on to hold just over 70,000 subscribers in July, but he rebounded a bit in August, earning 81,000 subscribers. The number resumed its decline in September with more than 62,000 subscribers. And in October, less than 50,000 people were subscribed to the channel.
Ninja’s reign may not be as powerful as it once was, but make no mistake, he’s still the king of Twitch.
So how much does Ninja really make?
That’s a complicated question. There are three different potential income streams—donations, subscriptions, and sponsorships.
Ninja is still sponsored by Luminosity Gaming, but it’s unknown what kind of fee he might receive for that. Obviously he’s now offering Luminosity’s sponsors, like Scuf Gaming, prime Twitch real estate. Donations are also impossible to know for sure. But on any given stream, you’ll see Ninja get donations totaling thousands of dollars into cash, bits, and even cryptocurrency. He’s also won some earnings competing in Fortnite, too. Ninja’s earnings through tournaments like UMG Friday Fortnite and the Fortnite Summer Skirmish Series landed him anywhere from $3,500 to $10,000 per month throughout the summer, giving him a hefty income from just playing in the field.
We can make some decent estimates for Ninja’s streaming revenue, too. In an interview with Forbes, Ninja confirmed he earns $3.50 for every $4.99 Twitch subscription. For over 188,000 subscribers, that’s a whopping $658,000 per month at the very least. On the other hand, when Ninja brought in over 70,000 subscribers in July 2018, he earned over $245,000 on subs alone.
How much is that in gaming terms? Well, that means that in less than 15 months, he would earn more money than the most successful esports professional of all time in prize money terms—Dota 2 player Kuro “KuroKy” Takhasomi—has made in his career. KuroKy has made over $3.5 million, mostly from winning the 2017 International tournament.
Here’s a rough estimate for Ninja’s income based on TwitchTracker’s subscriber statistics.
|April 2018||148,192||Over $518.6k|
|May 2018||188,807||Over $660.8k|
|June 2018||92,717||Over $324.5k|
|July 2018||71,966||Over $251.8k|
|August 2018||81,401||Over 284.9k|
|September 2018||62,583||Over 219k|
|October 2018||47,780||Over 167.2k|
Will Ninja’s growth last? It’s hard to say. His subscriber numbers have already fallen, and as popular as Fortnite is, it won’t be king forever. All good things must come to end. But even then, Ninja is still pocketing a sizeable sum every month—and having a ton of fun doing it too.
Update Nov. 7 2018: Article updated to include most recent data about Ninja and his subscriber base.