Hasan hits record viewership during coverage of insurrection at US Capitol

He had more than 200,000 people watching.

Screengrab via Twitch.tv/hasanabi

When political turmoil turned into an insurrection at the U.S. Capitol yesterday, gamers around the internet gathered in one place to stay posted on what was going on: Hasan “HasanAbi” Piker’s Twitch channel.

With a stream that started at 12pm CT, Hasan followed all of the events at Capitol Hill until 2:30am CT. A post on his Twitter page today showed a peak of 231,817 concurrent viewers on his stream between 3 to 4pm CT.

Over 14 hours of streaming yesterday, Hasan averaged 132,273 viewers, according to Twitch stat tracker SullyGnome.

The appeal of his broadcast to the masses yesterday came from a combination of factors. For starters, Hasan’s résumé is ladened with experience in political commentary. With a political science and communications degree, Piker started working for a progressive news network called The Young Turks. From 2016 to 2018, he also spent time writing political pieces for HuffPost.

As far as streamers on Twitch go, Hasan is perhaps the most well-equipped to discuss political topics and major news events in a way that connects to the average Twitch viewer who’s trying to figure out what’s going on. 

With an abundance of tabs open on his internet browser, Hasan jumped from one news broadcast to another almost seamlessly, trying to digest the surreal scene at Capitol Hill. 

Hasan’s left-leaning political beliefs are widely known, but as people moved from a rally held by outgoing President Donald Trump to the U.S. Capitol yesterday, the conversation became less about partisan politics. Instead, the stream was about grabbing all of the information available about what was going on, whether it came from a news network’s livestream, C-SPAN, Twitter, Twitch, or other media.

Piker’s blunt, no-nonsense tone and general lack of sensitivity was still present, but the stream yesterday was about more than just Hasan as a personality.

As the American masses tried to understand the nature of the breach at the U.S. Capitol, Hasan’s stream became a sort of communal doomscrolling—a term used to describe the nonstop mass consumption of negative news. With every video taken on the scene that was shown, chat was filled with viewers expressing their feelings together in a moment when so many citizens were sitting home alone during a pandemic.

During a time in America when so many people feel uncertain about their future for a multitude of reasons, the HasanAbi channel on Twitch became a place where people could virtually gather to try and make sense of a chaotic incident in the country’s history that has no precedent.