Mixer looks to be the David to Twitch’s Goliath after signing shroud

Can shroud propel Microsoft’s streaming service skyward?

Screengrab via Shroud

Mixer claimed another Twitch superstar yesterday.  Shroud announced his departure from the streaming colossus, shocking fans and members of the streaming community. While shroud isn’t the first big name to make the move, the partnership shows that Mixer is more than willing to go toe-to-toe with its rival, Twitch.

But shroud’s monumental career move isn’t exactly risk-free. Twitch certainly has more world-wide reach, popularity, and resources than Microsoft’s streaming service. And if Ninja, who’s arguably the most popular streamer in the world, wasn’t able to maintain the same level of concurrent viewership on Mixer than he did on Twitch, how will shroud be any different?

Mixer takes aim at streaming giant Twitch

The Mixer conquest began when the streaming service convinced Fortnite superstar Ninja to switch over, promising a contract that would accommodate the growth of his brand outside of the gaming sphere. Though many believed Ninja “sold out” by accepting Mixer’s offer, his wife and business manager, Jessica Blevins, revealed that Twitch tried to limit the streamer’s licensing deals during contract negotiations. 

Mixer enticing Ninja appeared to be simply coincidence—the streamer was unhappy with Twitch’s contract, Mixer offered him what he wanted, and, thus, the partnership was born. For those who thought Microsoft’s streamer poaching would end there, however, you were in for a surprise.

Shroud was poached. And in keeping consistent with his diplomatic, drama-free character, the streamer’s explanation for moving to Mixer was simple—”I just thought it was the best move for my career.” It’s unknown how much Mixer offered the former CS:GO pro, but, assuming no contract disputes were at play, shroud likely received a sizable amount that bests anything Twitch was willing to muster.

Screengrab via TwitchMetrics

Picking up Ninja and shroud means Microsoft has the money and gumption to take on Twitch head-on. With shroud’s departure, Twitch has now lost two of its top three megastars. Ninja hasn’t streamed on Twitch for over three months and still has the most followers on the platform with over 14 million, double Tfue and shroud’s numbers, according to TwitchMetrics.

Mixer signing shroud only three months from partnering up with Ninja begs the question: Who’s next? Could it be the two-time champion Dr DisRespect? Unlikely, since Doc claims to have been approached by Mixer before and feels the streaming service doesn’t have the same engagement or longevity as Twitch. What about Ninja’s long-time pal, TimTheTatman? It’s possible, especially after Ninja jokingly tweeted TimtheTatman’s Mixer channel yesterday. Or will Microsoft attempt the trifecta by claiming former Fortnite pro Tfue? Perhaps.

These conjectures would’ve seemed like hearsay two days ago. But after shroud joined Team Mixer, suddenly anything seems possible.

Will the Mixer-shroud partnership prove to be a lucrative venture or precarious at best?

Well, one thing is quite obvious⁠—shroud got paid. And if he was already making a substantial amount of cheddar with Twitch, you can expect that he’s certainly swimming in it today. But will his Mixer channel ever record the numbers that it did on Twitch?

The streamer’s currently at 360,000 Mixer followers, which is a far cry from his seven million on Twitch. And if Ninja’s Mixer channel is anything to go off of, shroud may never reach those numbers again. Ninja amassed almost 2.5 million followers on Mixer in the first three months of the partnership, which is an incredible feat. But it’s nowhere near the 14 million he had on Twitch.

Image via StreamElements and Arsenal.gg

And while Mixer had hoped that signing Ninja would skyrocket the platform to popularity, it didn’t quite work out that way. During Q3 of 2019, Mixer sat at fourth place in hours watched behind Facebook, Youtube, and Twitch, according to a report by StreamElements.

The hope was that Ninja’s presence would encourage viewers to check out other streamers on the platform, but it’s debatable if any noticeable change in viewership emerged. Mixer is certainly trending in the right direction, however, doubling its hours watched compared to a year ago. But Twitch is still Goliath in the battle of consistent viewership, and there doesn’t seem to be a David in sight.

Ninja’s average Twitch viewers in July hovered around 38,000, while his average Mixer viewers over the last 14 days is 12,000, according to Twitchtracker. In comparison, shroud’s Twitch viewership over the last 14 days is approximately 36,000. If the former pro’s channel follows the same pattern as Ninja’s, then shroud may find himself with around 11,000 concurrent viewers.

Other companies have unsuccessfully tried to rival Twitch in the past. Azubu.tv partnered with big League of Legends names, like SK Telecom T1 mid laner Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok, to showcase players and live stream their games. Due to a mismanagement of funds, as well as streaming rights for League increasing from one to three million dollars in 2016, Azubu shut down and was succeeded by Smashcast.tv.

What’s to stop Mixer from encountering the same fate as Azubu? The financial backing of Microsoft.

Even though Mixer is taking a similar approach to Azubu, in that it’s recruiting premiere talent to be the face of the company, it has plenty of money to continue making bold financial decisions that may or may not payoff.

The silver lining

It’s unrealistic for Mixer to ever match Twitch’s mass appeal. Ninja knows it. Shroud knows it. Microsoft probably even knows it. If video giant YouTube falls short to Twitch—roughly 600,000 less hours watched in September 2019—than this may seem like a pipe dream for Mixer.

But that doesn’t mean it can’t have a large scale impact within the streaming market. The company clearly knows how to allure big streamers. Ninja and shroud were making millions on Twitch and were still willing to leave that behind for more money and whatever else Mixer could promise.

And Twitch has been under scrutiny recently by the community, who criticize the platform’s ambiguous terms of service. Some content creators were harshly banned for seemingly minor infractions, while those that committed bigger violations were let off with a slap on the wrist.

While Mixer might not ever get its own pie, the company has certainly earned it’s sliver and a seat at the adult table.