Stream Hatchet Q1 Report shows 35% increase in hours watched year-over-year

A lot more people are watching due to social distancing measures.

Image via Riot Games

Viewer analytics firm Stream Hatchet and Torque Esports released their Q1 report for the streaming industry yesterday. The top streaming platforms racked up 4.9 billion hours watched in the first four months of the year, up 35 percent from last year, according to the report.

Using data from Twitch, YouTube Gaming, Mixer, and Facebook Gaming, Stream Hatchet noted that VALORANT’s beta release, esports racing, and Fortnite’s in-game Travis Scott concert event highlighted the quarter. 

Growth across the industry came amid global “social distancing” measures due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As most large events around the world were postponed or canceled, many people turned to digital media and streams for entertainment, which led to massive growth for the industry during the quarter.

“Do we expect some of these numbers to level off in the long run? Yes,” Stream Hatchet CEO Eduard Montserrat said. “But the interesting thing is that virtual sports content will be something that leagues will continue to investigate, and performers and their labels will continue to look at gaming opportunities as a key part of their promotional strategy and brand building.”

Twitch predictably stayed at the top of the streaming market, producing well over half of the total hours watched for the industry. But Facebook showed notable improvement, with Stream Hatchet reporting that the platform grew 900 percent in Q1 2020. The platform accounted for 11 percent of the overall market.

Meanwhile, YouTube Gaming saw a modest growth in market share, jumping to 22 percent of the 4.9 billion hours watched total. Mixer viewership was the only piece of the pie to get smaller.

“The gaming industry and the popularity of live streams continue to grow, but the COVID-19 situation has caused a massive spike in streaming popularity as people stuck at home look for new entertainment options,” Torque Esports President and CEO Darren Cox said.

Cox added that tracking the sustainability of this development will be crucial since many people are being introduced to livestreaming as a potential source of entertainment.

The average number of viewers for video game streams across the four major platforms is up 70 percent year-over-year, according to Stream Hatchet’s numbers. But a significant amount of that growth came in the last four weeks of the quarter during April when most non-essential businesses in the U.S. remained closed.