The world of video game livestreaming continued its growth in April amid the global COVID-19 pandemic by posting a 99-percent year-over-year increase in hours watched, according to Arsenal.gg, StreamElement’s analytics partner.
Arsenal and StreamElement’s monthly report says the industry had 3.934 billion hours watched across Twitch, YouTube Gaming, Facebook Gaming, and Mixer this past month, up from 1.971 billion last April.
“”The shelter-in-place mandate has clearly elevated the amount of livestreamed hours watched, bolstering an industry that already had a solid upward trajectory,” Stream Elements CEO Doron Nir said. “Time spent watching livestreams has not only grown significantly month-over-month, it has grown almost 100 percent year-over-year, with our expectation that it’s going to continue to be a major vehicle for entertainment in the years ahead.”
The launch of VALORANT’s closed beta was among the main reasons for the huge bump in viewership. The new tactical shooter being developed by Riot absolutely smashed records for Twitch viewership by a game early in its life with 334,165,761 hours watched on the platform.
Though many factors played a role in the game’s success, it managed to generate more than double what any other category could on the platform. A large chunk of that viewership came from viewers looking to get access to the VALORANT beta. Once the game went live about a week into April, the only way for fans to get into the game was by getting a randomly rewarded in-game Twitch drop.
Outside of VALORANT, Twitch’s Just Chatting category continued its consistent month-over-month growth, posting 134,769,955 hours watched. That was paired with a 138-percent growth for the relatively young category year-over-year.
Just Chatting was established as a category on Twitch in the fall of 2018, when the “IRL” category was divided into a plethora of subcategories. Since then, the platform has seen a steady growth from Just Chatting with an increasing number of viewers seeking out content creators who react to the content of others and directly interact with their audience.
While the global pandemic has caused an influx of viewership for Twitch overall, it has disproportionately resulted in more viewership for music and performing arts content on Twitch.
With most, if not all, in-person concerts, conventions, and events being canceled or postponed, online streams by artists looking to cultivate their audience and give back to fans have increased significantly in popularity.
U.S. President Donald Trump declared a national state of emergency on March 13. Since then, music and performing arts content on Twitch has risen exponentially. With April being the first full month after Trump’s declaration, the content saw it’s biggest year-over-year growth with 17 million hours watched on Twitch, up from 3.6 million the year before.
“The numbers speak for themselves,” Arsenal.gg CEO Stu Grubbs said. “Now more than ever, musicians are using quarantine time to bring their art into millions of living rooms and connect with their fans.”
It’s unclear if some of these figures will be sustainable long-term or if the streaming industry will see a decline as states and countries slowly open more facilities and recover from this pandemic. But with streams getting more of a spotlight than normal, it wouldn’t be surprising for platforms like Twitch to continue to experience year-over-year growth later in the year.