The most-watched Twitch channels in 2020

Personality streamers were the driving force in Twitch’s success this year.

Screengrab via Twitch.tv/xQcOW

For yet another year, Ninja’s hours-watched record from 2018 is safe. 

While Twitch had a record number of hours watched which were disproportionately from personal channels, no one came remotely close to the blue-haired phenom’s more-than-234-million hours watched. 

In 2020, xQc, Gaules, and Summit1g posted the second, third, and fourth most hours watched of any streamers on Twitch for a calendar year. But the spread-out interests of viewers and rise in channel options has made it nearly impossible for anyone to match Ninja from two years ago. 

Due in part to the COVID-19 pandemic, personality streamers were the driving force in Twitch’s success this year, as many esports events were canceled, making millions of hours in viewership potential go unseen.

In 2019, three different dedicated esports channels were among the top 10 most-watched, but only one of those channels was in the top 10 this year, according to Twitch statistics website Sully Gnome.

Top 10 most-watched channels 

Twitch’s most-watched channels in 2020 via Sully Gnome

Top streamer: xQc

Not even a short ban could stop xQc from being the most-watched streamer on Twitch in 2020. While the former Overwatch League pro’s skill as a gamer is unquestionable, his massive popularity on the platform has come largely from his boisterous personality.

Just Chatting was his most-watched category this past year with more than 26 million hours watched across 746 hours of airtime. Much of that included “reaction” content that has become prevalent on Twitch. 

Outside of that, xQc has grown his stream through playing a wide variety of games. In 2020, xQc aired 14 different games for more than 30 hours, and arguably more impressively, he played 48 games for more than 10 hours.

xQc’s most-watched games in 2020 via Sully Gnome

Breakout streamer: NickMercs

Previously known for his Fortnite gameplay using a console controller, NickMercs took his stream to a new level this year. While he’s still playing battle royale games primarily, his shift toward less cartoonish titles has paid dividends. 

In 2020, Nick’s 67.8 million hours watched on Twitch represented a nearly 70-percent year-over-year increase in viewership. Meanwhile, he saw an 80-percent boost in average viewers to just more than 34,000. 

The bulk of Nick’s viewership came during his Call of Duty: Warzone airtime, but it wasn’t just from playing the game. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Nick’s monthly online MFAM Gauntlet Warzone tournament helped boost viewership significantly as in-person esports events everywhere were canceled.

What’s next?

With Just Chatting sitting as the most-watched form of Twitch content by a large margin and xQc leading all channels, it’s clear that people aren’t just tuning into streams for gameplay. 

The most successful streamers right now are ones that have strong established personalities like xQc, NickMercs, Tyler1, and Summit1g.

The specific games that streamers play are becoming less and less important to their success on Twitch. Instead, a streamer’s ability to craft personality-driven content regardless of what they’re doing is imperative.

In 2021, you will surely see many of the same faces sitting at the top of the charts on Twitch, and it shouldn’t be a surprise to see other influencers like TimTheTatman, Asmongold, Tfue, or Sodapoppin push their way into the top 10 as well.