When Ninja announced his deal to stream exclusively on Mixer last August, the news was groundbreaking for the streaming industry. With a reportedly lucrative contract, the most popular streamer in the world was leaving the most-established livestreaming platform by a large margin.
Not long after that, another one of Twitch’s top talents, Shroud, followed in Ninja’s footsteps and announced an exclusive deal with Mixer as well.
The reportedly massive amount of money that each content creator signed for made it seem as though streaming on Mixer was their end game. But following the recent announcement that Mixer is ending its services in one month, the two highly-influential personalities have some decisions to make.
On June 22, Mixer released a statement saying that it was closing its services. But in a partnership with Facebook Gaming, the platform is looking to provide a way for content creators to move their channel seamlessly to a new platform.
Shroud and Ninja weren’t into the idea, however, according to esports journalist Richard Lewis. With Mixer closing its operations, Shroud and Ninja are once again streaming free agents.
While Facebook Gaming reportedly attempted to negotiate with the content creators to move their exclusivity to Facebook, Lewis said both streamers “opted out.” Along with reportedly receiving full payment for their Mixer contracts, the two are now able to court any platform they please.
Following Mixer’s announcement, both Shroud and Ninja told their fans that they have a significant amount to think about in the coming days. But neither of them gave any indication as to where they might end up after July 22 when Mixer closes its services for good.
For Ninja, there are some hints suggesting that he might make a return to Twitch. After the Mixer announcement, internet sleuths went to the crazy-haired personality’s old Twitch page and found that his “About” section had been updated to show that he plays VALORANT. Due to when Ninja left Twitch last year, the section must have been updated since he left the platform because prior to this April, VALORANT’s closed beta hadn’t even been released.
Though no one has found any information regarding Shroud’s potential next destination, taking a look at how Ninja and Shroud’s time at Mixer affected their brand could provide insight into what they’ll do in the coming months.
Following each influencer’s move to Mixer, their viewership predictably declined.
For Ninja, declining viewership on Mixer was attached to a dip in his broadcast time as well. Meanwhile, the content creator was expanding his brand in other ways by making appearances on shows with more mainstream appeal, like The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, Kevin Hart’s YouTube series Cold as Balls, and Bon Appétit’s Back-to-Back Chef.
Along with getting his own personal skin in Fortnite, Ninja got a pair of custom shoes made in collaboration with Adidas. Despite moving from Twitch and seeing a decline in viewership on Mixer, his business opportunities were still plentiful.
While there’s a strong chance that Ninja could end up back on Twitch, he’s proven that regardless of whether he streams on the platform, his presence and influence on the gaming industry will remain powerful.
In short, Twitch might be the leader as far as options go, but Ninja doesn’t need Twitch.
Shroud’s dip in viewership wasn’t paired with nearly as much mainstream extracurricular activities. But, just like Ninja, his viewership was hindered in part by a decline in airtime.
In Shroud’s first four full months on Mixer, he broadcasted for 842 hours, a sizable drop year-over-year from 1,009 hours of airtime on Twitch from November 2018 through February 2019.
Why come back?
Shroud and Ninja, with some help from their talent agency Loaded, have proven that they can attract lucrative offers from whatever streaming platform they ultimately end up on. So why would they decide to go to Twitch over Facebook Gaming or YouTube?
As far as Facebook Gaming is concerned, the two reportedly have already rejected an offer from the platform while Mixer was negotiating its closure partnership with Facebook. If that’s where they wanted to be, that plan likely would have already been announced.
Perhaps the biggest reason for each content creator to return to Twitch is for the resources and partnerships that the platform can provide.
Think back to when VALORANT’s closed beta started. Twitch had an exclusive partnership with Riot Games to give beta access drops to viewers. While Summit1g and TimTheTatman were hitting the highest viewership marks they’ve ever seen, Shroud and Ninja were playing the game on stream with less than a fourth of the audience.
While that’s one extreme example, there are many opportunities that Twitch can provide as the most established endemic livestream platform in gaming. This isn’t to say that it’s a guarantee that Shroud and Ninja end up back with Twitch. But considering the payout they each already reportedly received from Mixer, it certainly seems like the two could make a return.
Regardless of where they end up, both Shroud and Ninja have proven that, to at least some degree, their audience transcends platform loyalties and the two will be successful wherever they decide to stream next.