Microsoft shook up the video game streaming world last month when it announced that it is permanently shutting down Mixer. The move was due to a lack of public interest and the fact that Twitch still dominates the streaming market. For streamers that called Mixer home, the announcement came as a shock.
That includes high-profile professional gamers like Tyler “Ninja” Blevins. After landing a $20-30 million deal to stream exclusively on the platform last year, he is now free to choose a new home.
Ninja’s reemergence is noteworthy for many reasons. Within 20 minutes of starting his YouTube stream, Blevins attracted more than 160,000 concurrent viewers. That figure dropped to about 120,000 shortly afterward. Even so, it’s an impressive number considering that the gamer is new to streaming on YouTube.
At this point, Ninja still hasn’t committed to streaming exclusively on any platform—including YouTube. Rather, he is putting his star power on display as he works to negotiate a new exclusive deal. Esports consultant Rod “Slasher” Breslau says that Ninja is “in negotiations with streaming platforms and no exclusive deal has yet been signed.”
sources: Ninja is currently in negotiations with streaming platforms and no exclusive deal has yet been signed, including YouTube. today's YouTube live stream from Ninja is all on his own. maybe he'll stream on Twitch too.
— Rod Breslau (@Slasher) July 8, 2020
When Microsoft shut down Mixer, it also struck a deal with Facebook Gaming. It allows current Mixer streamers to transfer their partner status to Facebook’s platform. At the time, Breslau reported that Facebook offered Ninja a contract worth almost twice as much as the one he signed with Mixer.
Of course, since Blevins still doesn’t have a permanent home, it means he declined the multi-million dollar offer. That could mean top streamers are in for a massive payday as the few game streaming platforms left jostle for their exclusive rights. With Mixer out of the picture, only Twitch, YouTube, and Facebook Gaming remain as major players in the space.
It’s clear that video game streaming isn’t going away. Mixer’s failure to attract viewers isn’t a reflection of the overall streaming industry. In fact, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, streaming numbers for Twitch, the industry leader, are through the roof.
So far this year viewers have watched more than 525 billion minutes. On average, there are just under two million people tuning in at any given time. During the peak of coronavirus-related lockdowns in April, Twitch grew by a shocking 52 percent month-over-month.
Aside from Ninja, other high-profile gamers who have also departed Mixer will be looking for new homes. Among them is Michael “Shroud” Grzesiek, who signed a multi-million dollar deal with the Microsoft platform. Like Ninja, Shroud also turned down a massive contract to transition to Facebook Gaming.
For the streaming industry, it isn’t clear what comes next. It will likely be decided by where streamers like Ninja and Shroud end up. If they return to Twitch, the rest of the competition will likely be crushed. If they again opt to join a smaller platform, the streaming world could become competitive once again.