Twitch Revenue and Usage Statistics (2019)

Mansoor Iqbal

Updated: February 27, 2019

Twitch is a livestreaming platform focused on video games. It was founded by Justin Kan in 2011, originally as a spin-off of Justin.tv. The latter started life in 2007 as a single channel, live broadcasting Kan’s life around the clock – pioneering the concept of ‘lifecasting’.

The website attracted interest from others who were more interested in broadcasting their own lives than viewing that of Kan’s, which had nonetheless served as great exposure for Justin.tv. Acting on this interest, the site relaunched later in 2007, allowing users to create their own channels and broadcast their own content through the platform.

Streaming gaming was not as simple then as it has become today, when – thanks to Twitch – functionality is built into modern games consoles. This, however, was a key area of focus for the nascent company, who accordingly hired a specialist streamer to help people set up video game streaming. This was a prescient move. The gaming category of Justin.tv quickly established itself as the most popular on the site, leading to a decision to spin it out as Twitch.tv.

Before long, Twitch was vastly eclipsing Justin.tv, to the extent that parent company Justin.tv Inc was rebranded at Twitch Interactive. Justin.tv was discontinued in august 2014.

With 45 million unique visitors by October 2013, it was only a matter of time before the big names of digital business came sniffing. In this instance it was Amazon that saw the huge potential of Twitch. And by August 2014, Twitch had become an Amazon property, with just short of $1 billion changing hands in its acquisition of the streaming platform, which was now up to 55 million monthly active users, and accounting for 1.8% of peak internet traffic – behind only Netflix, Apple, and Google.

Traffic continued to grow, with 1.5 million broadcasters and 100 million monthly viewers in 2015, rising to 2.2 million broadcasters and 15 million daily viewers in 2018 – around a million of which could be found using the platform at any given time. The platform is integrated with Amazon Prime and allows streamers to make money by offering in-stream links through which viewers can purchase the games being played.

Twitch broadcasters – perhaps most famously Ninja, who has featured on the cover of ESPN – have become celebrities in their own right. These are not the only celebrities to be found using the platform. The non-tournament record for concurrent viewers was set in March 2018, when the aforementioned Ninja played Fortnite alongside ex-NFL JuJu Smith-Schuster, and musicians Travis Scott and Drake.

Twitch also broadcasts some of the world’s most prominent esports competitions, which offer lucrative sums of prize money to professional players, many of whom are contracted to franchise teams which carry considerable cachet.

If you’re a stranger to the world of the world’s largest videogame livestreaming platform, then read on to see more Twitch statistics, including the latest viewing figures, demographic user breakdowns, and how Twitch shares its revenue.

Table of Contents

Twitch User Statistics

Twitch Usage Statistics

Twitch Revenue Statistics

Key Twitch Statistics

  • 2.2 million daily broadcasters, and 15 million daily Twitch viewers on average
  • Average of 41,000 concurrent Twitch broadcasters, and 1.1 million concurrent Twitch viewers
  • Revenue-sharing Twitch Partners number 27,000, Twitch Affiliates 150,000
  • 560 billion minutes of Twitch viewed over 2018 – a 58% increase on 2017
  • As of 2017, 124 million clips were stored on Twitch, with 1.7 billion views collectively
  • Twitch users watch 95 minutes per day on average
  • Fortnite accounts for 14% of views, and 14% of viewing hours
  • Twitch acquired by Amazon for $1 billion
  • Twitch ranked 30th in the world by Alexa’s web ranking
  • 81.5% of Twitch userbase is male
  • Around 20% of Twitch traffic comes from the US
  • Highest average concurrent viewership on Twitch stands at 1.1 million, for a Counter-Strike: Global Offensive tournament hosted by ELEAGUE in January 2018
  • Ninja most-followed on Twitch, with over 13 million followers
  • Ninja also holds the non-tournament record for concurrent viewers, at 635,000 (playing Fortnite alongside Drake, Travis Scott, and Juju Smith-Schuster)

Twitch User Statistics

As of February 2018, official Twitch statistics set the number of broadcasters at 2.2 million, and the number of unique daily viewers at 15 million, with the number of monthly users pegged at 140 million. Peak concurrent viewership is set at two million.

To put this a little into perspective, in early 2018, Twitch was outstripping MNSBC and CNN in terms of peak concurrent viewership (885,000 and 783,000 respectively). Fox News and ESPN were logging 1.5 million at this point, and thus will have been overtaken by Twitch shortly after the linked report.

With 148 million subscribers, Netflix seems to be the only thing that can compete.

SimilarWeb ranks Twitch 52nd overall in the world, and number one in the video game category. Alexa (notably also part of the Amazon stable) puts Twitch at 30th globally.

Twitch’s popularity has also spilled over into the real world, in the form of TwitchCon. The 2017 edition, held in Long Beach played host to 50,000 visitors. Audience numbers for the 2018 edition are not available, but the San Jose event suffered from overcrowding, suggesting numbers were high.

2019 will see the inaugural TwitchCon Europe, held in Berlin.

Twitch user demographics

Twitch is an overwhelmingly male-dominated platform, with men making up 81.5% of its userbase . Over half – 55% to be precise – are aged between 18-34.

Twitch statistics from SimilarWeb dating from December 2018, show that the US is by far the biggest Twitch market in the world, accounting for over one fifth of web traffic (desktop). It is followed by Germany and Russia, both of which account for 6% of traffic, then Brazil and the UK at 5% apiece.

Twitch viewership by country: SimilarWeb

Twitch viewership by country: SimilarWeb

Source: SimilarWeb

Alexa gives roughly analogous findings, though puts the UK in 2nd. Canada also sneaks into the top five, at the expense of Brazil.

Notably, Twitch was banned in the potentially-huge Chinese market in September 2018. Twitch had reportedly climbed to third in the Chinese iOS store shortly before.

Twitch viewership by country: Alexa

Twitch viewership by country: Alexa

Source: Alexa

Numbers from TwitchTracker, which collates real-time as well as long-term Twitch statistics, show an inexorable rise in the number in average concurrent viewers and channels. While at the time of writing, 2019 is fairly young, this growth shows no sign of abating, with an 17% increase over the 2018 average. Average viewer numbers averaged 1.1 million over 2018, with average concurrent live channels standing at 41,000.

Average concurrent channels and viewers on Twitch, 2012-2019

Average concurrent channels and viewers on Twitch, 2012-2019

Source: TwitchTracker

We see the same upward curve in terms of broadcasters, the numbers of which seem to have shot up in 2018 compared to preceding years. Over the course of the year, unique monthly broadcasters averaged at 3.4 million.

Partner numbers have also been steadily on the up (see below), showing that more and more Twitch users are monetising their time on the platform. It should be noted that this is a metric of which Twitch itself is ultimately in control, though, of course, is reliant on broadcaster and viewer numbers

Monthly broadcasters and partners, 2012-2018

Monthly broadcasters and partners, 2012-2018

Source: TwitchTracker

Twitch partner content creators and affiliates

Twitch allows broadcasters to monetise their efforts through the Twitch Partner Program and the Twitch Affiliate Program. The former represents the more lucrative and prestigious of of the two programs.

The number of Twitch video creator partners, who profit from their content, was reported (as above) at 27,000, as of February 2018 – representing growth of 10,000 over the equivalent point in 2017. Twitch Partners are able to make money from their streams through subscriptions to their channels, from cheers (essentially a form of micro-tipping), and through revenue generated by ads played on their channel. They are able to access a number of additional features to help them make the most of this – such as the ability to store on-demand recordings of gameplay for 60 days, consideration for special promotional opportunities, and channel customisation options.

Applicants for the Twitch Partner Program are considered on a case-by-case basis, with a focus on average concurrent viewership figures and a regular broadcasting schedule. They also need to complete the ‘Path to Partner’ achievement, which involves streaming for 25 hours over 12 unique days over a 30-day period, during which their viewership must average 75.

The number of Affiliate streamers at the same point stood at 150,000. Twitch Affiliates are able to make money from their streams through cheers, paid subscriptions, and commission from game sales generated from click throughs on their streams. In order to apply to become Affiliates, users must have broadcast at least 500 minutes over seven unique broadcast days over the period of a month, during which time they must have an average of three concurrent viewers. They must also have a minimum of 50 followers.

Most-popular Twitch streamers

Ninja might be the name everyone knows, but that doesn’t necessarily mean he’s always top of the Twitch viewership charts. According to TwitchMetrics, who take average concurrent viewership of a streamer’s last 15 streams as their measure, Ninja only ranks 17th, as of mid-January 2019.

Rank Name Content Average concurrent viewers
1 thegameawards The Games Awards 226,305
2 dota2ti Dota 2 107,740
3 GamesDoneQuick Variety 99,588
4 Fortnite Fortnite 91,194
5 Dota2ti_ru Dota 2 87,557
6 OverwatchLeague Overwatch 67,024
7 SinatixHD Fortnite 64,900
8 FACEIT TV Counter Strike: Global Offensive 59,658
9 Riot Games League of Legends 57,936
10 LegitOpsII Boxing Fight 51,899

Data source: TwitchMetrics

All of the top-10 broadcast in English, with the exception of dota2ti_ru, who broadcasts in Russian – as their name suggests. It should be noted that the Game Awards are an annual event that takes place in December, hence the high viewing figures at this point in the year. The high figure, however, does indicate the popularity of the awards, and the propensity of Twitch viewers to log in to view special events

If we just look at follower count, however, Ninja comfortably takes his place at the top of the pile.

Most-followed on Twitch

Position Name Followers (thousands)
1 Ninja 13,205
2 Shroud 5,191
3 TSM_Myth 4,773
4 Tfue 4,603
5 Summit1g 3,523
6 Riot Games 3,332
7 Dakotaz 3,307
8 TimTheTatman 3,305
9 TSM_Daequan 3,282
10 DrDisrespect 3,094

Data source: TwitchStats

A story on Kotaku reveals that there may be some underhand tactics at play when it comes to Twitch statistics concerning viewership. Namely that the until-recently Twitch-owned Gamepedia auto plays streams from Twitch onto pages concerning the game in question. Naturally this inflates the number of viewers with junk views, and is a potentially thorny issue when it comes to advertising pitches.

After the acquisition by Amazon, Twitch began to allow non-gaming content through Twitch Creative. Twitch has reportedly pursued a number of celebrities (including Will Smith) and online influencers to in order to expand beyond game content, and ultimately challenge YouTube as a content platform. Successful acquisitions thus far include Tanner Baungradt from YouTube (four million subscribers) and the right to stream minor NBA games and the NFL’s Thursday Night Football – diversifying from the world of esports.

While YouTube massively outstrips Twitch in terms of viewers at present (140 million vs. 1.9 billion monthly viewers), the smaller rival is clearly seen as enough of a threat that it has offered content creators big money to not defect to their Amazon-owned rival. This is particularly key in a landscape where influencer marketing is increasingly powerful resource for brands.

The Verge reports, however, that YouTube need not fear too much as of yet – as many of its big stars who have tried out Twitch continue to prefer the Alphabet (Google) owned streaming behemoth. The latter, the piece notes is better suited to produced and edited videos, compared to Twitch’s livestreaming and constant interaction with viewers.

The rivalry, of course, is two-way – and with video game streaming a growth market, YouTube has attempted to move into the space itself. As of early 2018, however, it was lagging well behind Twitch for this type of content. Indeed, it even lost viewers between Q4 2017 and Q1 2018, despite a 39% increase in viewing activity over said period.

Concurrent viewers: Twitch vs. YouTube Live Gaming and others

Concurrent viewers: Twitch vs. YouTube Live Gaming and others

Source: Pitchbook

Facebook also moved to offer revenue to those who stream through its Gaming Creator program, in a clear bid to rival Twitch. This is offered through a partner program which pays creators, with an additional tipping-based revenue stream – as offered by Twitch.

Twitch and esports

As well as the intimate format of watching single streamers play game while chatting to viewers, the rise of Twitch is closely tied with the growing esports industry. Esports represent, in short, the professionalisation of videogame playing. Some of the most eye-catching Twitch statistics fall into this category.

TwitchCon hosted the finals of Fortnite’s Fall Skirmish tournament, which saw a total of $10 million in prize money distributed among the winners. Over four million unique viewers tuned in to watch tournament content, which cumulatively weighed in at over 24 hours. This was vastly eclipsed by the 2017 LoL (League of Legends) tournament, into which 106.2 million viewers tuned to watch competitors compete for $4.9 million. These are by no means the biggest prize pots available in esports.

The Dota 2-based International 2018, for instance, saw $25.5 million in prize money up for grabs, and was watched by 15 million people, on platforms including Twitch, in August 2018.

In terms of prize money alone, then, this shows that the biggest esports tournaments can very much compete with many prestigious tournaments in the world of traditional sports.

Esports prize pots vs. traditional sport

Esports prize potsSource: Washington Post

It should be noted that 1.2 million of the 15 million International 2018 viewers were Chinese – highlighting the potential damage to the Twitch userbase from the loss of this market.

Newzoo figures quoted by CNBC show that the Asia-Pacific region is home to 53% of the global esports audience. This is followed by Europe at 18%, and North America on 14%.

This rise in popularity has been matched by money. Since 2012, VC investment into the esports sector has increased exponentially. By May 2018, investment nearly matched the entire year of 2017 – which itself represented a $15 million increase on the 2016.

VC activity in esport sector

VC activity in e-sport sector

Source: Pitchbook

Market research firm Newzoo estimates that the ‘esports economy’ will be worth close to $1.5 billion by 2020.

Esports market global revenue

Esports market global revenue

Source: Statista

The current record for concurrent Twitch viewership was set by the ELEAGUE Counter-Strike: Global Offensive Major Grand Finals 2018 – with 1.1 million viewers at one stage (see Twitch Usage Statistics for more records).

This revenue growth is predicated on audience growth. It’s estimated that the global esports audience will grow to 600 million by 2023 – giving it a far larger audience than most traditional sports…

Esports audience, predicted growth

Esports audience, predicted growth

Source: Business Insider

In the US, this audience is primarily aged 18-34 (62%). Moreover, 56% of 13-21 year-old men believed that these sports were relevant to them; compared with 44% for traditional sports.

Remaining focused on the US – esports are predicted to overtake everything except the NFL in terms of audience numbers by 2021.

US esports audience vs. traditional sports

US esports audience vs. traditional sports

Source: Syracuse University

So what stake does Twitch have in the growth of esports? Well, although esports tournaments regularly fill huge real-life stadia usually reserved for pop royalty or high-profile sporting events, the largest share of viewing takes place online. According to Newzoo, Twitch commands a 12% share of the market, compared to 8% held by YouTube (these statistics pertain to Q1 2018).

Twitch has also signed several lucrative deals with esports organisers to stream proceedings. Including paying $90 million to Blizzard for rights to the Overwatch, partnering with ELEAGUE for the aforementioned Counter-Strike: Global Offensive tournaments, and signing an exclusive deal with G2 Esports.

Twitch Usage Statistics

According to TwitchTracker, 560 billion minutes of Twitch were watched over 2018 – rising from 255 billion minutes in 2017 – an increase of 58%.

Twitch users view 95 minutes per day on average (2017). SimilarWeb peg the average time spent on the site per session as 6:30 minutes, split between four pages. Alexa finds a slightly lower three pages over 5:39 minutes.

The average total number of Twitch hours viewed has been steadily on the rise since the early days (though not always representing a continuous upward trend). As of the last quarter of 2018, the figure stood at 854 million hours. This is well up on the 580 million hours posted at the same point in 2017, and over double the 412 million hours reported in the last quarter of 2015.

While 2018 can hardly be called Twitch’s breakthrough year, certainly the figures posted over the course of the year seem to indicate a new level of cultural significance – if we take hours viewed as our measure – as well we might.

Average Twitch hours viewed by quarter, millions of hours

Average Twitch hours viewed by quarter, millions of hours

Data source: TwitchTracker

According to Twitch statistics from the official 2017 end of year report, 124 million clips were stored on Twitch, garnering 1.7 billion views between them.

Most-popular Twitch content

The same report revealed that most-played new game of the year was Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG). This was followed by rival Fortnite, Destiny 2, Fifa 18, and For Honour.

TwitchTracker monitors the most-viewed games on Twitch by viewers and hours viewed on a weekly basis. At the time of writing (mid-January 2019), Fortnite was in the lead, commanding average viewership of 174,000 – just shy of 14% of total viewership. This was followed by League of Legends (148,000, or 12%). These two are comfortably out in front, with third-place Just Chatting (non-game content, with 83,000 viewers – 7%) claiming just over half of the League of Legends figure, and less than half of Fornite’s.

Most-viewed games on Twitch by viewers, mid-January 2019

Most-viewed games on Twitch by viewers, mid-January 2019

Source: TwitchTracker

In terms of viewing hours, Fortnite also lays claim to a 14% share, clocking 29 million hours (this is over the course of a week). League of Legends again clocks 12% at 25 million, with Just Chatting at 7% and 14 million hours.

Most-viewed games on Twitch by viewing hours, mid-January 2019

Most-viewed games on Twitch by viewing hours, mid-January 2019

Source: TwitchTracker

Fornite is helped to its lead by the huge average number of channels it occupies – a huge 15,000. That’s worth 26% of the total. This compares to a relatively paltry 5% share for League of Legends (3,000), or 4% for third-place Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 (2,400). Just Chatting averages at 1,100. While this is relatively low down on the list, we can see that individual Just Chatting channels command relatively high levels of viewership. Fortnite viewing hours, on the other hand, are spread over a vast selection of channels.

Indeed, according to TwichStats, the best game to stream in terms of the ratio of viewers to channels is Slots. With Poker coming in at third, it seems that casino-themed content is the way to go for Twitch broadcasters looking to gain high viewership. Hearthstone comes in second.

TwitchMetrics shows that the most-viewed streamer on JustChatting is Greekgodx, who logged 1.4 million viewing hours over the 30 days up to the time of writing (mid-January 2019). He is followed by (failverde) at 1 million hours, and RajjPatel at 960,000 hours.

Looking back over the past couple of years, we can see that most of the big hitters have been relatively consistent, with Fortnite and to a lesser extent Just Chatting entering the scene decisively in September 2017 and September 2018 respectively. Counter Strike: Global Offensive has seen some dramatic spikes in viewership (connected with tournaments, no doubt). While PUBG claimed a significant share of viewership from its first appearance in 2017 over the rest of that year, its popularity has tailed off in comparison with the seemingly unstoppable Fortnite.

Most-viewed games by number of viewers, Jan 2017-Jan 2019

Most-viewed games by number of viewers, Jan 2017-Jan 2019

Source: TwitchTracker

While Fornite’s current dominance is indisputable, it does not top the all-time list for most-viewed game. That accolade goes to League of Legends by some distance. Released in 2009, it has the advantage of longevity (these stats cover 2015 to date, but a six-year head start is not to be sniffed at), and currently commands over twice as many views as second-placed Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. The top two are notable for being tournament favourites – always a good way to draw in viewers. CS:GO is closely followed by Dota 2, with Fortnite closing in on fourth place.

Most-viewed games: All-time (Jan 2015-Jan 2019), millions of views

Most-viewed games: All-time (Jan 2015-Jan 2019), millions of views

Data source: TwitchStats

TwitchStrike serves as a resource to help broadcasters pick the optimum content and broadcast time in order to attract peak viewership. To help do this, they produce heatmaps looking at viewership and broadcast levels at any given hour during the week.

Stats are available for any given game/content. For the purposes of succinctness, we’ve stuck here to the top-three here: Fortnite, League of Legends, and Just Chatting. The following Twitch statistics cover a week’s period in mid-January 2019. The top 5% of broadcasters for each game are included (one has the option to remove them, as a resource for smaller broadcasters competing at a different level), and the time zone is EST.

As one might expect, peak broadcasting times for Fortnite occur later in the day, with the peak starting earlier and earlier as we get through the week. Monday sees some leftover action from the weekend, then things get a bit quieter midweek.

Viewership trends are roughly in line with this, though they do tend to trail off a little earlier in the day, with the peak occurring in the afternoon. Weekends stand out less also, with Monday seemingly the day users are most inclined to while away the day watching others play Fortnite.

Fortnite: Channels and viewers heatmap

Fortnite: Channels and viewers heatmap

Source: TwitchStrike

In term of broadcast levels, we see more or less the same trend for League of Legends as is evident for Fornite, with an evening peak, and earlier weekend peaks. Broadcasting, however, seems more consistent over the course of the week.

Viewership, on the other hand, is a bit more sporadic – with Friday afternoons and Saturday daytime being peak viewership hours. Monday and to a lesser extent Tuesday also log spikes in League of Legends viewing.

League of Legends: Channels and viewers heatmap

League of Legends: Channels and viewers heatmap

Source: TwitchStrike

Peak Just Chatting broadcasting hours occur a little earlier in the day than either of the top-two games, with Friday and to a lesser extent Saturday evenings representing the weekend peak.

The viewership heatmap is a bit more mottled, with the darkest patches spread out with less consistency. It seems, however, to pick up towards the end of week, with Thursday-Saturday evenings, and Sunday afternoon representing the times when Twitch users are most inclined to settle in for non-game focused content.

Just Chatting: Channels and viewers heatmap

Just Chatting: Channels and viewers heatmap

Source: TwitchStrike

Twitch records

The ELEAGUE Counter-Strike: Global Offensive Major Grand Finals (a tournament played on the aforementioned game for a share of a $1 million pot) was the first stream to record over a million concurrent viewers. This was bested a year later, when the next edition of the same tournament upped its own concurrent viewership record to 1.1million.

Tournament/esports channels dominate the concurrent viewership records (Fortnite hosts its own tournaments – the figure listed here is not from normal play), with the two ELEAGUE records someway in front, with the rest of the top-10 ranging from 585,000 to 698,000. Ninja is the only individual streamer to break into the top-10 list, with the famous Drake stream. sponjslice is the next highest, at 521,000 – putting them in 12th place.

Concurrent viewership records by channel, thousands

Concurrent viewership records by channel, thousands

Data Source: TwitchStats

The highest concurrent viewership for a channel was previously held by League of Legends player Tyler1, who after returning from a two-year ban for uncivil behaviour, amassed close to 380,000 concurrent viewers in January 2018. Amazingly, he had reached 350,000 before the stream even started. This left the previous record of 245,000, held by Faker aka Lee Sang-Hyeok (a three-times League of Legends world champion), dead in the water. Tyler didn’t hold the record for long, overtaken the following month by a return to streaming from DrDisrespect, peaking at 388,000. DrDisrespect was also not able to hold it for long; the record was smashed by Ninja and his celebrity cadres (Drake, JuJu Smith-Schuster, and Travis Scott) at 635,000 in March 2018.

The most-viewed clip of all time is a visibly-distressed DrDisrespect, in the aftermath of shots being fired at his home, breaking his windows, while playing Call of Duty: Black Ops 4, with 3.3 million views (it was later found to be a BB gun).

This is followed by the far more wholesome spectacle of JurassicJunkie screaming in fright after being walked in on by his infant daughter while playing the horror-game Outlast 2, with 2.8 million views.

Concurrent viewership during the launch of Bungie and Activision’ Destiny 2 peaked at 436,000, making this the most concurrently-viewed game launch in history.

Sources of Twitch traffic

According to SimilarWeb, the vast majority of Twitch traffic is direct – around 83% in total. This is followed by social sources (9.3%) and searches (6.2%). Of these searches, 99.9% are organic.

Of the social sources, it is unsurprising that YouTube leads the way, given the visual format of the two platforms. Twitter follows, with the resonance here found in the digestible nature of the clips, and Reddit comes third, with presumably significant overlap in the youthful audiences of the two.

All three sites feature in the most-visited other sites of Twitch visitors.

Top social sources of Twitch traffic

Top social sources of Twitch traffic

Source: SimilarWeb

In its analysis of ‘upstream sites’ – i.e. the sites which users visited immediately before visiting Twitch, Alexa also finds YouTube at the top of the pile, with 20% of visitors to Twitch using YouTube in the moments before their visit. Notably, we find two Russian-focused sites in the top-five. Social network VK.com, and search engine Yandex.

Aside from these we see the usual suspects of Reddit and Google.

Top sites visited immediately before Twitch

Top sites visited immediately before Twitch

Source: Alexa

Twitch Revenue Statistics

Twitch was bought by Amazon in August 2014, for $970 million in an all-cash deal. It is therefore difficult to disentangle Twitch revenue from that if its parent company’s empire. Amazon brought in $56.6 billion in revenue over Q3 2018, and a total of $177.9 billion over 2017.

This is what we do know: Twitch makes money through two main channels. Advertising and subscriptions. In the year of the Amazon takeover, revenue was pegged at $1.6 billion, according to Nielson SuperData. This equated to 53% of the gaming video content market that years, estimated to be $3.8 billion.

Twitch advertising revenue

Twitch CEO Emmett Shear announced in August 2018 that he was setting a $1 billion target for ad revenue. This is a little bit over the double the level that Twitch currently brings in, and would account for a creditable chunk of Amazon’s current level of ad revenue (this is on the up, with the 2018 total set to top $10 billion).

Twitch is noted for being a platform through which advertisers can get access to a hard-to-reach market of young men – most of whom do not watch traditional television and use ad-blocking technology online.

Twitch and AWS

In Q3 2018, Amazon Web Services (cloud computing) brought in $6.7 billion worth of revenue for Amazon (and over $10.5 billion over H1). AWS has been a massive asset to Amazon, driving a spike in profitability in recent years.

Part of AWS is Amazon’s Lumberyard game development platform. This provides game developers with Twitch integration for new titles, giving them a channel through which they can foster engagement in the gaming community. As the success of games like Fortnite, League of Legends, and Dota 2, as well as Twitch itself, demonstrates, the social aspect of gaming is more important than ever. This integration is set to be a considerable boon to developers looking to build communities and longevity around their games.

Twitch subscriber revenue

Subscribers have two options. They can also opt for the cheaper Twitch Turbo service ($8.99/month). This offers ad-free streaming – a service that was controversially removed from the more-expensive ($10.99) Twitch Prime subscription in September 2018. Aside from that, subscribers to Twitch Turbo get access to various aesthetic upgrades, the ability to save clips for 60 days (rather than the standard 14), and improved customer support.

While Twitch Prime (free for subscribers to the associated Amazon Prime service in certain countries, and to Prime Video subscribers in 200 more) no longer offers ad-free service for users, it does share other features with its cheaper relation – namely storage, support, and aesthetic options. It also includes one free channel subscription per month, and access to exclusive game content and in-game ‘loot’.

Twitch Partner/Affiliate revenue

Non-Prime or Turbo subscribers are also a potential revenue stream for Twitch. Users are able to subscribe to Affiliate or Partner channels for $4.99 (streamers may also charge higher tier-prices of $9.99 and $24.99 for more content/access). The revenue is split 50/50 between the streamer and Twitch. Subscribers get access to various extras, such as HD video, access to archives, exclusive chat sessions, and special emojis (it seems like getting access to special emojis is a key element of Twitch’s revenue-generating plans).

Partners can also choose to run ads on their streams, receiving a cut of the revenue. It is anticipated that this will be opened to Affiliates in the future.

Through the Partner and Affiliate schemes – particularly the latter – high-profile streamers are potentially able to make good money streaming on Twitch.

Cheers are another prospective source of revenue for Twitch broadcasters. Launched in June 2016, this is essentially a form of digital tipping, made through Twitch’s own currency of ‘Bits’. These are priced at $1.40 for 100 up to $308 for 25,000 (on top of which purchasers must pay local taxes). As of April 2017, this had brought in $12-14 million worth of revenue. US Twitch users can also earn Bits by watching ads.

For every 100 Bits-worth of cheers a content creator receives, they earn $1 (1 cent per cheer), with Twitch pocketing the difference. This is not limited to Partners and Affiliates.

Ninja – real name Tyler Blevins – reportedly earns $500,000/month streaming Fortnite gameplay. This revenue does not all come from Twitch, as he also is followed by five million people on YouTube. Cheers from Twitch and Amazon Prime subscribers make up a good proportion of his income, he told journalists.

It is impossible to gauge total Twitch earnings, as neither subscriber count (distinct from non-paying followers) and ad-revenue are not shared publicly.

Influencer Marketing Hub purports to have a tool that allows subscriber count to be measured. This finds – unsurprisingly – Ninja at the top of the pile with 52,000 subscribers (140 of which pay $9.99 tier-2 fess, and 105 on the $24.99 tier-3). Shroud, on 44,000 (167/98) in second, followed by TimTheTatMan (39,000, 130/253 – one to watch if trying to ascertain the value of a tier-3 subscription)

Regardless of the number of subscribers, there has been a huge rise in the number of people making money from Twitch over the past couple of years, with an 86% increase in those bringing in revenue between 2017 and 2018.

Twitch acquisitions

Twitch has acquired four different businesses since it was bought by Amazon.

  • Goodgame

In December 2014, Twitch acquired Goodgame – a full-service talent and content agency dedicated to the esports and videogame broadcasting industries. In an announcement to mark to acquisition, Twitch focused on the agency’s model, which they said allows content creators to focus on their output, while more effectively monetising their efforts.

  • Curse

Curse makes voiceover communications systems, game guides (including the wiki Gamepedia), and game mod platforms, around which likeminded communities of users gather. The Curse acquisition was announced in August 2016, with Twitch seemingly focused on the 30 million users it looked set to bring in. Curse was sold to gaming wiki/community empire Fandom in December, in the wake of allegations that auto plays of Twitch streams on Gamepedia were artificially inflating view counts.

  • ClipMine

Twitch announced it had acquired ClipMine in August 2018. ClipMine started life in 2015. Initially using crowdsourced text overlaid onto videos, the app moved on to embrace computer vision and machine learning to help users find content within videos. All while providing metrics on video and section popularity. Esports were a particular area of focus for ClipMine.

  • Pursuit

Pursuit, formerly known as Revlo, came under Twitch’s control in December 2018. The company initially functioned as a fan engagement platform centred on customised virtual currencies creators could share with viewers, as well as offering chat functionality. This was discontinued in 2017, with the newly-named Pursuit offering advanced esports analytics. Twitch took on the company’s team, but all products will be discontinued.

Twitch funding rounds

According to Crunchbase, Twitch has held two main finding rounds, in September of 2012 and 2013 respectively. The first was worth $15 million, led by Bessemer Venture Partners, the second $20 million led by Thrive Capital.

Final Thoughts

A platform on which people watch other people play videogames might once have been considered dangerous folly. Yet, in this second decade of the 21st century, it would be dangerous folly to ignore the rise of Twitch.

Indeed, at a time when spectators cram into stadia to watch pro videogamers as if they were rock stars, with millions of eyeballs on top of this online, watching videogames clearly has its place in the 21st century cultural pantheon.

While esports may draw in the real headline figures, it’s the intimate everyday relationships between streamers on which Twitch is truly built. It is often said that videogames are all about community – well, here’s the evidence. Twitch provides a place in which an often-maligned group can come together around the activities they love. In doing so, they have become an influential force in the online media landscape. Not to mention a lucrative one, for anyone interested in reaching an audience of young, male, digital natives.

Coming under the aegis of Amazon has most certainly changed the outlook. Twitch on its own may well have continued to pull in eyeballs and revenue, and innovated on its own steam. As a subsidiary of one of the world’s most-valuable companies, the paradigm is different, however – with Twitch positioned ultimately to further the parent company’s agenda. With Amazon offering game development through AWS, Twitch’s involvement with the industry around which it is built looks set to deepen.

We should also look out for developments outside of the gaming world. While YouTube and Facebook make efforts to encroach on Twitch’s territory, Amazon’s ambitions seem to be focused on returning fire by moving into non-game content. The Twitch universe is built on personalities – also known as influencers. With these figures inspiring the type of loyalty brands would kill to get, this seems as good a base as any on which to build a content platform.

Whether Twitch’s livestreaming format works with this remains to be seen – but as the rise of Twitch itself has proven, the future of web content is a mug’s game to all but those roundly in the know.