Understanding Twitch Streaming Metrics

August 21, 2018

In 2014, Amazon spent $970 million to purchase the online streaming platform Twitch. At the time, much of the industry was confused by the acquisition. In fact, Google had recently decided not to buy the platform largely due to regulatory concerns.

Nobody is questioning the purchase anymore. While there are lifestyle streams available on the platform, the majority of the content available on Twitch is video games being played live by professionals. According to a report released by the marketing research firm Newzoo in February, the esports industry is expected to be worth $905 million this year (which may actually turn out to be a low estimate), $1.1 billion in 2019, and $1.65 billion by the year 2021.

Photo Credit: PCMag.com

And Twitch is at the center of that industry. It’s where fans consume hundreds of hours of content every day, esports stars and streamers connect intimately with their audience, and major events and competitions are broadcast worldwide. The first season of The Overwatch League played out on Twitch, as did the NBA2K League. Twitch features over two million unique streamers each month. Newzoo also did some research into the channel by analyzing 10 months of Twitch service. It found that over 100 million users streamed 800 million hours of esports during that time period.

A recent report from Streamlabs found that, in the first quarter of 2018, Twitch was leading all other streaming services (and topped its previous quarter) with 953 thousand average concurrent viewers. The next closest is YouTube Gaming, but this platform saw a loss of 12 percent for a total of 272 thousand average concurrent viewers. The next in line are Periscope with 94 thousand average concurrent viewers, Facebook with 56 thousand average concurrent viewers, and Microsoft’s Mixer with 9.5 thousand average concurrent viewers. (The report does note that Microsoft’s numbers are likely higher because Streamlabs could not track viewership on Xbox, and Facebook’s numbers are probably higher too because it couldn’t track private live streams shared only with friends.)

Photo Credit: Lightstream

Obviously, this makes Twitch extremely attractive to sponsors and advertisers. Yet, even the interested ones may also be wary about jumping in. Non-endemic sponsors might worry that the audience won’t be receptive to their message or opposed to their presence. Yet, the vast majority of Twitch viewers are used to seeing ads and sponsor logos and appreciate the support of content they enjoy.

Sponsors also worry that a streamer may say something that could be viewed as offensive. That’s becoming less of an issue, as streamers understand the value that sponsors can bring them (also, should a firestorm break out, the public rarely holds sponsors responsible for offensive content as long as they act decisively in distancing themselves from the situation).

The final stumbling block is often the platform itself. Twitch is not a social media channel and it’s not a traditional broadcast network. It’s something else, and that can make it difficult to grasp the full value of a sponsorship. Fortunately, there are a couple of companies working on tools that make it easier to quantify the value of aligning your brand with Twitch. But before you even dive in, there are metrics you can use to get an idea of whether you would like to align with a streamer or not.

Average Concurrent Viewership

This is the average number of people who watch the streamer. Average concurrent viewership is an extremely important metric because it lets you know how many viewers engage with the streamer across a set amount of time.

Viewership is the bread and butter for a streamer because that means those people are locked in on the content being produced.

Monthly Impressions

Average concurrent viewership is an extremely useful metric, but it does not indicate how many new viewers a streamer is gaining or how many he or she is losing. For that, you can look to monthly impressions.

The monthly impressions are how many times a streamer has been visited throughout the month.

To get a determination of how many viewers a streamer is picking up or losing, you can take the average concurrent viewership and multiply it by the number of days in the month. If the result is roughly the same as the monthly impressions, you can surmise that the audience turnover is relatively low and viewership is consistent. If it is higher, that means a lot of people are visiting but not returning. If it is lower, that indicates that the core audience is dwindling and not being replaced.

Photo Credit: We are Blossom

Followers

If you’re used to working with traditional social media, then you’re comfortable with the follower metric. However, for Twitch, followers really don’t mean that much.

A person can be a follower of a streamer and rarely or never watch the streamer’s content. It is not like Twitter where “following” means you automatically see the person’s feed. Someone has to actively tune into a Twitch stream to see the content, whether they are following or not. The average concurrent viewership and monthly impressions metrics are much more useful.

That being said, where monitoring followers can be beneficial is in watching their growth. A steady follower growth with an equal increase in average concurrent viewership indicates that the streamer is increasing in popularity. Whereas a dramatic spike in followers denotes that the streamer did something to gain attention. Whether that will result in an increase in viewers is something only the average concurrent viewership will tell.

Twitch is currently the top performing streaming platform, which means that the sponsorship opportunities are plentiful. Digging into these metrics will get you on the right track for finding your perfect match(es). Of course, just because Twitch is on top right now does not mean that the competition can be discounted. Players like Facebook and YouTube understand how profitable esports is and will continue to refine their offerings to attract viewership.

Navigating the esports industry can be confusing. If you would like to form a sponsorship partnership and could use some professional advice for selecting a platform and choosing a streamer, give our eGency Global experts a call at 972-323-6354.