Twitch, Fortnite Face Increasing Streaming Competition, Research Finds

Credit: Streamlabs / NewzooCredit: Streamlabs / Newzoo

A few months ago it would have been hard to imagine anything challenging Twitch and Fortnite's dominance of the streaming market. According to a new report from Streamlabs and Newzoo today, however, both have faced increasing competition from the likes of YouTube Live and Apex Legends. Neither comes close to beating their counterpart, but their rapid ascension shows that even the streaming market can be subject to upheaval.

Let's get this out of the way at the start: Streamlabs offers numerous tools meant to help streamers broadcast their gameplay, interact with their audiences and make some money while doing so. It used this report to share details about its growth over the last year, but we're going to skip over that information to focus on the data about the streaming market as observed by Newzoo researchers.

Those findings show that streaming hasn't even reached the limits of its potential. People are said to have watched roughly 2.69 billion hours of streaming on Twitch, 651 million hours on YouTube Live and 89.4 million hours on Mixer during the first quarter of 2019. The rising popularity of YouTube Live and Mixer doesn't appear to have come at Twitch's expense; the number of hours watched on Twitch actually rose 7 percent last quarter.

Much of that increase probably went to Twitch's most popular streamers. According to the report, the average YouTube Live streamer has more viewers (52.2) per stream than Twitch (26.1), even though the latter is far more popular. That's likely because it's easier to become a big fish in a smaller pond--YouTube Live has only 1.23 million unique channels compared to the 1.44 million of Mixer and 5.71 million of Twitch. So, even though more people are spending time on Twitch--the service's concurrent viewer count is also quadruple that of YouTube Live's and 30 times higher than Mixer's--it's harder to get noticed on that platform. 

Feeling like it's all but impossible to "make it" on Twitch now could very well send more streamers over to the service's competitors, which could help reduce the gap between Twitch and YouTube Live in the long term.

Credit: Streamlabs / NewzooCredit: Streamlabs / NewzooFortnite didn't weather increased competition as well as Twitch did. Epic Games remains the most-streamed game publisher, according to the report, but the company's battle royale title lost 10 percent of its viewers between Q4 2018 and Q1 2019. The report said that decline can probably be attributed to the rise of Apex Legends, which attracted more than 50 million players shortly after its February debut. Many of those players stream Apex Legends, watch other people stream it, or both. The report named Apex Legends the second most popular title streamed on Twitch last quarter, with Fortnite being the most popular and League of Legends ranking third.

The numbers change a bit when it comes to viewing--League of Legends overtakes Apex Legends in that regard--but the free-to-play battle royale still stays in the top three.

Times are changing. Suddenly it's much easier to think Twitch might not always be the only streaming platform that matters, or that Fortnite isn't destined to dominate over every other title in existence. Barring some kind of catastrophe, neither is at risk of losing the lead any time soon, but at least that lead doesn't seem impossible to overcome.