YouTube, Facebook Destroy Twitch In At Least One Critical Category


We watched almost 7.5 billion hours of live streaming content in the last three months, up 92% from last year. Amazingly, just one company owns a massive 91.1% share of all the hours streamed: the Amazon-owned Twitch.

So Twitch is definitely the 900-pound gorilla of the live-streaming category.

But rivals YouTube and Facebook are significantly ahead of Twitch on at least one important measure: hours watched per hour streamed. In fact, while Twitch has 10X more unique channels than YouTube Gaming and almost 50X more than Facebook, the gap in hours watched is much, much closer.

So even though gamers and other livestreamers broadcasted 206 million hours on Twitch versus only 12.5 million on YouTube Gaming Live and only 7.6 million on Facebook in Q3 2020, Twitch has a total hours watched lead of only about 2.5X over YouTube and 5X on Facebook.

It’s a lead, and it’s a significant lead, but it’s not nearly as big as the company’s advantage in hours streamed over Twitch. In fact, if I run some calculations on the data, for each hour streamed, here’s how many hours are spent watching:

  • Twitch: 23 hours
  • YouTube: 132 hours
  • Facebook: 136 hours

The data is from Streamlabs, which just released its Q3 report on the livestreaming Industry, and there’s a lot of news. Facebook passed the one billion hours viewed milestone for the first time, and YouTube had its biggest-ever increase in number of hours watched. But most of the refugees from Mixer, Microsoft’s failed attempt at a Twitch competitor, appear to have moved to Twitch, which is up 14.5% from last quarter in share of hours streamed.

There are some downward trajectories here.

Twitch’s average concurrent viewership dropped 8% from 2.34 million in Q2 to 2.15 million in Q1. On the one hand, you might think that most of the drop can be attributed to two global trends: Coronavirus shutdowns and summer vacation for students.

On the other hand, Twitch was alone in having a decrease.

While Twitch dropped in viewed content by 377 million hours, YouTube grew by 155 million hours, and Facebook increased 71 million hours.

Ultimately, what we have here is a livestreaming community that has bought into Twitch’s brand as the one and only place to stream, and is not paying sufficient attention to the reality that while it’s the biggest, the competition there is also the fiercest.

Average concurrent viewership on Facebook Gaming might be only 369,000, and YouTube might be only 759,000 — both of which pale in comparison to Twitch’s 2.15 million — but the 10X more channels than YouTube and 50X more than Facebook mean that all those big juicy viewership numbers get divided up into a lot of tiny little pots: almost 10.6 million of them.

And that means fewer viewers per streamer, and fewer hours of viewing per hour of streaming.

Which, if I’m reading the numbers right, spells opportunity for streamers who switch from Twitch.



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