Video live-streaming platform Twitch has reported 3.46 million new streamers between January and May 2020, or 87.81% growth since the beginning of 2020, according to a recent press release by Finbold. The significant rise in streamers can be attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has forced millions across the world to stay at home amidst city-wide lockdowns.

At the height of lockdown restrictions, Twitch’s user growth accelerated from 3.75 million active users in February to 7.21 million in April – a 35.4% growth rate in just 2 months, according to the report. By May, there were about 7.4 million active Twitch streamers globally, far surpassing Twitch’s previous record of 4.54 million active streamers in January 2019. 

Providing much-needed entertainment to millions trapped at home, Twitch is among the many technology companies that have benefitted from the COVID-19 crisis, alongside Amazon, Slack and Zoom, which have seen significant rises in stock prices since March. “Notably, the rise in Twitch streamers was an all-time high figure thanks to coronavirus lockdown,” the press release states. “During this period, movie theatres were closed with no live sports leaving video-game streaming platforms as an option for entertainment.” In addition, engagement with on-demand video services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime and Hulu have skyrocketed, with Netflix reporting record-high penetration of users, according to the Motley Fool yesterday. 

Although Twitch primarily focuses on video game live-streaming, the platform has also garnered attention from music players. Lockdown measures have radicalised music content delivery, with many individual musicians and DJs live-streaming performances from home. In the space of 14 days, Twitch viewership in the music and performing arts category increased by 524%, from 92,000 hours on 8 March to 574,000 hours by 22 March, marking the rise of concerts, individual performances, and virtual festivals.  

Additionally, with many people having been furloughed or laid off, Twitch provides an attractive monetisation opportunity for streamers through donations via PayPal and Patreon, or by working with the platform through the Twitch Affiliate Program and the Twitch Partner Program, which opens up viewer subscriptions, ad revenue, and in-game sales.

As lockdown measures begin to lift worldwide, it is unclear whether the streaming giant’s upward trajectory will continue. However, Twitch has extended multi-year partnerships with popular streamers including Summit1G, Dakotaz and JoshOG in May to ensure the continued production of engaging content.

In the longer-term, live streaming platforms have a massive potential to penetrate new industries. For example, a new “retail-streaming” phenomenon promises to boost e-commerce amidst a global retail slowdown. Similarly, the normalisation of live-streaming could spark a rise in company-run broadcasts, opening up a new channel where brands can actively engage with their consumers in real-time.


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