Quarantine leads to new peak in popularity for Twitch



Twitch has become more and more popular after quarantine. https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Lily Howard

Twitch has always attracted a large audience, but BackLinko statistics show that in the past year, its popularity and 140 million monthly visitors have boosted it into the top 40 most visited websites online.

Twitch is a video-sharing platform that was created in 2011 and mainly focuses on gaming content and livestreaming. Because of its focus on live entertainment, it fosters unique interactions between creators and audiences that separates it from other platforms.

Junior Aaron Diament of Manalapan, who has been streaming on the platform for over two years, has experienced this type of interaction while broadcasting.

“Someone once told me they had a job interview they were really nervous for,” Diament said. “The next time I saw them I asked how the job interview went, and they said they got the job. I personally love smaller streamers because you get to interact with them and they get to interact with you more versus you watching someone play a game or do something live.”

While some interactions between streamers and their audiences can be very personal, others can create interesting, entertaining content that can’t be found through other forms of media, such as television or theater. Sophomore Jordan Denzler of Middletown believes that the live content Twitch offers is distinct from other forms of entertainment.

“With Twitch you have the chance to interact with someone in the moment,” Denzler said. “Which creates a lot of unique moments you won’t be able to find elsewhere.”

While this may have boosted Twitch’s audience, evidence suggests that quarantine may have played a huge role in the platform’s popularity. According to The Verge, the website already saw a 10% increase in viewership in the first week of quarantine alone.

Another sign of the platform’s growth through lockdown would be the numerous records broken at the time. User TheGrefg reached the most concurrent viewers in a single broadcast at 2.4 million, streamer GPHustla streamed for the longest time at over 1,000 hours, and Ludwig hosted a month-long stream in which he received almost 270 thousand subscribers, which is more than any previous streamer.

“I think it’s definitely peaked over quarantine,” said Denzler. “There was a really large influx of people, and I think that they will continue to grow, because a lot of their competition has faded.”

Twitch has faced rival platforms such as Facebook Gaming, YouTube, and Microsoft’s Mixer. Some of these competitors took the site’s most popular streamers through contracts, such as Ninja, also known as Tyler Blevins, who defected to Mixer, DisguisedToast, also known as Jeremy Wang, who moved to Facebook Gaming, and several others.

Even with these notable creators, Twitch’s rivals only grew so much. According to a StreamLabs report, YouTube Gaming’s total hours watched grew about 27% from 1.1 billion hours in early 2020. Facebook, on the other hand, nearly doubled in watch time, but still couldn’t even match YouTube’s numbers. Finally, Mixer saw the least growth, at less than one percent—a number that could have led to its shut down in 2020.

While quarantine helped boost the audience of some of these companies, none of them could keep up with Twitch, which saw a 97% increase in watch time. According to the same StreamLabs report, the 6.3 billion hours watched over the year made up 72% of the watch time in the live streaming industry.

“I think [Twitch] definitely peaked over quarantine,” Diament said. “But I think it’s still growing. People started going into quarantine and the numbers just spiked, with accounts being created, people watching, people streaming, so I think with a lot more people it’s definitely grown more.”