Esports Gaining Celebrity Status, Stream Hatchet Report Finds

Stream Hatchet has released a report looking back at gaming in 2020, and among the takeaways is newfound domination by Riot Games, spiking viewership figures and how celebrities like athletes and politicans are now embracing the space.

The data intelligence firm, which works with publishers like Riot Games and agencies like UTA on tracking streaming, said that while there wasn’t extraordinary growth last year before the pandemic started, that changed quickly in mid March and the gains were maintained even after traditional sports returned in mid summer. 

 Streaming of live video games in 2020 was up 81% from ’19, with Riot Games’ League of Legends supplanting Fortnite as the most popular game.

 While Twitch remains the largest player among the western streaming platforms, and doubled its hours watched in Q4 2020 from the same period in 2019, Stream Hatchet says that YouTube Gaming and even Facebook Gaming also saw notable growth last year. The one platform that did not was Microsoft’s Mixer. 

 YouTube went from 1 billion hours watched in Q4 2019 to 1.9 billion in the same period last year, helped in part by signing new partnerships with high-profile streamers like Valkyrae and with Activision Blizzard Esports for Call of Duty League and Overwatch League. 

While Facebook Gaming is not seen as pedigreed as Twitch or YouTube, Stream Hatchet says it doubled its hours watched in Q4 last year, boosted by mobile gaming audiences such as PUBG Mobile and Garena Free Fire.

 Other highlights included how women are a growing segment of viewership, currently around 30%, according to YouGov data, and that gaming streams sponsored by corporate brands amassed 355 million hours watched last year.

 Congresswomen Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez also got a shoutout for earning a peak viewership of 438,000 people during her stream last year when she played the popular Among Us game.

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