Today, StreamElements and its partner, analytics company Rainmaker.gg, have put out the February issue of their “State of the Stream” report. It’s something of a fascinating document because, as the end of the pandemic draws near, it’s another piece of evidence that live-streaming platforms were one of the winners of the crisis. (You know, assuming there can be winners to a global mass death event.)
The biggest finding in this month’s report is that, in terms of hours watched, both Twitch and Facebook Gaming are up around 80 percent year over year. To be slightly more specific: Twitch has grown by 82 percent, while Facebook Gaming grew by 79 percent. For Twitch, that translates to more than 1.8 billion hours of watch time in February; Facebook Gaming, on the other hand, cleared 400 million hours. (For reference: in March 2020, as the pandemic was beginning, Twitch cleared 1.1 billion watch hours. And last April, Facebook Gaming had crossed 291 million hours watched.)
Those numbers are both massive and, I think, durable: both figures are actually a decrease from January, which was a longer month. To me, that suggests that the total number of people who watch live streams has materially increased over the course of the global coronavirus pandemic.
That said: those numbers don’t reflect the ongoing vaccine rollout — which, in the US, has only recently started ramping up exponentially. I’ll be interested to see if the numbers go down as the world returns to some semblance of normalcy. Even if they do, this hellish season of our lives has pulled live-streaming as a practice firmly into the mainstream.