How the Holiday Season Toys With Twitch Viewership
December is known for being the time when friends and family get together. It’s a time when business—and esports—typically take a break, and people focus on the holiday season filled with family gatherings.
For the gaming world, this means that professional competition goes on a bit of a hiatus. Outside of Don’t Park on the Grass (Super Smash Bros.) and Epic Games’ Winter Royale for Fortnite, Twitch was largely a barren wasteland in terms of esports action through December.
Thus, the focus on Twitch went from esports to influencers in the last few weeks of December. The top 10 chart for most-watched channels became flooded with personality streamers. The top forms of content skewed more toward influencer-friendly titles and were lathered weekly with a new title being released just in time for the gift-giving season.
The entire top 10 most-watched channels for December were personality streamers, with four of them being primarily Fortnite players. As one might expect, the influencer-driven battle royale game dominated the month with 85.5M hours watched, close to 27M more than League of Legends at second place.
Fortnite’s exaggerated lead as the most-watched form of content on Twitch was driven largely by its status as the top game on the platform for personality streamers. The game’s longer matches include lulls in action that allow streamers to more directly interact with their stream while still playing the game, and its cartoonish style that has made it popular among youth certainly didn’t hurt the game while kids were on winter break from school.
That, along with a relative absence of esports, led to the game experiencing a noticeable increase in hours of airtime for the month, the likes of which most games didn’t experience.
While the “Just Chatting” category saw a bump in airtime from November to December, up to 162K from 134K, League of Legends broadcast time stayed stagnant at just a shade under 140K. Fortnite, on the other hand, saw a 39K increase in month-over-month airtime to 225K, up from 186K in November.
Those increases by Just Chatting and Fortnite were paired with an increase in hours watched as well. Fortnite’s 85.5M hours watched was up 4.5M from November, and Just Chatting improved to 56.4M hours watched, up from 48M in November.
League of Legends saw a sharp decline to 58.7M hours watched, down from 71.5M in November, but that came in part from a lack of esports. December was a dry month for LoL esports, but the World Championships for the title were held in early November. Riot Games’ primary broadcast for the grande finals on Twitch alone drew 2.02M hours watched.
Taking Some Personal Time Off
While Fortnite, Just Chatting, and other top influencer-driven forms of content saw increases in their viewership and airtime during December, the days surrounding Christmas led to a blimp on the radar.
As many people celebrated Christmas, so did a lot of Twitch’s entertainers. The hours watched totals for top forms of content on Twitch were down significantly on Christmas Eve and Christmas with airtime at a low point for the month.
Despite the decline in both viewership and airtime, during the days following Christmas, Fortnite in particular experienced a rise in viewership that correlated with a rise in airtime. It’s difficult to detach lower viewership and lower airtime to determine which causes the other. It’s a bit of a chicken-and-egg situation.
But the immediacy with which both airtime and viewership rose following Christmas, shows how quickly and seamlessly Twitch can pick back up following an atypical break in broadcasting. As soon as more streamers started streaming more again, the hours watched on titles—like Fortnite in particular—jumped right back up.
Fortnite and LoL experienced a similar dip on New Year’s Eve as well. With many people taking a break for the holiday, airtime was down. Tyler “Ninja” Blevins’ New Years Eve special stream in Times Square carried Fortnite viewership for the day, keeping it from experiencing a dip, but the same was not the case for LoL.
With few to no esports generating a boost in viewership for major titles like Dota 2 and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, December was the month of the influencer. But that blessing for personalities also comes with a degree of short-term volatility.
The holiday season presents an opportunity for streamers to attract viewers by streaming a variety of newly released titles without competition from big-time esports. However, that esports-free environment leads to its own ebb and flow through the final weeks of the year.
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