- YouTube/Tyler Blevins
- Amazon owns and operates Twitch, the biggest live video streaming service in the world.
- Starting in August 2019, Twitch’s most popular streamers started making deals with Amazon’s competition – most notably, Microsoft-owned Mixer.
- Since Tyler “Ninja” Blevins left Twitch, a steady stream of other high-profile names have left the service or signed exclusivity deals with its competitors.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Amazon’s Twitch is the most popular live video streaming service by a large margin.
Like Google-owned YouTube dominates internet video-on-demand, such is Twitch’s dominance of live-streamed internet video. Hundreds of thousands of people are watching live videos streams on the service at any moment.
But Twitch is bleeding: a major talent exodus has more people than ever using competing services from Microsoft and Google.
It all started with Tyler “Ninja” Blevins last August.
1. Tyler “Ninja” Blevins
- YouTube/Tyler Blevins
In a fake press conference in early August, Tyler “Ninja” Blevins announced his intention to switch from Amazon-owned Twitch to Microsoft-owned Mixer.
“I know this may come as a shock to many of you,” he said, “but, as of today, I will be streaming exclusively on Mixer.”
The announcement itself was lighthearted and silly, but the news was anything but – the world’s most popular, well-known video game streamer was switching from Amazon to Microsoft. We’re talking about a guy who makes hundreds of thousands of dollars each month streaming himself playing “Fortnite” to tens of thousands of viewers, a guy who was reportedly paid $1 million for a single day of playing EA’s “Apex Legends.”
On paper, the deal looks straightforward: Microsoft is paying the most popular video game streamer to exclusively stream on its platform, Mixer.
In reality, Microsoft is locking in an important influencer who can both increase the value of Mixer and bring eyes to Microsoft’s entire gaming platform – a platform that’s expanding greatly in the next year with a new Xbox console (“Project Scarlett”) and a major new game streaming platform.
2. Michael “Shroud” Grzesiek
- Robert Reiners / Stringer/ Getty Images
After Ninja, it was only a matter of time before another high-profile streamer announced a deal – and Michael “Shroud” Grzesiek was an unsurprising choice.
He’s a former professional “Counter-Strike: Global Offensive” (CS:GO) player, and his experience with professional gaming transitioned into a lucrative career professionally streaming. He’s notorious for having an absurdly good aim in shooters, and for explaining competitive gameplay tactics to his viewers.
Though Shroud isn’t quite as well-known as Ninja, he built a large, loyal fanbase on Twitch before moving to Mixer in late October. The terms of the deal were not disclosed, but he now streams exclusively on Mixer.
3. Cory “King Gothalion” Michael
Not long after Shroud, on October 27, Cory “King Gothalion” Michael announced his own exclusivity deal with Microsoft’s Mixer.
In a video posted to Twitter, Michael said, “It’s my belief that working with Xbox and Microsoft is not only gonna help us propel what we’re doing, but also propel what’s always been important to the channel, which is doing good in gaming.”
He specifically cited, “the potential of having platform-level input,” which is a notable difference from the arrangement streamers have with Twitch.
When Ninja left the platform back in September, his manager and wife, Jessica Blevins, told Business Insider they felt as if Twitch “did not listen” to them.
“Everything we were asking, it never came back reflecting our wishes – and that’s completely outside of finances,” she said. “And for us, two people who were streaming on Twitch, it was really upsetting for us to go months and months and keep reiterating that we love you guys, we’ve been here for a long time, but the things that are in the contract right now just don’t make sense.”
4. Jack “CouRage” Dunlop
- Matt Shouse/YouTube
Microsoft isn’t the only one with a major stake in the online live video market – Google’s YouTube just cut a deal with Jack “CouRage” Dunlop, a former esports commentator-turned-influencer with millions of followers.
Though Dunlop was already producing recorded videos on his YouTube channel, he’s moving his live video presence from Twitch to YouTube.
It’s the first such deal for a streamer, and the first sign that other major streaming platforms are taking notice of Microsoft’s increasingly competitive approach. Look no further than this statement from Ryan Wyatt, YouTube’s head of gaming, for proof: “We are continuing to invest in our live business in gaming in many ways, and bringing Jack over is just another way of bolstering our presence in this space.”
Amazon’s Twitch is far from the only service offering live video, of course: YouTube has live video, as do Facebook and Microsoft’s Mixer. None of those services has been able to overtake Twitch’s dominance thus far, but it’s clear that major moves are happening.
5. Jeremy “Disguised Toast” Wang
- Facebook Gaming
In November, Facebook Gaming, the social media giant’s streaming platform, recruited its first major talent, Jeremy “Disguised Toast” Wang.
Disguised Toast is one of the world’s leading strategy-game personalities with millions of followers worldwide. He began streaming exclusively on Facebook gaming on November 22.
Disguised Toast is fluent in both English and Mandarin and is best known for playing games like “Hearthstone,” “League of Legends,” and the “League of Legends” spin-off “Teamfight Tactics.”
“One of my favorite things about streaming is that I get to engage with viewers from across the world,” he said when announcing his move to Facebook. “Throughout my career, I’ve made it a priority to learn about different cultures and experiences. My move to Facebook Gaming will give me a larger platform to share my voice with a global audience and hear their perspectives on the gaming landscape.”
6. Elliott “Muselk” Watkins
In a trio announcement, YouTube declared that three of its already successful creators were going to keep their livestreaming exclusive to YouTube.
“The platform will be the exclusive live streaming home for three well-renowned gaming creators,” YouTube’s announcement said.
The first of those creators is Elliott “Muselk” Watkins, who has over 8 million subscribers already. “Livestreaming is an incredible opportunity to both grow my channel as well as have even more meaningful interactions with my audience,” Watkins said in the announcement.
It’s unclear what he will livestream on YouTube, but his focus lately has been on “Fortnite.”
7. Rachell “Valkyrae” Hofstetter
Rachell “Valkyrae” Hofstetter is the second of YouTube’s creators who will stream exclusively to YouTube.
Hofstetter is known for gaming, and is involved in the world of esports – she was part of the 2019 Fortnite PRO AM tournament, and was the first woman to join the esports group 100 Thieves.
When she’s not playing games, Hofstetter is known for vlogging and charity streams. She appears in videos with other popular YouTubers, including Jack “CouRage” Dunlop (who also went exclusive to YouTube back in late 2019).
“With the support from YouTube, my family and my fans,” she said, “I will not only continue to do my best as a streamer, but I will also venture into other areas of content and grow my brand even further!”
8. Lannan “LazarBeam” Eacott
Hailing from Australia, Lannan “LazarBeam” Eacott boasts a gigantic YouTube subscriber base – over 12 million as of this writing – due primarily to his gaming-focused videos.
He primarily focuses on two of the world’s biggest games, “Minecraft” and “Fortnite,” but what stands out about Eacott is his video-editing style.
Like Felix “PewDiePie” Kjellberg, Eacott uses zoom in and spliced graphics to highlight his reactions, with a camera focused directly on his face as he sits in front of a computer screen.
When he’s not producing gaming videos, Eacott produces videos on – what else? – memes.