- YouTube/Tyler Blevins
- Amazon owns and operates Twitch, the biggest live video streaming service in the world.
- Starting in August, 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 for 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. As I write this on a Friday morning, hundreds of thousands of people are watching live videos streams on the service.
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 in 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.