Live-streaming, esports, and gaming news highlights for the week of May 18, 2020

Non-gaming content continues to post massive viewership gains

TL;DR - Categories like Just Chatting on Twitch grew in April by nearly 140%, year over year. This puts the category solidly in the number two spot overall for the month, with 1.65B hours consumed. That’s three times the total viewership of the entirety of YouTube Gaming. Much of this growth is being driven by the COVID-19 pandemic, with more people at home and more entertainers unable to perform in physical venues. The Music directory alone has grown from 3.6M hours watched in 2019 to 17M this year - and we’re not even halfway through. With this insane growth it’s likely Twitch is pushing hard to attract more brands and sponsors to the platform, and it stands to reshape the face of entertainment entirely.

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Rapper Drake signs exclusive streaming deal with Caffeine

TL;DR - Drake and Caffeine have struck an exclusive deal that will bring the rapper, his fans, and a new programming lineup to the live-streaming platform. As part of the deal, Drake will work with the creators of the Ultimate Rap League (URL) to bring the show in a live format to Caffeine. Previously, Rap League was available only through a proprietary paid app. The details of the arrangement are sparse, but we know it’s a multi-year deal and we know Drake will have his own dedicated channel, however it’s unclear how much Drake himself will be streaming.

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New Pac-Man title to be first in-platform Twitch exclusive

TL;DR - Amazon and Bandai Namco will unveil Pac-Man Live Studio in June directly via Twitch. To play the game, users will have to hit up the game’s directory on Twitch where they can play directly via their browsers. The game will include all of the original Pac-Man action traditionalists would want, but in typical reboot fashion it will also include new game modes, some even designed for the sorts of multiplayer interaction you’d expect on a platform like Twitch. Taking a cue from Nintendo, Pac-Man Live Studio will also include a studio mode where users can create their own Pac-Man maps. With rumors circulating that Amazon is working on its own cloud-gaming service, Pac-Man Live Studio could also be a test in disguise for whatever form that new service may take.

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Overwatch League tokens return but not via YouTube

TL;DR - Overwatch fans have reason to celebrate this week as Blizzard announced the return of the highly desired OWL tokens. When making the move from Twitch to YouTube, the Overwatch League lost the Drops feature on Twitch and no longer had a way to reward viewers for watching matches. OWL tokens are used by Overwatch players to purchase in-game skins, including those of the OWL teams themselves. There was no time horizon from YouTube on when similar functionality would be introduced, so Blizzard needed to find a solution. The “fix” comes with a catch, however. Viewers must watch the matches through a dedicated Overwatch platform, like the OWL website or mobile app, and not directly on YouTube.

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Viewership for Facebook Gaming surges in April as Mixer continues to languish

TL;DR - Year-over-year viewership on Facebook’s streaming platform surged 238% in April thanks largely to Coronavirus stay-at-home orders. The next closest in terms of viewership growth was Twitch at 101%, followed by YouTube at 65%. Twitch still sits firmly at the top when it comes to actual hours watched, with 1.65B compared to Facebook Gaming’s 291M. And as every other platform is posting huge numbers, Mixer sits at the bottom with an unfortunate 0.2% increase in viewership. For the entirety of Q1, Facebook Gaming clocked 554M hours of viewership versus 1.1B on YouTube and 3.1B on Twitch. Much of this growth across the board can be attributed to non-gaming content, like Music, Just Chatting, and general IRL streams.

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