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Microsoft’s Mixer studio. (GeekWire Photo / Nat Levy)

Users watched more than twice as many hours on Mixer in 2019 as they did the year before, but despite landing one of the biggest names in video games, Microsoft’s streaming platform wasn’t able to keep pace with Facebook Gaming, and it continues to be dwarfed by Amazon’s Twitch in overall market share.

These are some of the big takeaways from StreamElements’ “State of Stream” retrospective for 2019, which tracks the year’s trends in the international streaming audience. Between the four major players – Twitch, YouTube, Facebook Gaming, and Mixer – stream viewers watched almost 13 billion hours of content in 2019, which is a huge uptick over where the medium was in 2018.

StreamElements, headquartered in Tel Aviv, offers overlays, spam filters, revenue reports, and other  broadcast options for streamers. It regularly produces “State of Stream” reports in conjunction with Arsenal.gg, an analytics firm based in Kansas City, Mo., that specializes in tracking data trends in the “influencer” community.

Both Mixer and Facebook Gaming have steadily grown their piece of the streaming market in 2019. (Source: StreamElements)

We last took a look at StreamElements’ findings in October, in time to see the fallout from Twitch star Ninja’s well-publicized switch to Mixer. At the time, it seemed like Ninja’s new exclusivity deal had only caused a short burst of publicity for Microsoft’s Mixer service. In the intervening months, the industry has seen a flurry of new deals just like it.

Those talent acquisitions have spurred a small but noticeable growth for Mixer and Facebook Gaming’s shares of the streaming audience, which have each grown to 3 percent, from 1 percent market share in 2018. Twitch’s overall share dropped from 75 percent to 73 percent. Distant second-place contender YouTube Gaming fell by 1 percentage point to 21 percent.

But the report also shows an enormous period of growth in engagement for all four networks. Facebook Gaming in particular grew its audience, as measured by number of hours watched, by 21 percent, going up to nearly 360 million hours. Mixer’s growth was a comparatively modest 149 percent, and went from having a slight lead on Facebook Gaming to being slightly behind it. Twitch may have lost a bit of its market share, but its overall number of hours watched still grew by 20 percent.

(Source: StreamElements)

Mixer traces its roots to the Seattle startup Beam, which was acquired by Microsoft in 2016. Both of Mixer’s founders, James Boehm and Matt Salsamendi, left Microsoft this year.

Turning to specific video games, the report shows that Fortnite, for all its explosive growth over the last year, appears to be slowing down. In the wake of a 28 percent decrease in Fortnite’s hours watched on Twitch, Riot’s League of Legends has reclaimed the top spot as the most popular game among streaming audiences.

This arguably owes a lot to the debut of League’s new mode, Teamfight Tactics, which is Riot’s take on one of the trendier new subgenres of 2019, the “auto battler.” Beginning as a custom community-made mode for Valve’s Defense of the Ancients 2, other popular games have come out with their own takes on auto battlers, including Valve’s DOTA Underlords.

Other big games that rose in popularity for streaming this year included Grand Theft Auto V and World of Warcraft, the latter owing largely to the unexpected popularity of its new official “Classic” servers.

Electronic Arts’ free-to-play battle royale, Apex Legends, came in at No. 8 overall for the year in streaming popularity, and was by far the most-watched new game in 2019. (If you count Teamfight Tactics as its own thing and not as a League of Legends spin-off, it’s No. 2.) Beyond that, it’s a steep dive to the third-place winner, From Software’s notoriously difficult samurai epic Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice.

Other interesting takeaways from the report:

  • The #1 most-watched streamer overall in 2019 was Turner “Tfue” Tenney. While Tenney certainly has an audience, he benefited from both Ninja and Michael “Shroud” Grzesiek signing exclusivity deals with Mixer. Shroud in particular is estimated to have lost roughly 85% of his audience in the move away from Twitch.
  • Dungeons & Dragons’s streaming viewership peaked at around 13 million in 2019. The game is experiencing a resurgence of interest at the moment, and the streaming market is one big reason why, alongside popular televised play sessions like “Critical Role.”
  • Of the top 10 female streamers on Twitch in 2019, four of them – including the #1 most-watched female streamer on the service, League of Legends player “saddummy” – are South Korean.
  • The most-watched non-English broadcaster on Twitch in 2019 was gaules, a professional Counter-Strike player from Brazil.
  • The “Just Chatting” category on Twitch continues its steady growth, with a 44% rise in its audience over 2018. The category can encompass anything from everyday activities to audience Q&A, and has steadily been a surprise hit overall with Twitch viewers; it ranks #3 overall for hours watched on the service.
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