So you want to be the next big streamer. You saw Ninja make millions by playing video games on Twitch and want to do the same. Totally understandable.
How feasible is it to actually turn your gaming hobby into a streaming career? Though I am far from a Twitch expert – particularly when it comes to growth – there are tidbits of knowledge I’ve picked up from my personal experience, from streaming gurus, and from publicly available data on sights like Twitch Tracker and Sully Gnome.
In this post, let’s focus on the hard data. When I think about the realities of growing my channel on Twitch, these particular factoids go a long way to put things into perspective for me. Hope they do the same for you on your journey!
By The Numbers
The vast majority of active streamers broadcast to an average of 0-5 viewers
Each month, millions of streamers broadcast on Twitch. For the vast majority, their audience is incredibly small or non-existent. Even for streamers who have achieved Affiliate or Partner status, streaming to a viewer count at or below 5 is the reality. If you’re streaming to an empty room or to an audience that is smaller than the thousands of adoring fans you were hoping for, welcome to the club.
The top 1% of Twitch have an average concurrent viewership of roughly 20 viewers
I have blurred this streamer’s identity out, but you can verify yourself by searching for streamers on Twitch Tracker. If you average about 20 viewers per stream, you’re roughly in the top 1% of all streamers on Twitch. In reality, being in the top 1% of any field is amazing. Being top 1% on Twitch is amazing too!
That said, 20 viewers may not be what you’d hope to reach. If you want to reach Partner-level (averaging about 75 concurrent viewers), you’re aiming to be somewhere higher than the top 0.5% of Twitch. If you’re aiming to hit an average viewership near 1,000, you’re in rarefied air with 0.03% of the Twitch population.
As of the time of this screenshot, my stream that was averaging 8 concurrent viewers per stream was in the top 2.31% of all streamers on Twitch. Where I rank will fluctuate, but I generally land between the top 1.5% and 2.5% of all streamers on Twitch. Averaging 8 viewers per stream may not seem like much, but I also have to put that into perspective. On average, my stream is performing better than 97.5% of all streams on Twitch. By that same token, I’m nowhere near close to making this a career.
Numbers really put into perspective how hard it is to climb the mountain and how much higher the plateau is for those at the very top.
The top 0.1% of all streamers get 74% of all watch time
Speaking of those top streamers, the Twitch ecosystem is one that’s built heavily in their favour. Streams are listed by category based on concurrent views, meaning that those at the top are much more likely to stay at the top because it’s physically easier for viewers to access the top streams.
The above stat illustrates this. Twitch’s top 5,000 streamers pull in 74% of all watch time. The other 5+ million streamers are fighting for the much smaller 26% of the pie. Yet another way that the odds are stacked against up-and-coming streamers.
Even in a world where every stream was equally accessible, viewers wouldn’t split evenly. Viewers are going to gravitate to the streamers they think are the best, which will always create an imbalance. Though it’s exceedingly difficult to break into that 0.1%, new streamers reach that plateau every day.
On average, there are 10,000+ streamers broadcasting Fortnite at any given time
To amplify the point about viewers finding you, take a look at the Fortnite category. When you’re looking for streamers, you’re seeing six-to-nine different streams at a time based on how the listing pages are laid out and based on what device you’re using. Would you scroll all the way to the bottom of a results page that has 10,000+ results to find that diamond in the rough Fortnite streamer? Probably not.
Even when you flip the sorting, you’re still lost in a sea of thousands of 0-viewer Fortnite streamers. It’s physically impossible to browse Twitch and find that one streamer in a saturated category.
Conversely, you can’t just pick a game that no one is streaming and expect a fast track to success. Odds are, if no one’s streaming it, that’s because no one wants to watch it. When this subject comes up on my stream, I oftentimes use Picross S as an example. Great game from what I’ve heard, but the demand for Picross streams simply isn’t there.
Making even an average income is exceedingly rare
Pictured above is a streamer who is in the top 0.009% of all streamers in terms of total subs in the last month based on publicly-available data. After Amazon takes its 50% cut from all of this streamer’s 747 subs, they get $2,190. Multiply that over the course of a year, and this streamer makes an average of $26,280 a year on Twitch subs alone. Fantastic!
Everyone’s financial needs are different, and this doesn’t include Bits or subs, but $26,280 is still thousands short of the average US income, which is $33,706. There are no shortage of entry-level jobs that can earn you more money that don’t require you to be in the top 0.0009% of your field. Are you ready to put in the work to be a best-in-class streamer and quite possibly still make a sub-standard wage?
What should you do with this data?
Depends on what your goals are. If you simply want to play video games and have that option open for others to watch, do whatever you want. Some may see these stats and give up on their dream. I’d rather you stick with it, but that’s your choice to make.
But if you have any sort of goals for your channel, whether you’re aiming for the stars or simply want the viewer counter to be consistently higher than 0, I hope this data helps illustrate the challenge that is ahead of you. Once you’ve got a hold of the challenges ahead, you’ll be in a much better position to overcome them. Streamers reach new plateaus everyday by understanding the challenge and taking the right steps to overcome them. You can reach new heights by doing the same.
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