While all platforms experienced significant growth during the pandemic, it remained to be seen if they could sustain that momentum. As we begin to see people return to a sense of normalcy, it appears viewership on Twitch has no intention of slowing down. The platform experienced the largest increase in hours streamed since the start of the pandemic. For the second quarter in a row, Twitch has broken its record the most-watched hours in one quarter. Facebook Gaming also experienced a record-setting quarter, and YouTube Gaming streamer, Valkyrae, was the most-watched female streamer of 2021 so far.

Keep reading for more industry trends and data. Thank you to Stream Hatchet, the leading provider in game-streaming analytics, for providing the data that helped formulate these insights.

Key Takeaways

  • Twitch viewership reached an all-time high in Q1 growing 16.5% since the last quarter (5.4 billion hours watched vs. 6.3 billion).
  • Viewership on Twitch has doubled in one year
  • Facebook Gaming closes the gap on YouTube Gaming viewership (1.06 billion hours watched vs. 1.37 billion).
  • Facebook Gaming viewership surpasses 1 billion hours in one quarter for the first time.
  • Year-over-year watch time on YouTube Gaming has nearly doubled (554 million hours watched in Q1 2020, compared to 1.37 billion in Q1 2021)

Platform Comparisons

Hours Watched

  • Twitch represents 72.3% of the market share in terms of viewership, a 6.5% increase from the previous quarter.
  • Facebook Gaming has significantly closed the viewership gap compared to YouTube Gaming.
  • Viewership for YouTube Gaming fell about 550 million hours from Q4 2020 to Q1 2021, while Facebook Gaming viewership grew by about 156 million hours. 
  • Last quarter, YouTube Gaming represented 23.3% of the market share for viewership. In Q1, that number fell to 15.6%.

“For the first time, we are seeing Facebook Gaming and YouTube Gaming closely compete against each other in terms of viewership,” said Ashray Urs, Head of Product at Streamlabs. “While the difference in viewership was approximately 1 billion hours last quarter, that gap has shrunk to about 300 million in Q1. There is a chance we could see Facebook Gaming overtake YouTube Gaming in viewership next quarter. ”

Twitch

Viewership on Twitch reached all-time highs in Q1. The platform experienced the largest increase in hours streamed since the start of the pandemic. And more unique channels were streaming to the platform than ever before. Much of this growth can likely be attributed to Twitch’s “Just chatting” category.

“Just Chatting” now accounts for 12% of all content watched on Twitch in Q1 2021. “Just Chatting” became the number one watched streaming category on Twitch in Q3 2020, amassing a massive 522 million hours watched. That number has only gotten bigger, growing 44% to reach 754 million hours watched in Q1 2021.

For context, the most-watched gaming category on YouTube Gaming in Q1 2021 was Garena Free Fire at 148 million hours watched. And the most-watched category on Facebook Gaming was PUBG Mobile at 254 million hours watched.

Total Hours Watched

  • Viewership reached an all-time high in Q1 growing 16.5% since the last quarter (5.4 billion vs. 6.3 billion).
  • Viewers watched nearly 1 billion more hours of content on Twitch in Q1 compared to Q4. 
  • Compared to this time last year, viewership has doubled (3.1 billion vs. 6.3 billion.

Total Hours Streamed

  • There was a 15% increase in the total number of hours streamed on Twitch in Q1 compared to the previous quarter (230 million vs. 265 million).
  • Streamers broadcast 35 million more hours of content to Twitch in Q1 compared to the previous quarter. 
  • Compared to this time last year, the total hours of content streamed to Twitch increased by 119% (121 million vs. 265 million)

Unique Channels

  • The number of unique channels streaming on Twitch reached an all-time high in Q1, growing 11.6% compared to the previous quarter (11.2 million vs. 12.5 million).
  • Over 1 million more channels streamed to Twitch in Q1 than the previous quarter.
  • Compared to this time last year, Twitch's number of unique channels has doubled (6.1 million vs. 12.5 million). 

Average Concurrent Viewership

  • Average concurrent viewership on Twitch has increased 19.2% in Q1 compared to the previous quarter.
  • Compared to this time last year, average concurrent viewership has doubled from 1.442M in Q1 2020. 

YouTube Gaming

While there was a slight decrease across categories for YouTube Gaming in Q1 year-over-year growth is still very impressive. What’s more, Valkyrae was the top female streamer across all platforms. Last year, YouTube signed a deal with the streamer, so all live content was streamed exclusively to the platform. Viewers watched 12.2 million hours of Valkyrae, followed by Twitch streamer Pokimane with 6.8 million hours watched. For more info on the top female streamers, download the Stream Hatchet report here

Additionally, hours watched on YouTube Gaming have increased by 28% compared to this time last year. (1.076 billion hours watched in Q1 2020, compared to 1.37 billion in Q1 2021)

Total Hours Watched

  • Viewership on YouTube Gaming decreased by 28.6% compared to the previous quarter (1.92 billion vs. 1.37 billion). 
  • However, year-over-year growth is still showing impressive growth, increasing 28% from Q1 20 (1.076 billion vs. 1.373 billion). 

Total Hours Streamed

  • Hours Streamed on the platform decreased 6.7% compared to last quarter (10.4 million vs. 9.7 million).

Unique Channels

  • The number of unique channel streaming to YouTube Gaming has decreased by 9.9% compared to last quarter (737K vs. 665K)

Average Concurrent Viewership

  • Average concurrent viewership on YouTube Gaming has increased 27.7% year-over-year.  

Facebook Gaming

Driven in large part by PUBG Mobile, Facebook Gaming has reached all-time highs across all categories, including viewership, hours streamed, and unique channels. 

PUBG Mobile has been the most-watched gaming category on Facebook Gaming for at least the last two years. Viewers watched 254 million hours of PUBG Mobile content on Facebook Gaming in Q1, a 4.1% increase from Q4 (244 million hours)

Compared to this time last year, there was a 76% increase in hours watched for PUBG Mobile on Facebook Gaming (144 million hours in Q1 2020).

Viewership numbers broke 1 billion hours watched in one quarter for the first time. Streamers broadcast 5 million hours of content to the platform. And an additional 400 thousand unique channels means more people are streaming to Facebook Gaming than ever before.

Total Hours Watched

  • Viewership on Facebook Gaming reached an all-time high, growing 15% since the last quarter (901 million vs. 1.06 billion)
  • Viewership increased by 156 million hours compared to the previous quarter.
  • Viewership topped 1 billion hours for the first time ever.
  • Compared to this time last year, viewership increased by 90.8% (553 million vs. 1.06 billion).

Total Hours Streamed

  • There was a 34.5% increase in the total number of hours streamed on Facebook Gaming in Q1 compared to the previous quarter (14.5 million vs. 19.5 million).
  • Streamers broadcast 5 million more hours of content to Facebook in Q1 compared to the previous quarter.
  • Compared to this time last year, the total hours of content streamed to Twitch increased by 119% (121 million vs. 265 million).

Unique Channels

  • The number of unique channels streaming on Facebook Gaming reached an all-time high in Q1, growing 32.8.% compared to the previous quarter (1.16 million K vs. 1.56 million).
  • Over 380 thousand more channels streamed to Facebook Gaming in Q1 than the previous quarter.

*Disclaimer* The significant increase in unique channels in Q4 is associated with getting access to Facebook Gaming’s API, which improved the discoverability of channels on their platform.

Average Concurrent Viewership

  • Average concurrent viewership on Facebook Gaming has increased 19.9% from the previous quarter.
  • Compared to this time last year, average concurrent viewership has increased 91%, from 256K in Q1 2020

Top Games Watched in Q1 2021

“Just Chatting was the most-watched category across all live streaming platforms for the second quarter in a row. Viewers watched over 71 million more hours of “Just chatting” content in Q1 than Q4 (682 million hours). 

“Just Chatting” became the number one watched streaming category on Twitch in Q3 2020, amassing a massive 522 million hours watched. That number has only gotten bigger, growing 44% to reach 754 million hours watched in Q1 2021. “Just Chatting” now accounts for 12% of all content watched on Twitch in Q1 2021.

For context, the most-watched gaming category on YouTube Gaming in Q1 2021 was Garena Free Fire at 148 million hours watched. And the most-watched category on Facebook Gaming was PUBG Mobile at 254 million hours watched.

Top Publishers Watched in Q1 2021

Riot Games was the most-watched publisher across all platforms for the second quarter in a row. Viewers watched an additional 154 million hours of video game content from Riot Games in Q1 than Q4 (680 million hours).

About Streamlabs

Founded in 2014, Streamlabs is a leading provider of live streaming tools and a brand of Logitech. Streamlabs offers dozens of features that professional live streamers use to broadcast, better engage with their fans, grow audiences, and improve monetization. Streamlabs is a brand of Logitech International. Founded in 1981, and headquartered in Lausanne, Switzerland, Logitech International is a Swiss public company listed on the SIX Swiss Exchange (LOGN) and on the Nasdaq Global Select Market (LOGI). For more information on Streamlabs please visit streamlabs.com or follow Streamlabs on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Discord.

About Stream Hatchet

Stream Hatchet monitors live-streaming gaming viewer data across all platforms around the world and provides precise analysis for leading brands, esports teams, leagues, and sponsors. Stream Hatchet is a business unit within the larger Engine Media, a company focused on accelerating new, live, immersive esports and interactive gaming experiences for consumers through its partnerships with traditional and emerging media companies. The company is traded publicly under the ticker symbol (TSX-V: GAME) (OTCQB: MLLLF).

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