Streamlabs and Stream Hatchet Q2 Live Streaming Industry Report

The live streaming industry grew dramatically last year as people sought ways to stay connected during the Coronavirus lockdown.

Celebrities, famous athletes, musicians, and artists have all used live streaming platforms like Facebook Gaming, Twitch, and YouTube Gaming to connect with their communities at a time when real human interaction was extremely limited.

As a result, streaming platforms have continued to set new records each quarter. In fact, for the third quarter in a row, Twitch just broke its record for the number of hours streamed. However, as lockdown restrictions begin to loosen, the question we are asking ourselves is what effect will this have on the streaming industry?

This report will examine the most recent industry data and trends from the major streaming platforms to help answer that question. Thank you to Stream Hatchet, the industry leader in game-streaming analytics, for providing the data that aided in developing these insights.

Please note: Unlike Twitch and Facebook Gaming, which include Just Chatting and other IRL categories, YouTube Gaming focuses solely on gaming content.

Key Takeaways

  • The total number of hours watched across all streaming platforms increased by 2.5 percent, from 8.77 billion hours in Q1 to 8.99 billion hours in Q2
  • Viewers spent 3 billion hours per month watching live streaming content, up 16% from 2.544 billion hours this time last year in Q2 2020
  • Twitch breaks viewership records for the third quarter in a row
  • Facebook Gaming triples the number of hours streamed in a year
  • Viewership growth rates for Twitch and Facebook Gaming slowing down compared to previous quarters.
  • YouTube Gaming viewership return to pre-covid levels
  • Grand Theft Auto 5 is the most-watched game across all live streaming platforms

Twitch

Following Twitch’s meteoric rise in viewership this time last year, it’s encouraging to see the platform retain those viewers and break new viewership records in Q2. However, the rate of growth is beginning to slow.

While the slowing growth is most likely due to people resuming their normal lives, working in offices, and going out more frequently, the fact that Twitch is still breaking records is a good sign that they are retaining new viewers who began watching Twitch during the pandemic.

Total Hours Watched

  • Twitch viewership has reached an all-time high for the third quarter in a row, with 6.51 billion hours watched in the second quarter, up from 6.337 billion hours in the previous quarter.
  • Twitch viewership has increased by 27% year on year, from 5.118 billion hours watched in Q2 2020 to 6.337 billion hours in Q2 2021.

Total Hours Streamed

  • The total number of hours streamed on Twitch decreased by 8.2 percent in the second quarter to 243 million, compared to the previous quarter’s 264.9 million.
  • The total hours of content streamed to Twitch increased by 19% compared to this time last year (203.9 million vs. 243 million)

Unique Channels

  • The number of unique channels streaming to Twitch decreased by 8.8% in Q2, falling from 12.5 million in Q1 to 11.4 million in Q2.
  • The number of unique channels increased by 10.7 percent year on year, from 10.3 million to 11.4 million.

Average Concurrent Viewership

  • Twitch’s average concurrent viewership increased 3% in Q2 compared to the previous quarter, rising from 2.9 million in Q1 to 3 million in Q2.
  • When compared to this time last year, average concurrent viewership has increased by 30%, from 2.3 million to 3 million.

YouTube Gaming

Viewership on YouTube Gaming appears to be returning to levels seen just before and during the first quarter of lockdowns. While there was a slight decrease in viewership hours this quarter, the rate of that decrease was much lower than the previous decrease. This indicates that viewership on the platform is showing signs of stabilizing as people resume their everyday lives following the pandemic.

Total Hours Watched

  • Viewership on YouTube Gaming decreased by 4% in Q2 to 1.203 million hours watched, down from 1.373 million hours watched in Q1. 
  • These viewership figures are consistent with the average number of hours watched on YouTube Gaming pre-pandemic in Q1 and Q2 2020
  • Viewership is down 14.8% year on year, from 1.519 million in Q2 2020 to 1.203 million in Q2 2021

Total Hours Streamed

  • The number of hours streamed on YouTube Gaming decreased 7.9 percent from 9.68 million in Q1 to 8.92 million in Q2.

Unique Channels

  • The number of unique channels streaming to YouTube Gaming has decreased by 10.2% from 665 thousand streamers in Q1 to 597 thousand streamers in Q2.

Average Concurrent Viewership

  • Average concurrent viewership on YouTube Gaming has decreased 5.5% quarter over quarter.
  • This rate of decrease, like the total hours watched, is significantly lower than the previous quarter, indicating a post-pandemic stabilization.

Facebook Gaming

Facebook Gaming maintained its momentum after surpassing 1 billion hours watched for the first time in Q1. This quarter, it increased viewership by an additional 127 million hours, breaking its record for the third quarter in a row.

*Disclaimer* In Q4 2020, Facebook Gaming granted access to their API, which improved the discoverability of channels on their platform.

Total Hours Watched

  • Viewership on Facebook Gaming reached an all-time high for the third quarter in a row with 1.184 billion hours watched in Q2, a 12% increase over the previous quarter.
  • Viewership increased by 42.7% compared to this time last year.

Total Hours Streamed

  • The number of hours streamed on Facebook Gaming increased by 6.6% from the previous quarter, from 19.5 million to 20.8 million.
  • Facebook Gaming has more than tripled the number of hours streamed to its platform year over year, from 6.5 million hours in Q2 2020 to 20.8 million hours in Q2 2021.

Unique Channels

  • After reaching a record 1.5 million unique channels streaming to Facebook Gaming last quarter, that number has since decreased 45% to 840 thousand.

Average Concurrent Viewership

  • Average concurrent viewership on Facebook Gaming continues to rise, increasing 10.6% from the previous quarter to 542 thousand average concurrent viewers.
  • Compared to this time last year, average concurrent viewership has increased 42.6%, from 380K in Q2 2020

Top Game Categories Watched in Q2 2021

Grand Theft Auto was the most-watched category across all platforms, surpassing Just Chatting, which had held the top spot since the fourth quarter of 2020.

In Q2, Grand Theft Auto reached 866 million watch hours, 330 million more than Q1, which had 530 million hours.

Just Chatting had an impressive 822 million hours watched in Q2. This was a 68 million hour increase from Q1’s 754 million hours watched.

Check out our report to learn more about the top streamers among these categories: Top Live Streaming Content Creators in Q2 2021

Top Esports Watched in Q2 2021

Top Publishers Watched in Q2 2021

In summary

Viewers are consuming more live streaming content than ever before. While growth rates are beginning to slow in comparison to the peak of quarantine, it’s encouraging to see viewers returning to these platforms to watch content. On the other hand, it appears that the number of unique channels across all platforms is decreasing. As more people continue to resume their everyday lives, it remains to be seen whether this trend will continue in the coming quarter. Be sure to follow us here to stay up to date on the next live streaming quarterly report.

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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