Pro gamer Tyler “Ninja” Blevins has "left Twitch and is taking his video game live streams to Microsoft’s Mixer platform, a stunning switch that could have wide-ranging consequences" for the esports industry, according to Jake Seiner of the AP. The move ends a "hugely profitable partnership with Twitch." Blevins has "earned millions broadcasting himself playing Fortnite and other video games on Twitch and YouTube," and he has "over 14 million followers on Twitch." Blevins will "host his first Mixer live stream Friday from Lollapalooza" in Chicago. He has "publicly invited" Kyle "Bugha" Giersdorf, who won the inaugural Fortnite World Cup last weekend, to "join him" on Mixer. Blevins said that he "will not actively recruit other gamers to leave their current platform." However, Seiner noted if more streamers "follow him to Mixer, it could become a legitimate competitor in a market dominated by Twitch." Mixer launched in '16 but "hasn’t nearly matched Twitch’s popularity" -- Microsoft "reported 10 million monthly users last year, compared to well over 100 million for Twitch," which launched in '11 (AP, 8/1). In DC, Tramel Raggs noted Blevins was the "top trending topic on Twitter in the United States within an hour of his announcement," while his Mixer account "already surpassed 100,000 followers" within four hours of Thursday's announcement (WASHINGTON POST, 8/1).
NOT ABOUT MONEY: In N.Y., Mariel Padilla notes Niles Heron, an exec at Blevins’ management company Loaded, declined to comment on how much Blevins "was being paid as part of the deal, but said that 'the decision was overwhelmingly not driven by the monetary value.'" Heron added that the opportunity to "attract new viewers was a consideration" in Blevins' move. Heron also said that Mixer, with its direct connection to Xbox -- both are owned by Microsoft -- has a "generally more youthful audience because younger gamers are more likely to play on consoles than personal computers" (N.Y. TIMES, 8/2).
MIXING IT UP: A quick look at Google Trends shows how much interest in Mixer soared in the U.S. after Ninja’s announcement. In the last five years, Mixer has never had more Google search interest than Twitch in the U.S., and at 4:00am ET on Thursday, that was still the case. Twitch had an interest of 100, while Mixer was stuck at 9. On Google Trends, a value of 100 equals peak popularity for the term; a value of 50 means that the term is half as popular. Blevins made his announcement at 12:48pm on Twitter; by 1:00pm, Mixer was at 86 on Google Trends, while Twitch trailed at 53. Globally, Twitch’s Google search interest stayed right with Mixer in many major esports locales, likely because Fortnite -- Blevins's primary game of choice -- is not as popular in other parts of the world (Bret McCormick, THE DAILY).
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