In a surprise announcement this afternoon, one of the biggest stars on streaming platform Twitch announced that he was jumping ship. Instead, Ninja (real name: Tyler Blevins) is going to stream exclusively on Mixer, a competing livestream service owned by Microsoft.
In a scripted ad announcing the change, Ninja said, “I feel like this a chance to get back in touch with my roots and why I fell in love with streaming in the first place.” That means nothing, but okay. More likely, Microsoft cut him a big check. Ninja’s a big name and on Mixer, a platform substantially smaller than Twitch in terms of size, a tentpole star might be just what it needs to kickstart growth.
On Twitch, Ninja had more than 14 million subscribers. On Mixer, he currently has 51,000. Granted, he did just announce the switch, but the difference between those two numbers really illustrates that he’s starting almost from square one. Presumably, he’s also losing out on a lot of people who might watch ads on Twitch, and one could easily assume that Microsoft is making up the difference. It’s promoting the move heavily, including in an ad on the home screen of the Xbox One interface.
Mixer has a reputation as a friendlier streaming service, which is probably mostly because it is much smaller than Twitch. According to analytics from Stream Hatchet, Twitch makes up 72 percent of the total hours viewers spend watching livestreaming — Mixer makes up just three. The site also leans on interactive features to differentiate itself, offering viewers ways to manipulate the streaming interface or the game that’s being played.
“We’ve loved watching Ninja on Twitch over the years and are proud of all that he’s accomplished for himself and his family, and the gaming community,” Twitch said in a statement. “We wish him the best of luck in his future endeavors.” Shortly after Ninja’s announcement, the verified checkmark on Ninja’s channel was removed.
Though Ninja is one of the biggest names associated with Fortnite, he failed to qualify for the game’s World Cup. The tournament, which took place this past weekend, had a $30 million prize pool, though I guess Ninja found a way to compensate for missing out. Whether or not Mixer also gets something out of this arrangement is something only time will tell.