Twitch’s biggest streamer Richard Tyler Blevins, aka Ninja, just surpassed one million subscribers on rival streaming game platform Mixer. He is testing the power of a top creator to bring an audience with him when moving social platform.
The Rise of Ninja
Mr. Blevins started out playing Halo 3 professionally from his room and later started streaming his gameplay on Twitch. He began playing Fortnite, adding the game to his Twitch streaming channel. Following the rise of Fortnite, Ninja’s streaming channel experienced explosive growth.
While at Twitch, Ninja amassed a following of over 14.5 million subscribers. As of July 7, 2019, his channel had more than double the subscribers of the next biggest streamer on the platform. Ninja also had sponsorship deals in place with Redbull sports and Astralwerks. Such was his fame that he even appeared in a Super Bowl commercial. Mr. Blevins was earning millions of dollars outside of Twitch, and it is no surprise that the Amazon-owned streaming platform failed to hold onto him.
Ninja moves to Mixer
On August 1, 2019, Ninja announced via Twitter that he was cutting all ties with Twitch and moving to Mixer. The Microsoft-owned video game streaming service Mixer launched in 2016. Ninja reiterated that his streams would be “exactly the same” and that he had been “holding onto this for quite some time.”
Mixer has struggled to catch up to competitors like YouTube and Twitch. Prying a celebrity gamer like Ninja away from Twitch is the platforms biggest win to date. The coupe seems to be working. Twenty-four hours after Ninja arrived on Mixer, the app popped to the top of Apple’s Free App Store list.
Before the arrival of Ninja, Mixer represented just 3% of all game streaming traffic while Twitch was driving 72%. If he continues to attract subscribers at the current rate, he will likely break many of his previous subscriber count records. For example, he is on track to best his record of 3 million subs in one month on his YouTube account.
Will Ninja fans stay on Mixer?
While some at Mixer may be celebrating the new users, it is not clear how long they will be there.
When Ninja announced his move to Mixer, the company made a special offer for his fans. For the first two months, fans of Ninja would be able to subscribe to his stream for free. However, after the two months are up, they must start to pay a subscription of at least $5.99 a month.
Most Ninja fans are accustomed to watching him for free on Twitch. Asking them to pay $6 a month to continue to watch is a huge deal. How many will opt to do so after the 2-month free trial period expires is anyone’s guess?
If Twitch is anything to go by, Mr. Blevins’ retention prospects are not good. Most channel subscriptions on Twitch come via the required Amazon Prime membership, which includes one channel subscription for free. Very few Twitch users pay extra to watch more than one streamer. The Twitch experience suggests there will be a sizable drop in subscribers to Ninja’s channel when the two free months run out.
However, if Ninja manages to get only get a tiny portion of his fan base to subscribe he will still be creating tons of revenue. For instance, let’s say only 1% of his 14.5 million subscribers stay on Mixer. At $5.99 a month that is over $10.42 million of revenue a year.
Does the platform or creator hold power?
Mixer and Twitch both face challenges retaining creators, though it is Twitch that is feeling the brunt of the problem. Many gamers complain they are not paid enough. With Twitch still dominating the space, more of its top streamers are thinking of moving platform to improve their money-making prospects. If Ninja’s move to Mixer turns out to be a success, many Twitch creators may follow.
By moving to Mixer, Ninja is asking one of the biggest questions in social video. Who has more power, the creators, or the platform? When the two-month free trial periods expire, we may finally get an answer.