Twitch’s big-name streamers flocked to the closed beta of Riot Games’ new shooter VALORANT, helping generate record viewership for the platform from a single game.
This also led to the end of ESL’s multi-week reign as the number one channel on Twitch as influencers known for the shooter genre saw their numbers skyrocket thanks to the chance viewers had to be rewarded for tuning in.
Twitch’s Top Content – Valorant
In its first month after release, 2019’s smash hit Apex Legends generated 123M hours watched. The month-long League of Legends World Championship, one of the most-watched annual esports events, reached 125M. During the first week it was able to be streamed, VALORANT exceeded both figures, reaching 128.12M hours watched. Last year, Apex Legends was considered a major success for reaching 30M hours watched in consecutive weeks. VALORANT’s initial success is on another level entirely.
Of course, there are mitigating circumstances that allowed VALORANT to reach unprecedented numbers. Shelter-in-place orders and self-quarantine due to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has increased Twitch viewership across the board. Further, with the game in closed beta, those interested in learning about Riot’s highly anticipated game had no other way to remain part of the conversation other than to watch. Additionally, Twitch had partnered with Riot to give away beta access to random viewers who tuned in to high-profile streamers. This meant that many excited gamers who wanted access to this exclusive club kept these broadcasts open all day long just for the chance at getting into the beta.
These access giveaways, colloquially called “drops” have historically inflated viewership for games, leading to a sharp decline once the drop period ends. VALORANT found unprecedented success with its drops, but that decline is no doubt around the corner whenever the drop period ends, or the game moves into an open beta phase.
Twitch’s Top Channel – Summit1g
When a new game generates this level of viewership, the numbers for its most popular streamers will naturally inflate along with it. Since the departure of Michael “Shroud” Grzesiek and Tyler “Ninja” Blevins from the platform, Twitch’s leading figure when a new shooter emerges has consistently been former Counter-Strike pro Jaryd “Summit1g” Lazar. Lazar, in particular, earned his boosted figures through marathon broadcast sessions, streaming for over 20 hours on multiple days.
Other streamers with less intensive schedules also saw growth due to VALORANT’s unique level of interest. In the last week of March, only one channel (ESL’s Counter-Strike: Global Offensive Pro League coverage) surpassed 2M hours watched. This week, every channel surpassed that total, with seven of the top 10 exceeding 3M.
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