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Twitch’s most-watched streamer so far in 2019, Turner “Tfue” Tenney, announced late last week that he was taking a break from streaming following a peculiar couple of weeks for the influencer that included straying away from Fortnite and complaining about the competitive balance of the title as an esport.
While Tenney did not immediately disclose why he was taking a break from streaming or what his plans were for a potential return, he has since posted screenshots on his Twitter page showing results from his participation in Epic Games’ weekly Cash Cup event indicating that he might be taking a break from streaming, but not Fortnite.
However, even though Tenney is still competing in Fortnite the loss of his presence on Twitch leaves a void in Fortnite viewership that may or may not even be capable of being filled.
This year alone, Tenney has generated 73.1M hours watched playing Fortnite almost exclusively. His hours watched on Fortnite accounts for more than 11% of the game’s 641.7M hours watched through Sept. 13, when he last streamed.
The next most-watched Fortnite streamer this year is Tyler “Ninja” Blevins with just more than half the viewership of Tenney at 40.8M hours watched, and he left Twitch earlier in the summer to stream exclusively on Mixer.
There was a time in 2018 when Epic Games’ battle royale game transcended being just a dominant force for generating an audience on Twitch and became an iconic part of popular culture.
Blevins was the face of the game, and the face of Twitch by extension. However, as time wore on, Blevins’ growth became less about streaming on Twitch and more about expanding his brand to reach more people through partnerships and appearances that put him in a more public spotlight.
With Blevins shifting gears, one particularly skilled Fortnite player began to grow on Twitch with his gameplay and competitive mentality being the focus of his stream. After proving his worth through many early Fortnite competitions run by Daniel “Keemstar” Keem as well as Epic Games, Tenney became formidable competition for Blevins as a broadcast personality on Twitch.
While Blevins was a spunky, kid-friendly streamer who strategically combined his skills and ability to entertain in order to captivate viewers, Tenney was a competitor through and through. Many of his streams involved scrimmaging against other highly talented players and showing off how a skilled player competes as optimally as possible.
Tenney’s growth was further supplemented by his dedication to Fortnite as a game as well. In the fall of 2018, Tenney stood out by continuing to play Fortnite while other top influencers like Blevins took time off from the game to play the new Call of Duty title’s battle royale game mode.
Ever since Tenney became one of the top most-watched streamers on Twitch, his devotion to playing Fortnite on stream was one of the key elements that helped him differentiate himself from some of Twitch’s other top streamers.
Mining for Answers
However, Tenney’s dedication to the Fortnite grind has been tested recently. In the past month, Tenney has quit in the middle a Fortnite tournament, and on a couple of occasions, he’s even swapped out Fortnite to play Minecraft for a notable amount of time.
Over the course of 2019, Tenney has aired more than 1K hours of Fortnite with an average of 49K concurrent viewers. The second most-aired game on his stream is Minecraft, even though he only spent 16 hours playing the game in the past week or so. Just 474K hours watched on Minecraft was enough to make it his second most-watched game behind Fortnite.
While “burnout” could be listed as a plausible reason for Tenney ceasing to stream (or a recent incident that occurred while he was streaming Minecraft), his continued activity on Twitter and in Epic Games’ Fortnite esports events suggests that either Tenney is simply tired of being an “entertainer” or he could potentially be refraining from streaming following online backlash for the incident that happened earlier this month.
With no closure on if, or when, Tenney might be back, Fortnite as a form of content on Twitch is in a major state of flux. The title has seen viewership slide over the course of the year with Tenney being one of the major cogs in the machine that have managed to keep the title near, or even at, the top of Twitch.
It’s unclear how dedicated fans are to Tenney as a broadcast personality, or if people are watching him because he is the top streamer of Fortnite. However, in the few days since Tenney has stopped streaming, Nick “NickMercs” Kolcheff and Kyle “Mongraal” Jackson have seen a slight boost in average viewership.
Since Friday, Kolcheff has averaged 26K concurrent viewers, up from the 21K CCV he had for the month of August. Jackson’s viewership is up to 38K CCV, he was averaging 32K for the 18-day period prior to Tenney’s announcement.
That doesn’t account for all of Tenney’s viewers though. Prior to leaving Twitch, Tenney had an average of 49K CCV in the month of August. In fact, in the past few weeks, with Tenney taking time to play Minecraft and numerous influencers taking a break to play World of Warcraft Classic, Fortnite has seen a steady decline in overall hours watched week-over-week.
There is no definitive answer about what will happen to Tenney’s audience, but if his absence from Twitch is extended, there is a strong chance that Fortnite could take a hit on Twitch that could present an opportunity for other games to emerge and claim their stake in the upper echelon of most-watched content on Twitch.
As Epic Games continues to promote Fortnite as one of the most popular games in the world, having another influencer who can attract a sizeable audience to the game consistently could be vital to the growth of the game moving forward.
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