2020 was an interesting year for live streaming, marked by its enormous expansion thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. Live streaming moved beyond gaming, as music, cultural events, sports, and social commentary became much more popular streaming topics.
Last year’s controversy over Tyler "Ninja" Blevins and Michael "Shroud" Grzesiek moving from Amazon’s Twitch to Microsoft’s Mixer ended up being for naught. Mixer abruptly shut down its streaming platform in June 2020. Although Mixer tried to shuttle its streamers to Facebook Gaming to take some market share away from Twitch, many former Mixer creators ended up with Twitch anyway.
As with most industries in 2020, big changes came to live streaming. More people are streaming than ever before – Twitch’s active streamers nearly tripled in 2020. But that doesn’t mean the live streaming ecosystem is any kinder or easier for people who want to survive in it. And as always, knowledge is your best armor that doubles as a weapon, so here are the stats that will improve your live streaming this year.
🧑💻 Changing audience habits
We’ve seen viewer habits change steadily over the past decade or so. Now, with two new generations — Millennials and Gen Z — coming into focus as part of the coveted demographic slice, it’s even more important to understand what devices they use to consume their content and what habits they form. Stay-at-home orders due to COVID-19 were a significant factor in viewership in 2020, increasing numbers exponentially.
1. Viewer habits are changing. Despite stay-at-home orders due to the pandemic, the average time spent viewing traditional TV by 18- to 34-year-olds declined 15.3% from Q1 2019 to Q1 2020.
2. Younger people don’t seem to like watching traditional TV as much. Traditional TV viewing also fell among 35- to 49-year-olds, by 8.7% YoY.
3. The 12 to 17 age group is the only age group that spends more time per day on TV-connected devices than watching traditional TV.
4. When asked what they’d prefer to watch with two hours to kill, only 5% of live streamers said they’d turn to traditional live TV. More than half said they’d watch YouTube.
5. Around 40% of computer and mobile video viewers fall in the 13 to 34 age bracket.
6. Younger viewers are also pickier. It takes 9.4 minutes on average for viewers ages 18 to 34 to sift through content selection menus before they find something to watch. For the average American 18+ viewer, that time is 7.4 minutes.
7. Younger viewers are also more adventurous. 18- to 34-year-olds are most likely to watch something different than usual (35%), but are also most likely to give up the search and decide not to watch anything (28%).
8. In households with OTT or streaming devices, viewers spend 19% of their TV-viewing time streaming content.
9. People don’t think TV is that important anymore. Only 42% of people hold on to their cable subscription so they can watch live TV.
10. Almost a third of those cable keepers would cut the cord if they could live stream sports, events, and news.
11. People watch an average of 16 hours of online video per week – a 52% increase in the last two years.
🎬 The platforms they are using to watch content
If we’re talking about watching live content online, it’s impossible to skip live streaming platforms. Increasingly, however, social networks have also been establishing themselves as places where people can watch — and broadcast — live content. Here are some stats that should illustrate the streaming platform landscape.
12. If we’d use hours watched as the main criteria, Twitch would be the biggest live streaming platform in the world. Twitch grew 56% in hours watched from Q1 to Q2 of 2020, passing five billion hours watched.
13. It’s also expanding quickly. Twitch set a new record for hours watched in October 2020, reaching 1.6 billion – a 99% YoY growth from October 2019.
14. If we’d use the number of monthly active users, Facebook would be the biggest website with live streaming capabilities in the world. The social network reached 2.7 billion monthly active users in Q2 of 2020.
15. Facebook Gaming continues to grow month-over-month in 2020, hitting 346 million hours watched in August 2020.
16. When looking at websites that are primarily video platforms, YouTube has the most monthly active users — two billion worldwide.
17. Twitch has over 15 million unique daily visitors and three million content creators – broadcasters.
18. Twitch also has 500,000 streamers active every day.
19. Twitch leads the live streaming market as of Q2 2020, taking up 67.6% of the market share.
20. When looking at total views across the three major platforms – Twitch, YouTube, and Facebook Gaming – viewership increased from 3.89 billion hours in Q3 2019 to 7.46 billion hours in Q3 2020.
21. The “Lockdown Spike” from March to May 2020 was kindest to Facebook and Twitch. Facebook won the most views, growing 239%. Twitch won the most hours watched, increasing by 267%.
22. Facebook Gaming grew the most in 2019, with a 210% YoY rate, and growth has been consistent in 2020 as well. The platform hit a milestone when it reached 346 million hours watched in a single quarter.
23. When Microsoft shut down Mixer in June 2020, it announced plans to partner with Facebook Gaming. But many of Mixer’s streamers declined to join Facebook Gaming, and some went back to Twitch. As a result, Twitch now hosts more than 91% of streaming content.
24. For its part, YouTube Gaming managed to double its hours watched YoY in Q2 – with 749 hours watched in 2019 and 1503 hours watched in 2020.
25. YouTube has battled with Twitch for viewers throughout 2020, and YouTube came out on top at the end of Q3, grabbing 44% of hours watched to Twitch’s 37%.
26. Daily watch time for Facebook Live broadcasts grew four times over the course of a year.
27. Facebook Live’s growth also validates this stat: rather than read social media posts, 82% of people prefer a live video.
28. Periscope, Twitter’s live streaming platform, has over 9.3 million live streams monthly.
29. More than 70% of YouTube watch time comes from mobile devices. According to YouTube, mobile video viewing rises by 100% each year.
👀 What are they watching and how?
We know live streaming is becoming a popular way to present content because there’s an audience eager to watch it. We also know the platforms they’re choosing for content consumption. Not let’s see what – and who – they like watching the most.
Live streaming has gone hand-in-hand with gaming nearly since its inception, and gaming categories were the most watched on Twitch in 2019. But in 2020, the pandemic and powerful social issues like Black Lives Matter prompted many non-gamers to start live streaming as well.
30. Games are no longer the most-watched streaming categories on Twitch. Just Chatting increased 94% in hours watched from January to June 2020.
31. Gaming still dominates on Twitch, though, with the other nine categories in Twitch’s top ten in 2020 being games. League of Legends, Grand Theft Auto V, and Fortnite took up second, third, and fourth for most hours watched, after Just Chatting.
32. Younger streamers still flock to gaming. 78% of streamers under 24 say they primarily stream about gaming or Esports.
33. Two out of the five most-subscribed channels on YouTube feature gaming-related content.
34. According to our data, only 54% of content creators stream about Esports.
35. The most-watched live streamer of 2020 was Summit1g, with over 75 million hours watched and 5.3 million followers.
36. Viya, a Chinese streamer from the platform Taobao, managed to generate almost $50 million worth of sales by promoting products during a live stream.
37. About one-third of China’s internet users watched live streaming e-commerce in the first half of 2020.
38. The live stream that holds the record for the most concurrent views on YouTube was Felix Baumgartner’s space jump with a peak viewership of eight million.
39. In April, Italian tenor singer Andrea Bocelli reached over 2.8 million concurrent views on an Easter Sunday performance at the Duomo in Milan, Italy – becoming the second most popular live stream in YouTube history.
40. The stream with the most concurrent views in Twitch’s history was the League of Legends Worlds in November 2019, with 1.7 million concurrent viewers at one stage.
📸 An industry snapshot
Finally, no set of statistics would be complete without an industry snapshot. Live streaming is a growing industry, but it’s dependent on many factors, most notably access to fast internet. In 2020, one of those important factors was also the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Let’s check up on the forces that shape the industry and see how well live streaming is faring.
41. The global average download speed over fixed broadband was 85.73 Mbps as of September 2020.
42. A year before, it was 63.85 Mbps, increasing by 34% in a single year.
43. The world’s mean download speed over mobile was 35.96 Mbps in 2020.
44. This represented a 30% increase from 2019, when the global mean download speed over mobile was 27.69 Mbps.
45. The coronavirus pandemic changed the internet. The global average fixed speed increased by 5%, and mobile speed by 7%.
46. Internet traffic increased in many countries, with one of the highest being a 109.3% increase in Italy.
47. The live streaming industry took part in this internet traffic growth – a 99% expansion between April 2019 and April 2020.
48. The pandemic also drove 53% of U.S. adults to say the internet has been essential during the pandemic.
49. In 2017, video accounted for 75% of global IP traffic.
50. By 2022, global video IP traffic is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 29%, reaching an 82% share of all IP traffic.
51. Live video is expected to grow 15-fold by 2022 and reach a 17% share of all internet traffic.
52. By 2027, the global video streaming market size is projected to reach $184.3 billion.
53. The coronavirus pandemic made virtual events a new mainstay. More than half of our survey respondents expect live-streamed events to completely replace in-person events. 53% also saw higher event attendance after going virtual in 2020.
54. China leads the world when it comes to using live streaming for e-commerce purposes. Short video/live streaming platforms Kuaishou and Douyin have 50% and 25% live streaming content in their Local Content sections, respectively.
55. Most consumers want to see more videos from brands — 80% would prefer to watch a live video than read a blog post.
56. Video is a useful tool for marketers – 92% of marketers who use video say it’s an important part of their marketing strategies.
57. COVID-19 had an impact on marketing and live streaming, with 75% of survey respondents saying they increased live streaming investments in 2020.
58. Facebook is the number-one platform where marketers plan to invest in the next 12 months, followed by YouTube and Instagram.
59. Video and live streaming have proven to be very effective for marketing, so much so that 91% of marketers who are live streaming say they will continue even after the pandemic ends.
60. Since the pandemic started, 70% of enterprise streamers now stream weekly or daily.
Whether you’re an audience member, a content creator, or a marketer who wants to explore various use cases for live streaming, you should get the same takeaway from these stats. Live streaming is not only alive and well, but it’s thriving. In 2021 and post-COVID-19, it will continue to grow and attract more audiences and content creators.