Whatever expectations Twitch viewers had for 2020 were quickly thrown out the window in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Streaming viewership worldwide soared, with Stream Elements reporting that Twitch saw 101% growth year-over-year in April. On top of the general growing interest in streaming and gaming, the closed beta of Riot Games’ new shooter VALORANT brought with it an unprecedented demand for viewer rewards and record numbers.
Still, with all the upheaval of 2020 so far, the name at the top of the list has been among the most consistent performers on Twitch for several years. Jaryd “Summit1g” Lazar generated 76.97M hours watched during the first half of the year. While a significant portion of that viewership came during April’s VALORANT craze, Lazar has established himself as a variety streamer, broadcasting a wide array of games. This makes him able to remain relevant regardless of how trends ebb and flow on the platform.
The month of VALORANT viewer-inflation was especially beneficial to one streamer – Ludwig “Anomaly” Lagerstedt. An unlikely contender for Top 10 under normal circumstances, Lagerstedt used the high demand for closed beta access in combination with 24/7 replays of previous broadcasts in order to catapult to 4th place with 46.94M hours watched. His success was so directly linked to this manipulation of the viewership incentive program that Twitch had to change its policy regarding previously-recorded broadcasts being used during a drop period.
Lastly, it is worth noting the absence of the Riot Games channel – a staple at the top of Twitch throughout 2019. This year, Riot decided to separate the various League of Legends leagues into their own channels. While this gives a more accurate picture of viewership for each league, the loss of a primary aggregate stream sufficiently reduced Riot’s hours watched on a single channel to make Top 10 appearances much rarer. Various leagues have appeared in the top 10 during pivotal weeks, but have not remained staples of the top 10 the way their combined viewership did in previous years.
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