Content creators have faced varying degrees of success when migrating to a number of growing streaming platforms like YouTube Live and Facebook. A variety of factors influence the number of viewers that follows them, but audience engagement and loyalty are by far the most significant.
As a growing number of platforms that have traditionally only provided VOD begin offering live streaming services, content creators are faced with an increasingly difficult decision – continue streaming on Twitch to a familiar community, or migrate to another platform and risk their viewership numbers in exchange for a larger, potentially massive audience? Viewership patterns and content discovery differ significantly between platforms, and success on Twitch does not necessarily entail that audiences will follow creators through a migration. Likewise, the factors that lead creators to thrive vary between individual channels, and those who have already made the switch don’t always provide a clear example for others to follow. However, as a growing number of creators continue adopting newer streaming platforms, several differentiating indicators do emerge that shed light on identifying those channels that are more likely to preserve their audience and experience a successful migration.
A number of these indicators relate to the nature of content discovery and consumption. YouTube, for example, heavily skews towards consumption on mobile compared to switch (70% vs 35% for Twitch), and particularly with the growth of short form content, is dominated by shorter 8-20 minute long videos. As the second largest search engine in the world, YouTube also favors VOD content served to viewers who search for specific content, compared to the kind of organic growth driven by channel surfing through which many channels on Twitch thrive. What we then observed, is that the channels most likely to succeed in a migration to YouTube are those with higher viewer engagement, whose viewers tend to seek out and spend time watching a specific creator. This trend was consistent with migrations to Facebook as well, and channels that tended to thrive on organic growth through the discovery mechanism on Twitch consistently experienced less successful migrations than those with high viewer engagement.
To identify the importance of audience engagement in successful platform migrations, Gamesight followed three influencers in particular, who recently migrated from Twitch to other streaming platforms with varying degrees of success. In August, TimTheTatman and DrLupo began streaming live content on YouTube Live, and DasMehdi on Facebook. Of the three streamers, TimTheTatman found the greatest success at retaining viewership momentum, stemming from his ability to create long-term loyal viewers who continue to return to his channel after they watch him for the first time. This success also aligns with his overall audience draw - a significant percentage of his audience only watch streaming content on the days when TimtheTatman is live. DrLupo and DasMehdi, on the other hand, seemed to have lost both viewership and momentum from both the nature of their communities on Twitch as well as the discovery mechanisms on the platforms to which they migrated.
Viewership Metric Changes
Following DrLupo’s last Twitch stream, his average viewership has decreased from 9.3k on Twitch to 4.4k on YouTube Live, stemming from what appears to be his pull towards relatively small, long-term set of viewer. DrLupo’s overall retention rate among new viewers after 90 days was only half that of DasMehdi and TimTheTatman, and during his final month on Twitch, only 6% of the viewers he had reached across 2020 and 2021 had been retained.
The high churn rate indicates that DrLupo thrived from built-in discovery mechanisms that were provided by Twitch along with promotional marketing. Those viewers that did land were then less loyal, and less likely to follow him through a platform switch. However, the effect of his departure was quite staggering on the viewership of his engaged viewers, who consumed 22% less content on Twitch post-migration, and of whom 28% left Twitch altogether.
The significance of audience engagement’s effect on migration can also be seen through the viewership numbers of his primary game, Escape from Tarkov. Even though the majority of DrLupo’s content consisted of EFT, his streams only made up 16% of total viewership on Twitch when he was live. On YouTube, where EFT has been less relevant, the audience who followed his stream through migration brought the total viewership of EFT content when he was live to 72%. This boost in the viewership numbers, to a small degree, offset the negative effect of his relatively low audience engagement numbers - it place EFT on YouTube Live’s “Top Games” section, which in turn drives up organic discovery for the game and its streamers.
While DrLupo’s disappointing migration results may have been driven by a lack of audience engagement and a reliance on Twitch’s organic discovery mechanisms, DasMehdi’s migration to Facebook demonstrates the importance of audience loyalty on successful platform migration. In fact, DasMehdi carried the highest 90-day retention rate among the three creators we analyzed and was reaching new viewers at a consistent rate month-over-month. This would lead us to expect DasMehdi’s audience to follow him off platform and continue to find similar success on Facebook. Nevertheless, we found that only one in ten engaged viewers indeed followed him off Twitch – a rate one third of that of TimTheTatman and DrLupo.
Why did DasMehdi struggle to retain viewers despite his high audience engagement numbers? The answer lies in audience loyalty - Even the most loyal among DasMehdi’s audience were coming to Twitch as a platform destination, and not DasMehdi's channel in particular. This could be partially attributed to the highly collaborative nature of DasMehdi, who co-streamed often with Budda, and with whom he shared an overlapping audience. In fact, when DasMehdi switched to Facebook, daily content consumption by his engaged audience among other creators increased by 11% on average.
Of the three creators in our breakdown, we found TimTheTatman was the most successful at bringing his audience with him to a new platform. We even found signs that the audience he brought over have gone on to watch other creators on YouTube Live something we haven’t seen strong evidence of with DrLupo or DasMehdi.
Many of TimTheTatman’s viewers (engaged and other) logged onto Twitch only on days when he was streaming, in contrast to DrLupo for instance, where this effect is only visible with his engaged viewers. TimTheTatman’s engagement with his audience on and off Twitch meant that a large portion of his audience were first and foremost his fans, rather than loyal Twitch viewers. Like DrLupo, TimTheTatman also saw very high user retention – 26% of viewers in January of 2020 continued to watch his streams during his last month on Twitch, and among his newer viewers, nearly 2 in 10 would continue watching his streams after 3 months. Unlike DasMehdi, whose departure led to an increase of Twitch consumption by his engaged audience, viewership on Twitch by TimTheTatman’s engaged audience a staggering 26%, and 27% of those viewers stopped watching content on Twitch altogether.
Furthermore, TimTheTatman was able to leverage both his high audience engagement and loyalty numbers to even greater effect on YouTube Live by focusing more heavily on streams of his primary game, Call of Duty: Warzone. CoD has been a fairly popular game on YouTube Live, and his migration substantially shifted viewership patterns for the game, capturing 71% of its total viewership when TimTheTatman was live. His migration not only further elevated CoD viewership on YouTube, but also substantially increased the viewership of another prominent CoD streamer, Dr Disrespect, with whom he often co-streams.
TimTheTatman’s successful migration was distinguished by the two most important indicators that Gamesight has been able to identify – audience engagement and audience loyalty. Yet, neither of these factors are absolute requisites to migration. As we saw with DrLupo’s migration, elevating a particular game’s popularity and visibility on a new platform can help to some extent offset the lack of an engaged audience. Similarly, audience engagement alone is not a useful predictor of migration success – the viewership patterns of an engaged audience are an equally important consideration. For content creators looking to switch to a new platform, assuming that the creator is the engine of migration success and planning a meticulous migration strategy that idea may not bear fruition. From our analysis, it’s clear that success lies in the viewership patterns of a creator’s existing audience on Twitch. From there, it appears the most important consideration is determining whether that audience displays those characteristics that would lead them to follow a streamer onto a new platform – with audience engagement and loyalty standing out as critical factors to migration success.
At Gamesight, we help PC and console marketers implement performance marketing techniques for their games. If you are seeking help setting up and measuring your campaigns, working with influencers, or would like to simply talk with us about this article, please reach out on our website!