Twitch and esports are very much like the proverbial chicken and egg: “Twitch was the true accelerator of the growth of esports in the West,” as Newzoo put it in a recent report, but “esports has helped Twitch grow to the massive live video platform it is today.” In fact, according to its Twitch Tracker, more than 21 percent of “all hours watched” on Twitch from July to December 2015 was dedicated to esports, adding up to 475.5 million hours of content fired into your eyeballs.
MOBAs account for the lion's share of Twitch esports viewership, with 58 percent of the total hours watched during the second half of the year, most of it dedicated to League of Legends and Dota 2. Shooters, mainly CS:GO, made up another 27 percent of hours watched; the two genres together totaled almost 407 viewership hours in total. Ten percent of viewing time, amounting to a little over 47 million hours, went to strategy games, including StarCraft 2, Hearthstone, and Age of Empires 2: The Conquerors.
Interestingly, Newzoo found that “esports engagement” varied rather dramatically between franchises. 47 percent of StarCraft 2 hours viewed were “esports centered,” compared to just 13 percent of the hours spent on Hearthstone, which has “a relatively larger group of non-esports viewers.” The study also found that, while major events drove high levels of traffic, they also pulled eyes away from user-generated content: During the first three Saturdays of the NALCS 2016 Spring Split, user-made content viewership was down 44 percent compared to the preceding three Saturdays.
“The importance of esports for Twitch is reflected in its continued partnerships with publishers who are growing their franchises as esports titles,” Newzoo wrote. “The latest of these partnerships include Psyonix’s Rocket League and Super Evil MegaCorp’s mobile MOBA Vainglory. The latter also received a multi-million dollar investment from Twitch itself.”