Ninja ditching Twitch for Microsoft's Mixer was a brilliant decision — here's why (MSFT, AMZN)


FILE PHOTO: Professional gamer Richard Tyler Blevins aka Ninja arrives for the Time 100 Gala celebrating Time magazine's 100 most influential people in the world in New York, U.S., April 23, 2019. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

  • Tyler “Ninja” Blevins is the world’s most popular professional gamer, and he recently signed an exclusive deal with Microsoft’s streaming platform Mixer.
  • Ninja saw his career skyrocket in 2018 thanks to “Fortnite,” the free-to-play game that has attracted more than 250 million players worldwide.
  • Ninja was named one of Time magazine’s 100 most influential people, having amassed more than 14 million followers on Twitch and another 22 million subscribers on YouTube.
  • But as the growth of “Fortnite” slows, Ninja has expressed an urge to pursue new opportunities, and his new deal with Mixer will help him do just that.
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Tyler “Ninja” Blevins has taken a major gamble by signing an exclusive partnership with Mixer, Microsoft’s video game streaming platform. Ninja is the world’s most popular gamer and the most followed streamer on Mixer’s primary competition, Twitch.

Ninja is best known for streaming “Fortnite,” the free-to-play game that has taken the world by storm. “Fortnite” has more than 250 million registered players and Ninja is known as one of the game’s best players. His reputation has earned him play sessions with celebrities like Drake, generating a massive fanbase in the process.

During 2018, Ninja became the first gamer to be featured on the cover of ESPN magazine, and in April he was named to Time magazine’s list of 100 most influential people. At the peak of “Fortnite’s” popularity, Ninja was reportedly earning as much as $500,000 a month from streaming and sponsorships.

Read more: Ninja wants to be more than just ‘the Fortnite Guy,’ but the world’s most popular gamer is headed into uncharted territory

But despite his success, Ninja has expressed a desire to expand his career beyond “Fortnite.” A recent report showed that competing streamers on Twitch were starting to surpass Ninja in watch time as “Fortnite’s” growth stagnates. With streamers relying primarily on viewer donations and subscriptions, a decline in traffic means an immediate decline in revenue.

Ninja left an audience of 14 million followers on Twitch to begin streaming on Mixer, with a hope that dedicated fans will move to the platform with him, and that Microsoft will provide him with new opportunities to move beyond “Fortnite.”

By signing with Microsoft, Ninja has secured some financial stability and a clear role as the face of Mixer. Twitch will continue to grow with or without Ninja thanks to its massive audience, but Mixer will likely rely on Ninja to continue promoting the platform.

Since its launch in January 2016, Mixer has struggled to find enough viewers to lure top streamers away from Twitch and YouTube. According to data from Streamlabs, Mixer had just 119 million hours watched during the second quarter of 2019, compared to 2.7 billion for Twitch, and 702 million for YouTube Gaming.

Still, Microsoft has shown that its willing to maintain its investment in streaming and the decision to sign Ninja to an exclusive partnership has already delivered increased visibility. The Mixer app became the most downloaded free app in Apple’s app store less than 24 hours after Ninja announced he was leaving Twitch. Ninja’s Mixer account welcomed roughly 300,000 followers by the time his first Mixer stream started on Aug. 2, and he’s already among the five most-followed accounts on the platform.

For his Mixer debut, Ninja is streaming in front of a live crowd at the Lollapalooza music festival from Aug. 2 to Aug. 4. The event is an example of Ninja’s unique marketability; he’s one of the only professional gamers with the visibility and charisma to draw a live audience at an event where gaming isn’t the focus.

By tying himself to Microsoft’s gaming endeavors with Mixer and Xbox, Ninja can slowly move away from his reputation as “The Fortnite Guy” and become an even bigger personality within the world of gaming.

SEE ALSO: Ninja wants to be more than just ‘the Fortnite Guy,’ but the world’s most popular gamer is headed into uncharted territory

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