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Live streaming services are the main viewing medium of esports. A massive nine billion viewing hours took place on the three largest streaming platforms in the second quarter of 2021. More recently, free-to-air networks have televised some esports leagues and championships live. Watching esports is entering the mainstream.
Around 10 years ago, new technologies gave rise to a variety of new platforms for streaming media content targeting a wide array of traditional broadcast audiences online. Streaming allowed for a new type of social TV that provides an interactive platform for audiences to engage, on a personal level, with their favorite gamer personalities and games. Twitch which is now owned by Amazon was the first streaming platform to be launched. It launched in 2011 and is the largest platform today. The other top streaming platforms include YouTube Gaming Live, Facebook Gaming, Mixer (owned by Microsoft), Caffeine and Steam TV.
Unlike television, streaming platforms do more than just stream matches and championships. Large crowds of casual gamers and fans get together to watch live video gaming and participate in active chat rooms to discuss the gameplay. Watching top League of Legends gamers explain their strategies is like attending an online webinar at times. Live-streamers on the service that engage live crowds and keeping viewers watching, earn through a combination of subscriptions, donations (known as bits), adverts, sponsorships and merchandise.
Gamers enjoy the content, enjoying unprecedented exposure.
Brands too advertise or run their own channels as a strategy to reach gen-Z and millennial gamers.
The chart below sets out the top games of 2020 by hours watched