If you’re thinking about creating an account on Twitch to earn money and build a large following, you’ll be competing with over 2 million broadcasters, many with the same goal in mind. Additionally, you’ll want to think about the time commitment required to build an audience significant enough to sustain yourself. Data from channels that have built huge audiences reveals that it can take about 3 years to grow your audience to reach into the top 5% of channels.
On June 14th, we took a snapshot of channels that were currently broadcasting one of the eleven games listed below. At that time, there were 4,213 streams occurring. Although this is a small sample size of the more than 1.7 million monthly broadcasters, there are some interesting trends that can reveal how difficult it is to join the elite group of channels that are in the 95th percentile of followers.
For each of these games, there is a select group of channels that have built a significant following (2 standard deviations greater than the mean number of followers per channel). For the purposes of this article, these channels are designated as “Outliers”.
In the world of eSports and gaming, there’s a business opportunity when building an audience reaching millions of views. Channels can make money on subscribers, donations, merchandise, coaching, and advertising. If you assume a low click thru rate of 0.10% and an average cost per click of $5, would yield a total revenue of $950,000 for TSM_TheOddOne. Not bad (and probably a conservative estimate) for a 27 year old player who created this channel in 2012. That’s almost $250,000 per year without factoring in his team winnings, but also ignoring the Twitch rev share rate, which might be close to 40%.
But how difficult is it to reach this level? Examining channels that are Outliers, i.e. in the 95th percentile of followers for each game, it’s clear that it takes years of dedication and consistent playing to reach this large of an audience. In fact, 75% of the Outlier channels were created in 2013 or earlier. The vast majority of accounts that were streaming the selected games on June 14th, however, were created in 2014 or later.
It takes years to build an audience significant enough to earn elite status the Twitch ecosystem. If you’re planning to build a business, you’ll have to dedicate years and many hours every day engaging with your channel and followers. Just like in any media business, building a huge audience certainly isn’t for the faint of heart in gaming.