I hear you like to watch
There seems to be no stopping the steamroller success of the internet’s premier live-streaming service, Twitch — indeed, across 2021, the site has seen a huge 45% year-on-year increase in viewership figures when compared to the previous year. Altogether this equates to some 24 billion hours spent watching other people gaming, painting, bathing, and… sleeping.
The new figures, (tabulated by the number-crunchers over at Rainmaker.gg), namecheck three specific titles as having achieved over one billion hours in viewing figures. There will be no odds offered against wild guesses, as the three games in question are — unsurprisingly — Rockstar’s moneymaker Grand Theft Auto V (2.1 billion hours), Riot Games’ uber-popular MOBA League of Legends (1.8 billion hours), and, of course, Epic Games’ battle royale juggernaut Fortnite (a modest one billion hours).
Obviously, the cumulative total of 24 billion includes all forms of streaming, including presentations, tournaments, TV shows, and restreams. Any way you slice it, the numbers are jaw-dropping, as online streaming continues to cement its role as the modern form of televisual entertainment. With each and every passing year, “flicking through the TV channels” becomes more of an antiquated concept, with streaming services like Netflix, video sharing sites such as YouTube, and live-streaming platforms such as Twitch and Facebook Gaming — which clocked 5.3 billion hours itself over the course of the year — becoming the defacto viewing choice for those looking while away the couch hours.
It would be remiss, however, not to note that Twitch has also come under heavy scrutiny this past year for what its users see as a major failure to protect streamers — particularly minority streamers — from a plethora of racist, homophobic, and transphobic attacks from “hate raids” — planned and targeted attacks performed by viewers and bots. These attacks brought frustration and misery to many streamers, who felt Twitch made little effort to investigate and/or eliminate the ongoing problem. In August, a boycott event dubbed “#ADayOffTwitch” was arranged in an effort to both call attention to the problem while demanding better moderation and security for the site’s users.