“It makes me more happy than I could ever explain, they’re the ones I started with,” Beaver said about his deal with Twitch. “I’m ecstatic. It’s hard to put in words to be honest. Here I am supporting my mom and family, but I am truly ecstatic and I’m very excited for the future and the content that is going to created,” Beaver, 27, told The Washington Post.
“When I started streaming in 2013, no one was making any money … and now it’s come to this, where it’s become this thing where people are getting life changing deals,” said Beaver, who was studying fire safety engineering in college and volunteered as a firefighter and EMT in college before becoming a full-time streamer.
The deals follow Twitch’s high profile signings of Ben “DrLupo” Lupo, Timothy “TimTheTatman” Betar, and Saqib “Lirik” Zahid last December.
All three streamers have big followings on Twitch. Beaver, who plays several games, counts 1.73 million followers on Twitch. Hoffman, 34, who favors Fortnite, has 4.3 million followers on Twitch. Lazar, 33, a multigame streamer, has 5 million followers on Twitch. Over the last three months, Lazar has been the most viewed streamer, for hours watched, with 53.95 million, according to Esports Charts Pro. In 2018, Hoffman’s stream was in the top 10 most watched on Twitch. A recent tournament, which Beaver’s team won, saw a peak of 175,000 concurrent viewers.
Michael Aragon, SVP of Content at Twitch, said in a press release that, “At a time when community is paramount, these Creators are a core part of Twitch’s mission to bring people together, and we’re excited to continue our partnership as we build the future of gaming and live entertainment.”
The signings come at a time of tremendous growth in the streaming industry, which has taken place with pandemic lockdowns and the cancellation of live sports and other forms of live entertainment.
Since January, Twitch has seen its hours watched count grow 81% to just under 1.8 billion hours in April, according to Esports Charts Pro. A report from StreamElements and Arsenal.gg, which shows the total number of hours watched on Twitch at 1.65 billion, shows other platforms lagging far behind.
While year over year growth for Twitch was over 100%, YouTube Gaming, which had 461 million hours watched last month, saw 65% growth, Facebook gaming, at 291 million hours last month, saw 238% growth, and Microsoft’s Mixer, which last month had 37.1 million hours watched, saw 0.2% growth, following a 149% spike from 2018-2019, according to StreamElements and Arsenal.gg.
Mixer's struggles have taken place despite their signing of Tyler “Ninja” Blevins, who has been the gaming industry’s first mainstream star, appearing on the cover of the defunct ESPN The Magazine, The Tonight Show, and a Super Bowl commercial.
Freytag said that streaming deals have evolved since he started Loaded in 2016 due to the proliferation of opportunities for streamers, who have become celebrities among the Gen Z and swaths of the millennial generations.
“In the past, it was streamers and influencers and that was what they were doing: they streamed on there, got off, and that was the end of the day. Now there’s commercials, Twitch rivals [an esports tournament with gamers and pro athletes], and merchandise,” he said. “Value has increased for all of the talent that is going through these processes.”
While not sharing numbers, Freytag said that in addition to the growing reach of streamers and the number of ways in which they can make money, competition among platforms has also increased the value of deals for gamers.
“The thing I’m most excited about is that streaming has become a thing, a thing that is going to stay as well,” Beaver said.