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Flagging Fortnite Vacates Top Spot on Twitch Streaming Platform

Last Updated September 23, 2020 12:49 PM
Thomas Bardwell
Last Updated September 23, 2020 12:49 PM

Twitch viewership results for the first half of 2018 are in, and Riot Games’ massively popular MOBA League of Legends has ousted Fortnite from the top spot for the first time in over a year.

Data compiled  by The Esports Observer indicates League of Legends amassed 512.3 million hours watched while Fortnite accrued 465 million hours from January 2019 to June. Twitch viewers watched 531.1 million hours of Fortnite and 435.2 million hours of League of Legends during the same period in 2018.

Fortnite Flags As It Vacates Top Spot on Twitch
Source: The Esports Observer
Fortnite Flags As It Vacates Top Spot on Twitch
Source: The Esports Observer

The results put League of Legends on course to surpass the 1 billion watched-hour mark similar to what Fortnite attained in 2018. The growing popularity and high production value of its well-curated eSports ecosystem, notably the LoL Championship series in North America, has aided League of Legends’ success.

Fortnite Growth Flags, But Players Remain Invested

Fortnite’s waning figures on Twitch pale in comparison to the battle royale title’s stratospheric rise to pop culture phenomenon last year. That’s when it stormed onto the scene to dominate not only the gaming news cycle but spawned celebrity streamers such as Tyler “Ninja” Blevins.

Ninja’s case is an interesting one, as his channel jumped from the most-watched by a staggering margin of 127 million hours to his closest competitor to struggling to rake in a comparatively modest 40,000 daily viewers nowadays.

His rise was also peppered with forays into popular culture as he teamed up  with music superstar Drake for a bout of Fortnite in March 2018. The event raked in 635,000 peak concurrent viewers, breaking the Twitch record for the most-viewed non-tournament stream. Appearances on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon and The Ellen Show helped to solidify Ninja’s position as a de facto mascot for the game.

2019 hasn’t been as kind to the young streamer. Viewer numbers have steadily declined as interest in Fortnite has waned in part due to the emergence of competitor battle royale title Apex Legends.

Although Fortnite’s Twitch decline is symptomatic of a general move away from the game, the fortunes of Epic Games’ flagship title aren’t bad by any means. New player growth has slowed, but player numbers remain high with over 450 million registered users and a steady slew of updates to keep them playing.

Twitch is a good indicator of a game’s popularity but tends to attract hardcore fans and gamers rather than casual players; as such, it cannot be taken as gospel when determining Fortnite’s overall fate.

Renewed Enthusiasm For GTA V & Just Chatting Streams

The report showed that IRL, now known as Just Chatting, a channel category for all non-gaming content, jumped up the standings with 372.5 million hours in H1 2019, up from 239.5 million in H1 2018. Interest in broadcasts focused on personality-driven alternative content is growing as streamers venture into the “real world” and take part in other pursuits such as art and music.

Fortnite Flags As It Vacates Top Spot on Twitch
Source: Grand Theft Auto V/ Rockstar Games

Rockstar Games’ criminal open-world epic Grand Theft Auto V saw a similar increase in hours viewed, tallying up to 269.1 million in H1 2019 – a significant improvement on H1 2018’s 58.8 million. Droves of popular streamers flocked to GTA V role-playing servers in March and April, which secured renewed enthusiasm for the title that appears to be holding out. The contained communities of these servers foster player-generated narratives that can span weeks and loop in a variety of different characters for a viewer experience that surpasses the linear nature of most Twitch gaming content.

Viewership for Apex Legends soared, numbering 181.4 million hours despite EA releasing it as recently as February. Perennial heavy hitters Dota 2, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, and World of Warcraft recorded a small decline but nothing in the same ballpark as Fortnite. Battle royale pioneer PUBG has disappeared from the top 10, a vertiginous fall from the 232.2 million hours the game logged last year.