Even if people are working from home, they still need something to watch and do. And to nobody’s surprise, more Australians are turning to streams as a way to keep entertained while under quarantine or self-isolation, according to new figures from StreamElements.
StreamElements, an advanced version of the Open Broadcaster Software Studio that’s designed for full-time streamers, released figures earlier this week on how esports, charities and the music industry were being affected post-coronavirus.
The biggest impact, understandably, was on viewership in Italy: The amount of minutes of streams (that are broadcast through StreamElements) watched in Italy has grown by more than two-thirds since the first week of February. That’s no surprise, especially since Italy’s equivalent of Telstra, Telecom Italia SpA, has seen a similar increase in network usage, telling analysts that “online gaming such as Fortnite” was a large factor.
I asked StreamElements if they could supply figures on Australia, and the company got back to me on Tuesday morning noting that Australia has seen double-digit growth as well.” One of the repercussions of more people staying indoors in their country is the rise of viewership of livestreamed gaming content,” Doron Nir, StreamElements CEO, said over email.
Based on the thousands of top streamers in Australia who use StreamElements to create live content on Twitch, YouTube, Facebook, and Mixer, we have seen livestream viewership grow approximately 20 percent in terms of the minutes watched since the first week of February and this last week from March 9th to the 15th.
That’s not hugely surprising, especially since we’ve seen similar flow-on effects to Steam. People are looking for escapism and entertainment, and video games – or hanging out with other people playing video games, or just hanging out on a stream in general – are a perfect tool for that.
And it’s worth noting the real figure could be much higher. The way StreamElements collates their figures relies on streamers using the StreamElements program, so anyone streaming through XSplit or regular OBS won’t be counted. That doesn’t muddy the waters quite as much as you would think: StreamElements is hugely popular because of the custom overlay editor, themes, payment processing features designed for streamers, plugins for selling merchandise and automated chatbot with spam protection.
So, realistically, Australians are probably watching even more streams and video games than that. Mobile networks have already eased data usage limits temporarily, and services like Discord have had minor outages as they deal with the massive spike in usage. And as researchers are now confirming, horrifingly, that COVID-19 is spreading presymptomatically much more than we thought, chances are that usage is only going to climb.