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Out of the Mix: What Mixer’s acquisition means to Streamers
24 June 2020 15:56pm
As the dust begins to settle on the bombshell acquisition of Mixer by Facebook Gaming, it’s clear to see that the platform tried to be many things, to not so many people.
Launched independently as Beam back in early 2016, before quickly being snapped up by Microsoft the following August and rebranded, Mixer went in hard.
The service was lauded for its streaming quality and stability (including premium 4K with minimal latency), its big name signings of Ninja, Shroud and other huge talent, and a generally more friendly community, during a time when the Twitch community was getting flack for exactly the opposite.
In essence, it looked like the platform was preparing itself to take on the giant in the streaming space - Microsoft’s Mixer vs Amazon’s Twitch.
Yet with only 2.7% of the market in 2019, behind both Facebook (5%) and YouTube (20%), Mixer threw in the towel and went to Mark Zuckerberg with cap in hand. The game was over before it even began.
But what does this mean to those that it matters most to, the Influencer streaming community?
Community beats talent
First and foremost, I believe this acquisition shows the power of the little guys - the micro streamers, the up and comers, the ones who work hard for every viewer and every sub. Shroud and Ninja are two of the biggest (if not the biggest) players in the space, and yet they couldn’t save a platform that so deeply misunderstood the fact that you can’t compete in the Influencer streaming space without investment in true grassroots support.
Mixer had a community, but it opted for a few big guns, instead of raising an up and coming army of streamers, and their fans, from the grassroots.
This was a clear mistake for Mixer, as platforms that thrive in Influencer marketing such as Instagram or Twitch, rely on authentic grassroots growth of communities to build a long term following on their services. Both platforms are clear leaders in their respective spaces because they understand that their platform isn’t for the biggest talent - it’s for a multitude of different creators at different levels, with investment spread accordingly.
Ultimately, streaming is a cutthroat world, and is touted to be the future of many industries - which means that companies can’t afford to get it this wrong if they want to become a bigger player in the space.
Microsoft may have billions to play with, but a few hundred million dollars down the drain isn’t something that every company can brush off.
Facebook are making a play
After speaking to our CEO Drew Townley about the merger, we both feel that with the acquisition of Mixer, Facebook Gaming’s growth will accelerate even further as they attempt to migrate their current streamers and users over their platform - and with a 210% increase in hours watched last year, the next 18 months could see them shake the marketplace considerably.
This increase in overall watch time will mean greater exposure not only for streamers, but also for a variety of titles - and with a new Call of Duty on the horizon, as well as a new generation of consoles, Facebook have chosen their moment well to challenge the dominance of YouTube and Twitch.
Importantly, Facebook also has a strong acquisition strategy which allows them to nurture their existing talent, as well as onboard new streamers and Mixer refugees - and with the size of their platform, they can deploy a huge amount of press around this.
Ultimately, this makes them a platform that allows them to easily build a variety of grassroots communities, with the infrastructure and investment to support them. And despite Twitch’s rise to dominance over the last decade, it’s clear to see that their platform is beginning to feel very top heavy when it comes to talent - with new streamers struggling en masse to build a following.
Ninja and Shroud go to Twitch or YouTube, Facebook cleans up the rest
Speaking to Kairos Co-Founder, Mike Craddock, there’s a prevailing feeling that Ninja and Shroud will move to Twitch or YouTube.
Turning down an alleged $60m and $20m deal with Facebook shows that they’re not ready to jump into anything with the company at the moment, and both YouTube and Twitch are more game-oriented communities that are trusted by gamers en masse, especially in the wake of Facebook’s privacy issues.
However, Mike believes that Facebook will pick up a huge amount of smaller streamers due to its size, and I have to agree. At over 2.6 billion users, Facebook has the largest customer base in the world, and has the technology to hyper target segments of its user base by the millions, something that no other platform can do on such scale.
Equally, Facebook already has a built in revenue model for VOD content that is being repurposed and updated for streaming, meaning there are multiple revenue streams for creators who choose to stream on the platform.
So what does the future look like for streaming Influencers?
Here at Kairos, we believe that Twitch, YouTube and Facebook Gaming will be the three remaining streaming services left standing in a couple of years time - with outliers like Caffeine and D-Live falling to the wayside.
Equally, the acquisition of Mixer shows that money might buy you into the market, but unlike the recent tactics of Epic’s Games Store, exclusivity won’t keep you there. Building a community of streamers, who build communities natively within your platform, will be vital for YouTube and Facebook Gaming in eroding the lead that Twitch has built.
But now, with three major players making serious moves in the space, and top talent like Ninja and Shroud now free to stream where they like - now is the perfect time for up and coming streamers to build out their setups, choose their platforms, and commit to growing their following.
Regardless of who comes out on top, a streamlining of platforms for streaming Influencers to use will concentrate users, allowing new communities to sprout and grow, whilst providing enough competition to give those same Influencers great incentives.
So, whilst Mixer may have been a bombshell to the streaming Influencer community, great things can, and undoubtedly will come out of the proverbial ashes - as streaming continues to grow in popularity, backed by large investment and the opportunity that a new generation of gaming will bring.
But, wherever Ninja and Shroud turn to, may be a good place to start.