Twitch vs Mixer
Why people are making the switch from Twitch to Mixer
Streamers have had their pick of streaming platforms for years now. There’s Hitbox, Azubu, YouTube Gaming, Twitch, Mixer, and several more. Twitch is by far the leader in the space in overall traffic and brand equity, but another contender has seriously stepped up its efforts in the past few months, Mixer. Our community debate is almost always buzzing and over the past month or two, we’ve seen more and more streamers declare that they are making the switch, or at least beginning to dabble in the up and coming streaming site. We interviewed a few of our members who’ve made the switch, and spent our own time on the platform to get to the bottom of it.
Started and run by Matt Salsamendi, Mixer was acquired by Microsoft in August 2016, a mere 8 months after launch. That’s a week or two in startup time (It’s pretty much the opposite of dog years). Since its acquisition, Mixer has been making some serious moves. Moves that have already lead to a little disruption. Mixer leans on the pre-existing infrastructure Microsoft has, and combines it with a unique way to stream, with virtually no delay between what’s happening behind the camera and what the viewers are seeing and hearing. Let’s take a look at its traffic before diving into why some of our members are beginning to make the switch.
Mixer hit 5 million hits to its site in March, a 108% increase from its traffic the month before. They had been basically stagnant for the prior 2 to 3 months at about the 2–3 million mark. Let’s put that in perspective. Twitch has the highest amount of traffic by far compared to other streaming platforms, sitting around 500 million hits a month on any given month. The platform fluctuates between around 480,000–550,000, but tends to stay above 500 million. It’s interesting to note that Mixers 5 million hits per month in comparison doesn’t even represent a fraction of the monthly fluctuations in traffic that Twitch has - but could that be of benefit to streamers? Some of our teachers like Ninja have spoken about the intention of searching for games to stream with less of an audience – making it easier to make a dent in the market.
YT gaming slides in at 28.7 million hits per month, but has had a long series of down months where it’s seen decreasing traffic.
The last site we’ll compare is Hitbox. Hitbox seems to have more traction in European countries according to analytics. It also appears to negatively correlate with Mixer in traffic, although there’s no evidence seen to say that Mixer is directly acquiring users from Hitbox. It’s still interesting to note that Hitbox was at 5 million in October and has dropped down to 2.9 million in March (almost the exact opposite of Mixer) suggesting migration from one to the other.
Now that you have a better idea of what the space and its players look like, let’s dive into why some of our users are switching over to Mixer.
Faster Than Light
Mixer is the first platform to tout Faster Than Light (FTL) streaming. When you stream on platforms like Twitch or Hitbox, there’s always a delay of at least a few seconds. “FTL is our brand new streaming protocol that allows for sub-second video latency when streaming. FTL enables streamers to interact with their viewers in real time, it’s specifically tailored towards streams that engage viewers with interactive controls.” — Mixer.pro Blog
Having sub-second video latency is a big deal - especially when it comes to interacting with your audience. This provides a whole new level of fan engagement options while simultaneously alleviating that awkward silence between you typing out a question, and a streamer answering. Mixer also has an open API and gives its’ streamers/users the ability to use interactive panels. Commonly streamers will use the boards as a soundboard, where viewers can use their hard- earned sparks (earned by spending time watching streams) to play sound clips that a streamer has chosen to associate with interactive buttons beneath his or her stream feed.
While it sounds simple in concept, it really does make you feel more engaged in the stream. I wonder if once Mixer hits higher and higher traffic milestones, it will get to a point where interactivity through features such as the soundboard will have to be turned off to avoid a system overload. Or if the interactivity will start stopping the streamer from being to concentrate at all. One could look to Twitch streaming Pokemon and allowing users to control Ash by crowd sourced commands as a sign that the answer to that question would be - no, but only time will tell.
Some streamers have even gone above and beyond to use the sub-second latency and Mixers interactive channel dashboard to make their stream creative and unique. Sorryaboutyourcats for example. I don’t even know how to explain the cool ways this guy has been using Mixer, so I’ll just link his channel (he does a much better job of explaining it). I popped into a stream once where he had several robots on the floor, and users could control the robots through the Mixer interface to try and pop balloons.
“When it comes down to it, Mixer’s technology favors someone like myself. I stream for the interaction. I try and find unique ways to interact with people, and I love looking into the developer side of things as well. Having an open API and the ability to make interactive panels + streaming in a lag-less state is amazing.” — Lucid, Dojo Member, Streamer
The Microsoft Ecosystem
Another asset that Mixer has above other would-be Twitch competitors is the fact that it is owned by Microsoft. That’s a lot of brand and financial strength behind it. Microsoft has the infrastructure and the ecosystem to help Mixer exponentially grow. Let’s not forget what happened to Netscape when Microsoft decided to create its own web browser; Netscape who?
In the past month, Mixer was made a native app on every Xbox One, through a new update that Microsoft pushed out. This not only means that anyone can instantly start streaming from their Xbox through the app, they can also watch other Mixer streamers without having to download anything at all. This will open up a whole new market of stream viewers as people who have never watched a live stream get curious and start meandering over to the new icon on their console. At any given time, there are at least 1 million X Box’s online, that’s 1 million potential new viewers Mixer just added – that’s the power of Microsoft ownership.
“The reason I moved over to Mixer was the opportunity to grow under the Microsoft ecosystem. I have been with Xbox live for over 15 years and with Mixer and the Microsoft integration, my channel growth has been very strong”
— DzLive, streamer, LVLUP Dojo Member
Even more impressive however is the Windows “Creator” update. The new Windows update places Mixer as a native app on an estimated 50 million PC’s around the world. I believe that a lot of LVLUP Dojo’s members are moving over to Mixer in part due to the huge spike in traffic everyone is expecting it to see. Twitch streamers who have spent years on the platform whisper of a time when Twitch experienced a huge surge in traffic and resulted in several streamers catapulting from medium-sized audiences to larger than life. I think a lot of the attraction that Mixer has right now is the idea that the wave might be approaching for Mixer. A downside to the surge in traffic is that it doesn’t seem like Mixer was fully ready to handle the new wave of users. The system has been a little unstable lately, and it doesn’t seem like the phone app has really reached its fruition, halting a lot of potential mobile users from viewing streams on the platform.
Besides the interactivity, less latency, and the trend in traffic increasing, our members are also switching over to Mixer due to it being a smaller pond. On one hand, you can look at Twitch’s 500 million hits a month as a larger market, ripe for the taking for new streamers. On the other hand, you can also look at the 2 million active broadcasters on Twitch, and see it as a saturated market place where there isn’t much room for growth. I don’t think there’s a right or wrong answer here. Everyone has a certain style, certain platforms respond better to different streaming personalities, and there are many other variables that go into determining which streaming platform is best for you. For example, Steam games seem to be doing pretty well on Mixer in the channel ranks (looking at concurrent viewers for each game), however League of Legends (typically the largest channel on Twitch) is nearly non-existent on Mixer.
“I’m literally the only constant fighting game player on Mixer, so an entire genre of games was open for me being about the only person streaming them. Simply put, Mixer has too much potential to ignore.” — Lucid
Another benefit to Mixer being a smaller pond, is the community that’s come up around it. Many of our users have found that other Mixer streamers are more open and welcoming than other streamers they’ve come into contact with on Twitch. Perhaps it’s because of how young the platform is, but our users have found a lot of support from the already established streamers on Mixer.
“The Mixer community is super supportive of new streamers. On my first night of streaming I was hosted by LenaAxios for over 100 viewers! Not only did I gain followers from the host, I gained regular viewers who still come back to my stream. Another partnered Mixer streamer, Archonaut, hosted me as well. He’s now a regular in my streams, and shouts me out on his streams quite frequently. All in all, the community on Mixer has been amazing in the short time I’ve spent on the site.” -TheAltGamer, streamer, LVLUP Dojo Member
TheAltGamer, a variety streamer and Dojo Member, has seen huge success in his short time on Mixer. He’s only been using the platform for a little less than a month and has attained over 600 followers- more than he reached on Twitch in years.
Only time will tell who ends up winning the battle to be the #1 streaming platform, for now Twitch is still the leader by a landslide. From a user’s perspective, competition is good because it drives the platforms to improve to compete for streamers. LVLUP Dojo is a Twitch partner, and we definitely won’t be leaving the platform anytime soon. Twitch has gotten its place in the market by being the best in its class, there’s no denying that. However, it might be possible that Mixer could give them a run for their money by changing the elements of the class itself?