Ninja, the world’s most well-known Fortnite streamer, is returning to Amazon’s Twitch platform with an exclusive multi-year deal. His team told CNN Business that he explored “all options” before settling on Twitch.
Tyler “Ninja” Blevins is a rock star in the gaming world. He says he earned close to $10 million in 2018. He currently has 15 million Twitch followers, as well as sponsorship deals with Adidas and Red Bull.
Last summer, Ninja shook up the game streaming industry when he took an exclusive deal with Microsoft’s Mixer for an estimated $20 million to $30 million.
Microsoft acquired Mixer, formerly called Beam, in 2016. Despite its strong position in the video console market with Xbox, Microsoft and Mixer trailed behind Twitch in number of active users and hours watched.
Other streamers soon followed, announcing lucrative million-dollar deals with Facebook Gaming, YouTube or Mixer.
But after Mixer and Ninja signed a deal, the platform failed to attract a significant user base, and Microsoft shut it down in July. The announcement left its streamers without a home.
Ninja briefly moved over to YouTube, fueling speculation among his followers about where he would ultimately end up.
Amazon’s Twitch, the king of livestreaming in terms of hours watched, has been a natural choice for some of the larger streamers who had joined Mixer.
Landing Ninja is a great way for Twitch to flex its leading status in the livestreaming space, said Doron Nir, CEO of creator services provider StreamElements. But he noted that while Ninja will no longer stream live video on YouTube, his videos will still be available on demand.
Just as Ninja moving to Mixer led other streamers to do the same, a similar trend could occur this time with Twitch.
“Last quarter, Twitch reached all-time highs for hours watched, hours streamed, unique channels,” Ashray Urs, Head of Product at livestreaming software company Streamlabs, which is owned by Logitech, said in a statement. “Between Ninja’s latest move and Twitch’s prevalence as the industry leader, we expect more streamers will migrate to the platform in the coming weeks.”
Ninja returns to Twitch with his first livestream on Thursday at 3PM ET. His exclusive deal has him streaming full-time on Twitch again after over a year away.
“I really took my time to decide which platform was best and Twitch has been very supportive throughout this process and understanding my overall career goals,” he said in a press release.
Twitch’s senior vice president of content, Michael Aragon, said in a statement that the company was “thrilled” at Ninja’s return and that “he’s just getting started.”