Tech Giants Race for Streaming Deals, but Twitch Remains King

Because Twitch has been around the longest, it has developed its own culture, with inside jokes tossed around on the chat logs that accompany live streams. That community has allowed streamers, who get most of their income from subscriptions and donations, to thrive.

“The dialogue that’s happening is in a language that’s unique to Twitch,” said Mike Aragon, the senior vice president of content at the company.

Twitch encourages the sense of community, engaging with users and giving them more tools to let their language thrive. And that community spirit extends to charity; Twitch viewers donated over $40 million in 2018 through various campaigns.

At the moment, even with all the multibillion-dollar companies competing, the live-streaming market is still small.

“Twitch is a rounding error,” Michael Pachter, a research analyst for Wedbush Securities, said in an email. Amazon is not going to reveal Twitch’s revenue anytime soon, he said, but it is most likely about $250 million a quarter. Amazon did not break out the revenue of Amazon Web Services until it grew to $1.5 billion a quarter.

Streaming platforms will continue to expand their content, bringing on more traditional sports leagues and celebrities. And they might upend online video consumption entirely, the way Netflix did 12 years ago.

Mr. Covent, now one of the top streamers on Mixer, has found a new community with a ragtag culture that is willing to support him, even if it’s on a platform that is far smaller than Twitch. He has since moved to Seattle suburb, to be closer to the Microsoft ecosystem and is now a full-time streamer.

“I don’t think I’ve ‘made it,’” he said, “but I definitely think I’ve achieved some success.”