For the most part, Microsoft has struggled to make its Mixer game streaming service compete with market leader Twitch. Redmond has tried feature releases to reach parity with its rival, but Twitch’s userbase remains higher. A new tactic has seen Microsoft poach major streamers and place them on exclusive contracts with Mixer.
Following signing an exclusive deal with Ninja, the world’s biggest streamer, Mixer has also tabbed Ewok. The 14-year-old Fortnite streamer announced on her Twitter that she is joining Microsoft. Highlighting why Microsoft’s tactic may work, her Mixer account had 10,000 followers within hours.
Back in August, Microsoft and Ninja announced a collaboration. It has been widely reported that Microsoft shelled out millions (maybe tens of millions) of dollars to acquire Ninja. What’s unclear since then is the influence that move had.
Following Ninja’s switch, Shroud and KingGothalion jumped from Twitch to Mixer. Both claimed the possibility of working with Microsoft to build the platform was enticing to them. However, it is not clear if Microsoft had to pay those streamers to leave or whether the influence of Ninja drove the decision.
— FaZe Ewok (@Ewok) November 14, 2019
Microsoft clearly hopes Ninja’s position as an influencer will persuade other streamers to abandon Twitch. Still, it is likely the company has had to pay these streamers, if only to tie them to exclusivity.
Money Well Spent
Last month I reported on industry analysts who believe Microsoft paid big to get Ninja on board.
“It’s so disproportionate when it comes to spending and the amount of audience someone like Tyler Blevins attracts,” Neilsen head of games Joost van Dreunen told Business Insider in a recent phone interview. “There’s absolutely no way say, ‘Oh [Microsoft] paid 10 or 20 million. It could be either of those.”
While that’s a major outlay for one content creator, experts believe major streamers could drive revenue of hundreds of millions for Microsoft.
“The value that someone like that creates can run it up to hundreds of millions, if not billions,” Van Dreunen said.