Tyler ‘Ninja’ Blevins is well-known, to put it lightly, but his streaming plans are not. In an interview on July 31, the gaming superstar and his wife, Jessica, revealed that quitting entirely was a consideration at the peak of his frustration with Mixer.
On Twitch, Ninja’s biggest stream ever, a Fortnite quad with Drake, Travis Scott, and the NFL’s JuJu Smith-Schuster, reached 4.4 million people and, at its peak, hit 616,693 concurrent viewers.
On Mixer, his biggest stream ever reached 2.2 million viewers and hit a 85,876 concurrent viewership high point. He may have known the dip was coming, but that doesn’t change how it felt. “It was expected...and frustrating," he said.
— B/R Gaming (@BRGaming) March 15, 2019
Ninja moved from Twitch to Mixer in 2019 and is now a free agent as Microsoft’s streaming platform surprisingly shut down in June 2020. Although Mixer experienced a 149 percent increase in total hours watched from 2018 to 2019, impressive relative to Twitch’s 20 percent increase, that improvement still couldn’t break the streaming scene open.
While the jump, bolstered by Ninja and shroud signing exclusivity deals, netted Mixer 354 million total hours watched in 2019, Twitch still reigned supreme at 9.3 billion. With such a stark contrast in audience, Jessica revealed that she reminded her husband that he could stop streaming entirely if he wanted. “We can stop this life," she said.
Although certainly frustrated, he didn’t relent. Citing belief in the platform and a desire for it to succeed, he remained dedicated to his stream and appears to have grown from the somewhat humbling experience.
Speculations over his next deal are aided in part by the context of deliberations over his Mixer switch. While many believed that the contract money, which has since been revealed to be about $30 million, was the defining factor—Ninja’s camp is adamant that it was only part of the equation.
In the interview, he explained that Twitch had made “a very nice offer” as well, but that Mixer was more intriguing given its capacity for higher-quality video and flexibility in non-gaming pursuits. Additionally, his wife explained that part of his decision to leave Twitch was spurred by plateaued growth on the platform and a failure to “listen to us” amidst negotiations.
— Ninja (@Ninja) July 8, 2020
Now, he asserts that he is “a lot more comfortable and relaxed” because his brand survived the frustrations of a viewership downturn and, more recently, the absence of streaming at all. As for his next deal, a YouTube stream spurred some rumors, but the gaming icon has remained noncommittal.
What’s clear, though, is that he wants a deal with technological streaming capacity, but balanced by the flexibility to pursue non-streaming content and partnerships, including in Hollywood.