Some suspicious viewer behavior appeared on Twitch during the Red Bull Conquest fighting game tournament.
As pointed out by esports reporter Rod 'Slasher' Breslau, Red Bull’s Tekken stream rocketed from 6,000 viewers to over 50,000 in less than a half hour.
He claims the jump can be explained by ‘viewbotting’ or other manipulation methods - like paying websites to embed streams - that companies can use to pad their numbers on Twitch.
None of these shenanigans today as CJ Truth's win over Tokido in the SFV finals had ~20k viewers. I've received messages on this and it may not necessarily be traditional 'viewbotting', but it is still artificially inflating views - and Twitch knows, doesn't think it's wrong.— Rod Breslau (@Slasher) November 18, 2018
Although it is possible that 46,000 people suddenly remembered the Tekken tournament was on, it seems unlikely the viewership spike was entirely legitimate.
Twitch has a history of turning a blind eye to problems on their platform, like artificial numbers or even illegal streams of paid events.
Richard Lewis chimed in to say that not only are they allowing the viewer numbers to be messed with, they may be involved in websites that provide the services.
Embeds for views has been a service for a long time that even sites Twitch own offer. They obviously can't condemn it.— Richard Lewis (@RLewisReports) November 18, 2018
With padded numbers seemingly commonplace, Slasher wondered how many games and streamers have benefited from the questionable activity.
Considering the way this was (supposedly) done, I have to wonder how many games, esports events, and individual streamers have been propped up in the last year by this 'service'. It all falls on Twitch more than anything.— Rod Breslau (@Slasher) November 18, 2018
xQc has also raised doubts about Twitch in the past, questioning the amount of viewers watching TSM while promoting a new game.
There have been skeptics about the viewership numbers of esports events for some time now, with some countries like China producing millions more viewers than anticipated.