Turns out, watching people play videogames can be as fun as playing them.
That’s the takeaway the game streaming network Twitch wants you to get from its “2013 Retrospective,” released today. The big number from its victory lap: 45 million unique viewers per month in 2013, up from 20 million per month in 2012.
The retrospective also reports that Twitch, which is supported through a mixture of preroll and midroll ads and ad-free paid “Turbo” subscriptions, hosted some six million broadcasts per month (another 2x increase) and that its viewers averaged 106 minutes per day. According to an audience survey conducted in 2012, 58 percent of Twitch viewers spend more than 20 hours per week on the site.
Unlike YouTube, where videos go viral and stay online in the same form indefinitely, Twitch is much closer to live TV, with 99 percent of its visitors using it to watch live streams of games. Some broadcasters use the site to race through favorite titles as fast as possible (speedrunning), but — in another parallel with live TV — sports are a huge driver of the site’s popularity. Not sports sports, that is, but eSports, a.k.a. professional gaming.
The big stat to watch heading into 2014: How the integration of game streaming into consoles and other gaming devices changes the lay of the land (or doesn’t). A company spokesperson said via email that 20 percent of Twitch’s broadcasters between Dec. 23 and Jan. 3 streamed from the PlayStation 4.
Similar Twitch integration in the Xbox One was originally announced at E3 last June, but was delayed until after the console’s November launch, and then delayed again last week with a vague “a few more months” timeline offered up.
Twitch is owned by Justin.tv, a live video site that originally hosted gaming as well as non-gaming content until it spun off the game-focused subsidiary in mid-2011.