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Has Fortnite peaked? Twitch viewership is declining as we head into fall blockbuster game season

1 year ago by James Mattone in Tech

As October's hottest AAA videogame releases come out, a summer blockbuster hit is seeing a ratings decline.

On the popular videogame streaming website Twitch.tv — a subsidiary of Amazon ($NASDAQ:AMZN) — Fortnite became an absolute sensation earlier this year in March. With a freemium model of play, near-daily updates, and tons of streaming personalities behind it, it was a recipe for a billion-dollar success.

However, as the usual fall season of huge video game releases begins and the holiday season looms, fewer people are tuning into Fortnite streams since its meteoric rise on Twitch.

Fortnite's streaming year in review

In March, the legend of former Halo professional player Tyler "Ninja" Blevins was forged. After his decision to switch from PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds, another "battle royale" style video game, to Fortnite months prior, one stream with Drake, Travis Scott, and JuJu Smith-Schuster gave him the most viewed stream for a single person channel Twitch history, and dawned the golden age of Fortnite.

After months of streamer personalities rushing to Fortnite and the start of the highly viewed competitive season, the game was crushing viewership. However, average concurrent viewership plateaued — and then began a steady decline — right at the start of September. It's important to note that September is the first of a four-month holiday season when top game developers release their biggest titles of the year.

And it's not just happening on school or worknights; the overall picture of concurrent Fortnite viewership on weekends (Friday to Sunday, no holidays) shows a clear trend downward since the summer.

While an average could theoretically pick up low-viewing hour outliers, looking at the top viewership hours over time also shows the beginning of Fortnite's decline. The most watched times for Fortnite were from 8 PM to 10 PM UTC, or 4-6 PM EST.

Hour Concurrent Viewership Average Viewership Minimum Viewership Maximum
8:00 PM  234,960.90  20,942  783,981
9:00 PM  234,186.47  20,128  788,959
10:00 PM  227,185.33  25,559  870,159
7:00 PM  220,215.32  20,581  641,130
11:00 PM  211,166.04  34,384  978,621
12:00 AM  205,563.28  34,930  1,483,345
6:00 PM  203,500.46  21,204  660,077
2:00 AM  194,081.93  26,747  474,458
1:00 AM  190,841.38  26,017  1,276,918

When looking at the most-popular timeslots for Fortnite, viewership trends mirrored that of average concurrent viewers for the entire day.

And similarly, the trend is about the same for weekend viewership.

Clearly, Fortnite streams at its peak hour are declining in views, rarely spiking above 500k viewers as of the past two months.

This is not due to an overall decline in Twitch viewership: Overall Twitch traffic has steadily increased over time with few major peaks (the most recent one being the end of The International Dota 2 Championships) in between.

A similar trend emerges for the other times within the top-three most viewed hours of the day:

We can conclude (for now) that Fortnite viewership is starting to decline on Twitch, although content creators are still defaulting to streaming it on their channels

Channels are still streaming

When looking at the peak times for the number of Twitch channels streaming Fortnite, it seems that content creators are trying to ride the rush of the primetime boom and catch departing viewers on the way out of major streams.

Hour Channel Count Average Channel Count Minimum Channel Count Maximum
1:00 AM  12,721.37 2396 19091
12:00 AM  12,645.59 1407 18994
2:00 AM  12,547.88 2319 19293
9:00 PM  12,330.20 442 19864
11:00 PM  12,321.13 1726 18052
10:00 PM  12,311.27 454 18879
8:00 PM  11,982.03 457 20098
3:00 AM  11,762.51 1140 18889
7:00 PM  11,269.26 465 19513
4:00 AM  10,641.93 804 17435

On weekends at 1:00 AM UTC (9:00 PM EST), there hasn't been a significant drop in channels streaming Fortnite since the beginning of the year.

Still, the recent weekend shows a slight drop, which could indicate the begining of content creators realizing a dwindling audience.

As Fortnite inches closer to its physical media release in November to cash in on the holidays, recent viewership numbers do show a sign for concern. Of course, this may not matter; even if the game's popularity plateaus in revenue, it's still on pace to make $2 billion this year for Epic, a company now valued at $8 billion thanks to Fortnite's success.

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James Mattone

James is the Associate Editor at Thinknum Media, mainly covering video games, food, and tech news, but not afraid to head into Sephora or beauty brands if need be...

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