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Economy of Scale: The Top Streamers and Their (Insanely High) Projected Revenues

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Jul

Economy of Scale: The Top Streamers and Their (Insanely High) Projected Revenues

Monday, July 1, 2019

Ever since I started working in esports, people always ask me about how someone actually makes any money in the world of video games. 


It’s the same stuff you hear all the time. 


“Twitch is Free! How can anyone earn money spending 8 hours a day streaming for nothing?”


“Gaming isn’t a career, it’s just a hobby.”


“No one will pay for such a simple skill.”


With no sign of esports slowing down any time soon, it becomes extremely important to recognize how important esports will be going on in the future. Recently, I wrote an article where I talk about the huge projected revenue and viewership of esports this year. 


And at the front of the pack, leading the charge into the future, are the streamers. 


If you’re interested in joining the legion of streamers and gamers who are earning money for themselves, sign up for Boosted. Boosted’s devoted staff specializes in transforming your gaming career into a profitable business. We’ll assist you with anything from marketing on Twitch to streaming sponsorships and ecommerce. With Boosted’s support, you’ll not only be a gamer, but also a business pro. 


Streaming Culture

Tyler "Ninja" Blevins with headset and mic on a stream.
Tyler "Ninja" Blevins on a stream at TwitchCon. Streamers are the key to why esports interest has skyrocketed lately. Photo Courtesy of Robert Reiners/Getty Images


The streamers represent the backbone of the entire industry. They proved that “people like watching other people play video games”, and without that discovery, the massive leagues and tournaments of this era would never have existed. 


Streamers are finally getting recognized for their contributions to the world of esports by capitalizing on new trends.


Streaming is not new to the world of gaming. It has been around ever since kids were videotaping themselves playing a game and posting it online. And it’s not like live-streaming has changed dramatically since its beginnings, other than some technical upgrades. 


So what has changed that has shifted this entire landscape? 


The birth and development of the Career Streamer. 


Here I define a Career Streamer as someone who not only spends a majority of their time streaming themselves gaming on Twitch, but something more. 


They treat their stream as it should be treated, its own small entertainment company, and they run it as such. Streamers now market themselves more effectively, displaying an ability to influence consumers like other celebrities. 


Streamers build a recognizable and powerful brand and use that brand to build big followings. Those big followings form their own revenue stream through a subscription model that allows fans more access to the stream.


Then they use that large, devoted fanbase to convince advertisers to place ads on their streams, earning advertising revenue. 


Finally they can add to both of those revenue streams with sponsorship opportunities, further increasing their control over finances. 


Streamers have gotten better at the business behind streaming, and if you are really good at both the front and back end of streaming, it can earn you a ton of money. These are the prime examples. 


Streamers Projected Annual Revenue 

(Methodology Below)


These are the Top 10 most Popular Streamers (By Active Subscriber Count) (As of June 2019):


-Shroud

-Tfue

-NickMercs

-MoonMoon_OW

-TimTheTatman

-XQCOW

-Ninja

-Dr Lupo

-CohhCarnage

-Admiral Bahroo

10. Admiral Bahroo:

-Subscription Revenue: $652,199.69 (10th)


-Ad Revenue: $51,448.80 (9th)


-Bits Revenue: $39,115.80 (7th)


-Sponsorship Revenue(Estimate): $600,000


Total: $2,137,591.12 (10th Overall in Top 10) 

Depending on when you look at the subscriber count leaderboards, this spot can be inhabited by a number of different high profile streamers. However, at the current moment, Admiral Bahroo occupies this spot. Bahroo is a true variety streamer, often playing games no one else is playing and doing an excellent job of carving out his own niche in the twitch universe. Bahroo has earned his sport on this leaderboard and will look to maintain it as time moves forward.


9. CohhCarnage:

-Subscription Revenue: $708,492.04 (9th)


-Ad Revenue: $56,896.32 (8th)


-Bits Revenue: $47,479.56 (5th)


-Sponsorship Revenue(Estimate): $600,000


Total: $2,137,591.12 (9th Overall in Top 10) 

Ben “CohhCarnage” Cassell is not typical as a streamer, by any means. When Cassell first started streaming, back in 2013, he was rather unsuccessful. People were not responding to the character he was playing and so he had to switch things up. He decided that he was going to be himself, and then stream every day, in a streak that eventually turned into 2,000 straight days. Cassell is a variety streamer, meaning he does not have one game that he plays exclusively, which forces him to treat every stream differently. But his fans have stuck by him, even as he took his first day off in five years back in April. 


8. Dr Lupo:

-Subscription Revenue: $732,826.33 (8th)


-Ad Revenue: $47,935.68 (10th)


-Bits Revenue: $85,468.56 (1st)


-Sponsorship Revenue(Estimate): $600,000


Total: $2,137,591.12 (8th Overall in Top 10) 

Ben “DrLupo” Lupo is one of the more unique streamers out there. He has a voice that separates him from the rest of the pack, relying on his midwest drawl and calm(ish) demeanor. Lupo began his career as a content creator in Destiny where he honed his skills and then later decided to enter the Battle Royale space in games like H1Z1 and later PUBG, before moving to Fortnite when it was released. Lupo just last week broke the record for the most money donated to charity in a 4.5 hour stream, by raising over $920,000 for St. Jude’s. The charity aspect of his role is extremely important to him and it is another piece of why Lupo has such a loyal following. 


7. Ninja:

-Subscription Revenue: $834,956.56 (7th)


-Ad Revenue: $251,596.80 (2nd)


-Bits Revenue: $62,244.96 (3rd)


-Sponsorship Revenue(Estimate): $600,000


Total: $2,137,591.12 (6th Overall in Top 10) 

It is impossible to talk about streaming without talking about Tyler "Ninja" Blevins. In all honesty, the sponsorship revenue estimate created for this process was probably the most inaccurate for Ninja himself, who racks up considerably more sponsorship dollars in a given year. Ninja was a Halo 3 professional at the start of his esports career, then he moved onto PUBG, and as Fortnite began its ascent, Ninja jumped on board and was a big contributor to the game’s overall success. Ninja has taken streaming into mainstream sports culture, playing with everyone from Drake to Marshawn Lynch. He has appeared on the cover of ESPN: the Magazine and taken his popularity and turned it into a movement of Ninja fans all over the world. Ninja is the reason streaming can turn you into a celebrity, and he has figured out the business of streaming down to a T.


6. XQCOW:

-Subscription Revenue: $885,076.00 (6th)


-Ad Revenue: $106,023.84 (6th)


-Bits Revenue: $38,923.92 (8th)


-Sponsorship Revenue(Estimate): $600,000


Total: $2,137,591.12 (7th Overall in Top 10) 

Felix “XQC” Lengyel is one of the few streamers who has built his entire career and following around one game, and that game is not Fortnite. Recognized as one of the best in the Overwatch community, XQC was a professional before he moved on to streaming. Unfortunately, XQC is sometimes more well-known for his controversial statements and actions that have caused him to be suspended from The Overwatch League and general competitive play. However, XQC still sits at the top of this leaderboard, due to effective brand cultivation. 


5. TimTheTatman:

-Subscription Revenue: $1,055,667.23 (5th)


-Ad Revenue: $119,396.16 (5th)


-Bits Revenue: $40,786.08 (6th)


-Sponsorship Revenue(Estimate): $600,000


Total: $2,137,591.12 (4th Overall in Top 10) 

Timothy “TimTheTatman” Betar has been around the streaming scene since all the way back in 2012. His career has included stints in CS:GO, World Of Warcraft and Overwatch, but he has really risen to popularity in Fortnite as the game has sent Twitch’s viewership through the roof. He is known for his crazy loyal fans and exciting antics while streaming. And he enjoys connecting with his fans in the real world at everything from Fortnite events, to basketball games at Syracuse University, a program he avidly supports. 


Ninja, DrLupo and TimtheTatman posing for a picture on a rooftop bar.
(Left to Right) Ben "DrLupo" Lupo, Timothy "TimtheTatman" Betar and Tyler "Ninja" Blevins posing for a photo. These three men are Career Streamers who have turned streaming into a science. Photo Courtesy Fortnite Crypt.

4. MoonMoon_OW: 

-Subscription Revenue: $1,139,175.66 (4th)


-Ad Revenue: $62,237.76 (7th)


-Bits Revenue: $10,145.52 (10th)


-Sponsorship Revenue(Estimate): $600,000


Total: $2,137,591.12 (5th Overall in Top 10) 

MoonMoon_OW had a different path to stardom then a lot of the other streamers on this list. He got his start playing Overwatch and built up a substantial following through his interesting strategies and entertaining personality. After establishing himself on Twitch, he switched over to playing other games, like Dark Souls 3. Another interesting thing about MoonMoon is that he is extremely private. He keeps lots of information to himself, a move that can sometimes alienate fans, but in this case it has not had that effect at all. 



3. NickMercs: 

-Subscription Revenue: $1,305,583.44 (3rd)


-Ad Revenue: $159,893.76 (3rd)


-Bits Revenue: $74,297.28 (2nd)


-Sponsorship Revenue(Estimate): $600,000


Total: $2,137,591.12 (2nd Overall in Top 10) 

Nick "NickMercs" Kolcheff has a unique reputation among streamers because he is not only one of the best Fortnite players in the world, but he uses a controller in a game dominated by PC players. NickMercs has been an aggressive, big-time player since his emergence as a Gears of War pro. His personality and gamesmanship are major parts of why he is so successful, and his consistency across revenue streams is extremely impressive. 


2. Tfue: 

-Subscription Revenue: $1,342,314.37 (2nd)


-Ad Revenue: $280,350.72 (1st)


-Bits Revenue: $55,726.68 (4th)


-Sponsorship Revenue(Estimate): $600,000


Total: $2,137,591.12 (1st Overall in Top 10) 

One of the true kings of Twitch, Turner “Tfue” Tenney has long relied on his immense skill and dry sense of humor to carry him to the top of Twitch’s leaderboard every time he streams. He got his start streaming the classic game Z1 Battle Royale, and then later PUBG.  He quickly proved himself as one of the best Battle Royale players in the world by taking Fortnite by storm as it was rising in popularity. Tfue’s projected earnings are number 1 among all streamers as he prepares for the Fortnite World Cup taking place later this summer.


1. Shroud: 

-Subscription Revenue: $1,362,521.08 (1st)


-Ad Revenue: $149,079.84 (4th)


-Bits Revenue: $25,990.20 (9th)


-Sponsorship Revenue(Estimate): $600,000


Total: $2,137,591.12 (3rd Overall in Top 10) 

Perhaps not who you were expecting to see in the top spot, Michael “Shroud” Grzesiek, the Mississauga, Ontario native, has been a big name in streaming for a long time. He started off in CounterStrike Global Offensive as a professional player before transitioning to streaming in 2018. Known for his CS:GO and PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds skill, he also plays Call of Duty, Apex Legends and Rainbow Six Siege. Shroud currently sits with the highest projected revenue for subscriptions based on his extremely high subscriber count, so it makes sense that he should top this list. 


Methodology


Note: These numbers do not reflect actual fact about how much these streamers actually make. These are all projections. 


For this exercise, I conducted an updated version of the same projections that MediaKix ran in September of last year. I even used the same formula they did, with one key difference. Since the amount of money committed to sponsorship has risen in recent history, I believe that my $600,000 estimate for streaming income in a year is closer to the actual number. 


If you can game, and understand the world of streaming, then maybe your name can join this list. 


That’s how you know you’ve made it.


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