This article will walk you through the basics of esports streaming, including the most popular esports streaming services, where the live stream industry stands today, what esports games you can watch, and how you can make money betting on esports streaming sites.

What is Esports Streaming?

Esports streaming is the act of broadcasting esports matches while they’re happening live. This also applies to streamers who live stream their gaming sessions.

The ‘only’ things you need to start your esports streaming career are a powerful PC configuration, plenty of time, and a live-streaming platform that fits your needs.

Esports Streaming platforms and esports streaming sites

First, it is important to understand what sites fall under the “esports streaming” category. Right now, these are the six biggest esports streaming platforms:

Twitch

Originally released in 2006 as Justin.tv, Twitch has grown into the biggest and most popular streaming platform of them all. Twitch currently averages over 2.5 million average concurrent users and each of the top 5 highest-grossing streamers made more than $1,000,000 in 2022 – xQc led the way with more than $8.4 million earned.

At its start, Justin.tv featured only one live streamer, the co-founder and CEO, Justin Kan. Kan would attach a GoPro to his forehead and livestream his entire day. Eventually, people enjoyed his content and began creating their own. Justin.tv was rebranded to Twitch.tv on June 6, 2011. It was later sold to Amazon for $1 Billion in August 2016.

Twitch has achieved mainstream streaming appeal, meaning it is more similar to Instagram Live than any of the other platforms mentioned. In fact, the most popular category on Twitch is Just Chatting, a section for talking, reacting to videos, etc.

Twitch’s Rise in Popularity

Twitch became popular around the same time as Fortnite – this is no coincidence. Fortnite is fun to watch, and quickly became the most popular game on the site. This initial jump due to Fortnite gave Twitch more mainstream appeal than its competitors (also due to Fortnite’s mainstream appeal).

In 2020, Twitch saw another big jump in viewership due to lockdowns and the pandemic. Today, the site has an average viewership of more than 2.4 million viewers, compared to about 750,000 in 2017.

2022 was another excellent year for streamers; it had more than 90,000 concurrent streams, more than 1,200,000 unique daily streamers, and more than 60,000,000 hours watched daily.

YouTube

Everyone knows about YouTube, but not everyone knows that YouTube also offers livestream content in addition to their traditional library of videos. YouTube added live streaming to their platform in 2011, giving some of their most popular content creators special access to the feature for good.

In 2013, YouTube allowed all partnered creators with over 1,000 subscribers to stream live, and in 2016 they released live streaming to all users on their platform.

Surprisingly, YouTube has been doing better when it comes to live-streaming esports tournaments and esports games. According to Stream Hatchet, YouTube had a peak audience of 3.2 Million in Q4’22 while Twitch had 5.4 Million. However, YouTube is still lagging behind Twitch when it comes to Average Audience numbers – around 500,000.

YouTube, being a short-form media site for so long, attracts a different audience than Twitch, whose main attraction is live streaming. Generally, more casual games are more popular on YouTube, and more competitive ones on Twitch. Minecraft, for example, is far more popular on YouTube than on Twitch.

This is because competitive games and esports streamers are more interesting to watch when they are live, just like sports. Traditional, planned content often requires time to practice, build, and edit before being published. It alludes that since YouTube has been a home for traditional, short-form content, most of their live stream viewership would be on these titles as well.

However, YouTube is also the go-to streaming platform for mobile esports streams, such as Mobile Legends, PUBG Mobile, and Call of Duty: Mobile which also explains YouTube’s rise in popularity since mobile games have become massively popular.

So, if you want to watch esports teams compete in mobile game esports tournaments, YouTube is the perfect place to do it.

Facebook Gaming

Facebook Gaming is significantly smaller than either of the platforms above, as the social media company is the most recent addition to the live-streaming industry. Starting less than three years ago in April 2020, Facebook Gaming and their live streaming app accounted for about 7.9% of all live streaming hours during the second quarter of 2022.

Facebook Gaming has kickstarted their live streaming platform by paying well-known streamers to stream on their platform and by taking far lower percentage fees and advertising revenue from their creators.

Facebook Gaming Charges the Least By Far

They take 30% of both the ad revenue and the member fees, but take none of the stars ( YT currency used for donations) earned by streamers. Instead, they require the viewer to pay extra for the stars, at a cost of about 14%.

YouTube Gaming charges partners slightly lower rates on ad revenue – 45% down to 30% and takes 30% of all Superchats. This feature allows users to ping a specific comment, making it more likely for the streamer to notice it.

Twitch takes the most of all the streaming services. They take 50% of all subscription fees, 30% of all bits (used for donations), and over 90% of all ad revenue. Twitch is able to do this because they have so much market share. If you are a streamer and want to get discovered, you go to Twitch.

AfreecaTV

AfreecaTV is a Korean-owned video streaming service that’s highly popular in South Korea. People from most countries don’t use AfreecaTV since the streaming platform is only available in Korean and English. And most fans who live outside of South Korea will choose to watch YouTube or Twitch streams.

Nonetheless, AfreecaTV has been hovering around 3rd and 4th place when it comes to audience numbers, sometimes slightly in front of Facebook Gaming and sometimes slightly behind it.

AfreecaTV is an excellent streaming platform since it has some very useful features, including accessing VODs, watching Starred (your favourite) streams, and choosing the ‘Esports’ category which makes the site display only esports events.

AfreecaTV also has a presence in esports in the form of Kwangdong Freecs; a professional League of Legends organization that competes in the LCK and is sponsored and owned by AfreecaTV.

Nonolive

Nonolive is a popular esports streaming platform whose biggest popularity share comes from fans who are interested in watching mobile gaming streams. The site is accessible to everyone, and the stream categories are virtually endless. You can watch everything from Minecraft streams to just chatting with the streamer.

In most regards, it’s similar to Twitch but with a much smaller market share and viewership numbers. Only around 100,000-200,000 viewers in Q4’22.

Nonetheless, it’s evident that some people want to break the status quo that Twitch established in the streaming market and Nonolive has been making rounds in recent times. Time will tell if they can shake things up at the top.

Trovo

Trovo is owned by Tencent, the Chinese company that also owns PUBG and a load of other IPs. This platform is the most similar to Twitch out of all the others we mentioned, primarily due to their Paid Subscription system.

However, they haven’t quite made a splash in the market and have only around 15,000 average daily viewers, with their peak viewership numbers hovering around 200,000. This is much lower than what we’ve seen at other live streaming services and platforms.

Surprisingly, the biggest events you can watch on Trovo are related to League of Legends, primarily the LPL. But most people prefer Twitch or the official LoL Esports website so it isn’t surprising to see that Trovo doesn’t have as high viewership numbers as the rest.

Chinese Streaming Sites

Above are the sites that are most popular in the U.S and Europe, but there are a few other popular streaming sites for those located in Asia.

Huya

Huya is the most popular streaming service in China, and here is what they say on their investor relations page about where the company is heading:

“We cooperate with e-sports event organizers, as well as major game developers and publishers, and have developed e-sports live streaming as one of the most popular content genres on our platform. Building on our success in game live streaming, we have also extended our content to other entertainment genres, such as talent shows, anime and outdoor activities.”

Douyu 

Douyu focuses more on mobile content than Huya but is very similar to the aforementioned site. Here is an excerpt from their investor relations page explaining their take on the site:

“By providing a sustainable streamer development system built on advanced technology infrastructure and capabilities, DouYu helps ensure a consistent supply of quality content. Through collaborations with a variety of participants across the eSports value chain, the Company has gained coveted access to a wide variety of premium eSports content, which further attracts viewers and enhances user experience.”

Billibbi

Yet another Chinese streaming site, Bilibili rounds off the final site of the big three streaming sites in China. They introduce the platform on their investor relations page by saying:

“Bilibili represents the iconic brand of online entertainment with a mission to enrich the everyday life of the young generations in China. With our website first launched in June 2009 and officially named ‘‘bilibili’’ in January 2010, we have evolved from a content community inspired by anime, comics and games (ACG) into a full-spectrum online entertainment world covering a wide array of genres and media formats, including videos, live broadcasting and mobile games.”

How to Start Esports Streaming

If you want to start streaming but don’t know where to start, you’ve come to the right place. While this guide will help you get started, it won’t be enough on its own to help you reach the top. That is something you’ll have to do on your own once you get enough experience streaming your favourite games.

Esports Streaming Hardware

If you want to live stream your gameplay on sites such as Twitch or YouTube, you will need the proper esports streaming hardware, such as a computer or phone that is able to handle a little more work than it requires to simply play the game. Oftentimes, streamers will have two computers, one for playing the game and another for handling the live stream. If you are just starting to live stream, you will be able to manage with just one!

If you want to use a separate device to record your gameplay from a console (or even PC) you can use a capture card to record your gameplay. The most common types of capture cards are from Elgato. Both devices capture your gameplay and can upload it seamlessly to a computer so that you can stream.

In addition to your computer, you will need the peripheral hardware required to play games, if that is what you have in mind. This means that you need a mouse and keyboard or a controller, but not necessarily both.

In order for your viewers to be able to see and hear you, you will need to buy a microphone and a webcam. It is possible that your phone or PC has its own webcam, but most streamers prefer their own so that they can have a better picture and control over what is shown in their streaming room, etc.

Streaming Room

If you are really interested in starting to live stream, you have probably thought about where you plan to do your live streaming. Many popular streamers, such as xQc and timthetatman, have their own, custom design rooms specifically built for them to stream in. 100 Thieves, the esports/apparel startup located in Los Angeles have streaming booths built into their $30M headquarters. These booths give gamers all the needed hardware and software needed to stream.

If you do plan to build an entire stream room, there are some extra assets that you should add to your setup.

Additional Streaming Gear

The esports streaming gear list above are the core requirements you need to start streaming. If you want to make your stream even better, try some of these ideas:

  • Portable Green Screen – Investing in a portable green screen will allow you to free up more space for your gameplay or put cool effects behind you. Many popular streamers use green screens and paste their webcam footage over some sort of overlay.
  • Stream Decks – Allow you to have next-level control over your stream, such as changing scenes to avoid stream-snipers, or alternating between multiple different camera angles.
  • Stay Hydrated – You may also want to invest in a portable refrigerator to store water and other drinks for you during your stream. It is easy to get dehydrated while gaming and many streamers have beverage fridges in their streaming rooms. Ninja, for example, has a Red Bull mini-fridge in his streaming room.

On top of that, using quality mouse pads can drastically improve your overall gaming experience while streaming. It might also be useful to invest in a stress ball that you’d pick up and squeeze if the game gets difficult or you get too stressed.

Esports Streaming Software

Now that you have all of your hardware, what types of programs do you need to run in order to actually be able to start streaming?

You will need to download a program called Streamlabs. This program allows you to connect to your Twitch (or another service’s) account and immediately begin live streaming to an audience. On Streamlabs, you will be able to update your stream title, which games you are playing, and all of the other details you often see in other streamers’ setups.

You will also receive detailed reports of your streams from Streamlabs, allowing you to track your progress as you grow and derive insights from your viewer trends. There are many substitute services for Streamlabs, but it is the most well-known live-streaming software on the market!

Esports Stream Overlay

If you have ever tuned in to a Twitch stream in the past, you likely noticed a bunch of small pop-ups on the stream. These pop-ups are called overlays. Overlays can be added via Streamlabs and allow you to broadcast specific information on your stream. This information can be pertinent to your community or the entire world.

Overlays generally track your followers, subscribers, and past donations. More experienced streamers use overlays for other reasons, but this is a good place to start for a beginner.

You can build your own overlays, or you can have someone else make them for you. There is an entire economy for overlays, banners, and other custom stream-related content. Fiverr is the best-known website for sourcing high-quality overlays and stream materials.

How to Set Up & Stream a Gaming Tournament?

If you want to stream a gaming tournament, there are three steps you need to follow:

  1. Find a game and get permission from the developer to run a tournament. It is very important to make sure you have permission from the game’s developers before running or even announcing your event.
  2. Set a prize pool, date and time, rules, and make the tournament announcement on social media and on pages such as toornament.com or challonge.com.
  3. Begin recruiting players and maybe even start a Discord Server for your event so you can keep it organized. Discord is the best way to communicate with your players as an event organizer, so this is a great way to raise awareness for your event and to make sure all of your players are on the same page.

Esports Streaming Revenue

There are lots of ways to make money from streaming, some of which come directly from the site you are streaming from and others that come from outside sources. Here is a list of the ways you can make money live-streaming esports:

Twitch used to take a very high 90% of all ad revenue that streamers receive but due to market competitiveness and YouTube’s rise as an esports streaming service, they’ve moved to a different model. Nowadays, Twitch receives 55% of all ad revenue. Mind you, this is still more than what YouTube (30%-50%) and other platforms take but it’s still better than before. This means that streamers will keep 45% of their ad revenue, compared to just 10% before.

Subscription Fees

If you really like a specific streamer on Twitch, you can “subscribe” to them for a month (or more) for ad-free viewing and exclusive access to special emotes in the stream chat. These subscriptions auto-renew at the end of the month, and generally begin at $5. The same feature exists on YouTube, however, they are referred to as “members”.

Donations

Once you have logged enough hours, you will qualify for earning donations. Donations can be received in cash, bits, stars, and even crypto. Bits and stars are Twitch’s and YouTube’s own currency for donating to streamers.

Donations are often small, but in some cases can be huge! Mr. Beast rose to fame quickly on YouTube after releasing a series of videos of him donating more than $50,000 to Twitch streamers, some of which had no viewers!

Sponsorships

If you are really gaining traction, you might even attract a few companies or brands to sponsor your stream. Oftentimes, these brands will want to run some sort of overlay on your stream to promote their product or service.

Some of the most popular sponsors nowadays are Red Bull, Chipotle, Kia, Razer, and many others. Sponsorships are a great way of earning a relatively passive income, but you do need to grow in popularity in order to approach or be approached by a sponsor.

Top Esports Streamers By Platform

PlatformsChannelsFollowers (Millions)
TwitchNinja
Auronplay
Rubius
Ibai
xQc
18.4
14.5
13.4
12.3
11.5
YouTubeTimTheTatman
Dr.Disrespect
Ludwig
4.82
4.26
4.00
Facebook GamingMaherco Gaming
Zelika
StoneMountain64
4.0
3.7
3.4

Esports Betting Sites that Offer Esports Streaming & Betting

The ability to bet on live streams has only been available for a few years, rising in popularity soon after the Fortnite boom and Twitch’s exponential growth because of it. Many sites offer the ability to bet on streamers while they play their favorite games.

Here is the best site for watching esports streamers:

GG.BET

GG.BET is a popular betting site that allows you to watch your favorite streamers. Currently, they only offer live streamer betting on Fortnite, but have offered streamer betting for other titles in the past.

Currently, Fortnite betting is the most popular game for streamer betting as it is the most mainstream gaming title and is lots of fun to bet on and watch at the same time!

This site also offers the ability to watch games live and does so in the same way as the sites mentioned above. Twitch encourages this and has their own API to help third-party sites integrate their content in a natural format.

Betway

Betway has a great esports betting app and also lets you watch all of your favorite matches live on their website. It even shows a little “live” reminder next to each title if there is a match currently going on. This is true for both esports and traditional sports. Note that Betway is a good place to watch tournament streams in French.

Galaxy.bet

Galaxy.bet has a similar setup to Betway but has a tab exclusively for live sports and esports. They also simply embed the league’s Twitch stream into their website.

Given that all of these betting websites live stream the matches from Twitch, they all should have about the same game feeds as one another. They are simply rebroadcasting the official CS:GO stream of the particular league on their own websites.

Summary

Esports streams are the only way that esports fans can watch their favourite teams compete against each other in the most prestigious esports tournaments. Less than a decade ago, streaming esports tournaments and games exploded more than anyone could have ever imagined.

Today, the market features a healthy share of live-streaming platforms that fans can choose from. We’re lucky to live in an age where we can simply tune into any moment of any match in any tournament and just watch the action.


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FAQ

Esports Streams FAQ

Devin Nash, former head of Counter Logic Gaming and YouTuber, released a video on exactly this topic. Unsurprisingly, Facebook Gaming pays the most and Twitch the least because Twitch dominates the market and can afford to pay its streamers less.

According to Twitchtracker.com, there are about 185,000 streamers currently on Twitch. Given Twitch’s market share, I would estimate that there are between 250,000 and 500,000 streamers in the United States and more than 2,000,000 in the world, many of which are based outside of the US.

The record for most concurrent viewers on a Twitch stream is held by CazéTV; a channel that broadcasted the World Cup Quarterfinals. They amassed an incredible 6.1 million viewers.

Top esports & gaming streamers can easily make over $5,000,000 per year. According to some experts, this number can be as high as $20,000,000 or more when you take into account all the donations, sponsorships, ad revenue, and other revenue-making methods.

This depends on the person, but most creators spend about five or so years perfecting their craft before becoming popular on the platform. Many streamers have even admitted to quitting streaming or coming very close before becoming big on the platform.

Through our in-depth guides and reviews, we are focused on providing the best insights into esports betting.

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