Twitch and YouTube coverage of the 2020 US election nearly beat out the coverage by traditional media. U.S. election Twitch coverage, in particular, saw impressive gains with notable streamers HasanAbi, xQc, Trainwreckstv, and Ludwig getting massive views on streams focused on the Trump vs. Biden election.
Elections in the United States have been particularly contentious this year, owing in part to heated political dialogue and the logistical challenges of mail-in voting. Media coverage has been more intense than ever, but there was a bit of a surprise for traditional media — nearly half of online viewers got their 2020 election coverage from non-traditional sources such as Twitch and YouTube streams.
How US election Twitch streams succeeded (and failed)
A report from data analytics company Stream Hatcher has revealed that more than 50 million hours of US election Twitch and YouTube coverage were watched by users on November 3, 2020. 53% of the election coverage viewers were on mainstream media sources, but they were very nearly beat out by non-traditional sources taking up 47% of the views.
Live streaming platforms @Twitch and @YouTube brought in over 50M hours watched of election day coverage yesterday!@NBCNews led all channels with 21.4% of the market share while @hasanthehun led influencers with 4.7%.#Elections2020 pic.twitter.com/jtcx0noTIb
— Stream Hatchet (@StreamHatchet) November 4, 2020
Twitch streamer HasanAbi — who often focuses on political and social discussions — took the lion’s share of viewership on Twitch with 4.7% of overall coverage. YouTube, meanwhile, saw the conservative talk show Louder with Crowder taking 5.8% of the views. HasanAbi, in particular, has seen his average viewers jump from 23,000 to 93,000 in the last few days (via Twitch Tracker).
Politics intermixing with video games and Twitch isn’t necessarily new; last month, AOC pulled in big numbers by streaming Among Us on Twitch. In a similar vein, the Biden/Harris campaign explored an unusual avenue of political advertising in Animal Crossing. Even Minecraft’s original developer Notch got in on the action by deleting his Twitter (albeit temporarily) in exchange for a YouTube content creator to stop discussing politics on a gaming channel.
US election coverage is further reflected in some recent Just Chatting videos, a “talk show” category on Twitch which has had sustained growth over the last year. Popular Twitch streamers such as xQc, Trainwreckstv, and Ludwig dedicated some or all of their recent streams to the political events in the United States, although many of the most popular recent streams intermixed playing games and other topics of discussion.
The growth of election coverage on Twitch and YouTube has certainly been impressive, but there are some things that it can’t do. Most of these streams relied on data gathered by traditional media sources and analysts; it will likely be a long time before Twitch streamers and YouTubers truly replace traditional media broadcasts. However, this is still a huge pivot towards non-traditional media, with many viewers replacing traditional news outlets with Twitch streamers, YouTube creators, and more, signifying a seismic change in how younger voters consume political content.