Mixer was a failure, but started a talent war for streamers

Mixer, Microsoft’s soon-to-be-closed streaming platform, always had a difficult road ahead. In a space already dominated by Twitch, and with YouTube using its unmatched audience scale to create its own share of the market, Microsoft’s offering was difficult to sell.

But while Mixer was ultimately a failure, as evidenced by yesterday’s news that it was shutting down, that doesn’t mean it didn’t have an important place in the fledgling broadcast world. In fact, Mixer’s great existence, and Microsoft’s great effort to make it relevant, showed some of the world’s greatest artists its true value. And the platform started a talent war that will likely continue even after Mixer no longer exists.

Mixer launched in 2016, but its big impact didn’t happen until three years later. Last August, Tyler “Ninja” Blevins, arguably the most famous video game streamer and a public image for Twitch and Fortnite – He announced that he would leave Twitch for the Microsoft platform. “I feel like I’m going to go back to the transmission roots,” Blevins said at the time. While the initial numbers were strong, Blevins was never able to surpass Mixer’s significantly smaller user base, and struggled to attract an audience comparable to Twitch.

But ultimately that didn’t matter. The fact that someone as big as Blevins could get up and leave Twitch showed that there was a demand for the talent that powers these platforms. Other streamers followed suit. Michael “Shroud” Grzesiek and Soleil “Ewok” Wheeler also went to Mixer. YouTube signed with 100 Thieves stars Jack “CouRage” Dunlop and Rachel “Valkyrae” Hofstetter, while also signing an exclusive streaming deal with controversial figure Felix “PewDiePie” Kjellberg. Jeremy “DisguisedToast” Wang jumped to Facebook. Not to be outdone, Twitch held on to some of its biggest names, including Imane “Pokimane” Anys and Guy “Dr. DisRespect” Beahm with new, likely lucrative contracts. It was a moment that disproportionately favored the biggest names in the business.

Off the pitch at the 2019 Australian Open

Rachel “Valkyrae” Hofstetter and Kathleen “Loserfruit” Belsten in 2019.
Photo by Matt King / Getty Images

Before Ninja’s departure, the world of streaming was largely opaque. There were exclusivity agreements, but most people did not know about them. That has changed. Following the move from Ninja to Mixer, following the broadcast world was similar to following NBA free agency. There were big names that moved to new places for a lot of money. Much of it is still opaque: The actual details of these contracts, such as duration and value, are still largely secret, but Mixer started a bidding war that gave talent more power and options, changing the way it is handled. they made these agreements.

We are now poised for possibly the biggest free agency frenzy in broadcast history. Suddenly, all those big names Microsoft spent millions of dollars to lure are looking for a new home. Because the landscape has changed so much, it is unclear where they will land. The obvious choice for many would be Twitch, but YouTube has also become a strong competitor. Cory “King Gothalion” Michael, who joined Mixer last October, has already announced that he is moving to Facebook.

“[Ten] Months ago, when I joined the Mixer team, my hope was to create a more robust and competitive transmission marketplace, “he said in a video announcing the move,” while mentoring transmitters at Mixer, helping them grow their brands and creating a space that we can all feel safe transmitting. My mission has not changed. “

Ninja, meanwhile, has yet to reveal his future. “I love my community and what we build together at Mixer,” he tweeted yesterday. “I have some decisions to make and I’ll be thinking about you as I make them.” Similarly, Grzesiek said, “I appreciate the Mixer community and everything I’ve been able to do on the platform. I love you guys and I’m discovering my next steps,” and Wheeler wrote that she is “excited about what the future holds for me.

The mixer was not a success. But the move from Ninja to Mixer was. He continued to develop his brand significantly, such as launching a clothing line with Adidas and becoming the first streamer to have his own brand. Fortnite skin and, more importantly, started a new era of competition in space. It was good for him, yes, but also for the industry itself. When you sign your next deal, it will be in a very different world than the one you joined Mixer last year.