Many shake-ups are happening with several companies all over the world because of COVID-19. The Nascar industry is having virtual races among its drivers. EPSN is replaying older football, basketball, baseball games from the past or video game streaming themselves. The movie industry is in a complete halt and holding what they do have for streaming. They’re also planning for a long term shut down.
Most importantly everyone’s is stuck at home. And with everyone being home, Youtubers, Instagrammers, the Tik Tokers of the world have a captive audience to entertain a world constricted by fear. This is the time that influencers are capitalizing on because those business models that started at home can penetrate the online zeitgeist better than any other industry.
Influencers Come In All Shapes
One thing I want to clarify is who or how a person with a big following qualifies as an influencer. We often associate people with a huge number of followers as big-timers. But those numbers can be fake or bolstered by bots. I believe a true influencer is someone who’s social media following can create ripples in an industry. We see this often in make-up. Jeffrey Star is one of the biggest voices who’s ability to propel or condemn a make-up brand is frighteningly real.
The gaming industry’s influencers also follow a similar vein but can cater to different audiences. You can follow the nitty and gritty malpractices and the underbelly of game development. Through people like ex-Kotaku staffer Jason Schreier or Jim Sterling. PewDiePie, Dr. Disrespect, and other YouTubers and streamers are both trendsetters and entertainers. Even among those there are tons of smaller influencers who are big in their respective ponds. Like Pokimane, or channels that focus on only one gaming brand like Gaijinhunter in the Monster Hunter community.
More Eyeballs On Them
Having such a diverse community online in several different industries makes it hard to know who’s influence is the real deal. You could be following and enjoying the content of your favorite influencer. However, not all of them wield the same power or even cross the same circles even if they’re in the same industry. One of my favorite YouTube channels I follow is Kinda Funny who are best known for their In Review series more so than their gaming side; even though they’re made up of ex-IGN employees.
I could be a fan of them and never know about Giantbomb or even Angry Joe because different people again fall under different circles. You won’t see these because of algorithms that decide what we “should” like versus actual exploration of your YouTube feed. Even so, this pandemic is creating a new era of online streaming and content creation. Everyone is at home and the people who are benefitting the most are the social media companies and the influencers/content creators themselves.
Increase in View Times
With everyone being at home. Streaming channels and services have seen a dramatic rise in viewership numbers and certain outlets are booming with new content. More eyeballs mean that content creators will either adjust their chances for connecting with audiences at home. We have seen an increase of creators streaming more from home in between regular video submissions.
This New York Times article highlights that while more Americans are not using their phones as much during the start of the COVID-19 outbreak. Youtube and Netflix’s viewership on the sites alone dramatically increased since the first outbreak death after Feb 29. Youtube alone is scaling over 200 million concurrent viewers. So much so that they had to throttle back its video quality to keep the internet from crashing.
Twitch, among other sites, exploded with its stats of the highest reported numbers as well. The Hollywood Reporter said:
“For the first time since the platform debuted in 2012, Twitch topped three billion hours watched over the first quarter of 2020 (January-March). During the period, Twitch accounted for 65 percent of total streaming hours watched and 72 percent of total hours streamed. Topping competitors YouTube Gaming, Facebook Gaming and Microsoft’s Mixer platform.”
Everyone is stuck at home and content creators are gaining new fans at a more rapid pace. This could lead to a bigger fanbase and subscription for all content creators and influencers. Hopefully, there is some trickle-down for smaller creators who are being overshadowed by the big channels. That is if the All-mighty YouTube Algorithm is in their favor. Thus creating a new power vacuum.
Influencers are Uneffected, Unlike…
YouTubers, Instagrammers, Twitch streamers, Mixer streamers, people who Facebook live their games are enjoying what they do best online than other markets. Sports players can’t compete thus losing their ability to stay relevant during this time. Actors of both the big screen, indies, streaming, and broadway plays are all on a complete lockdown since all production is halted and movie theatre chains are shut down. Fashion designers known for their creations and expression on the run-way are losing their clout unless they turn to digital platforms.
Tons of different industries are being adversely affected because of the pandemic while other content creators are simply capitalizing on the situation. Look, this pandemic is horrible but one can’t argue that this is benefiting people whose sole business started from creating content at home. We still don’t know what the world will look like after the pandemic. Even Bloomberg is reporting that Wuhan, the epicenter of the pandemic, has already lifted most of its restrictions and people can go outside but they’re simply not going to for a while. Thus giving the “Influencer” more bargaining power as subscribers and viewership rise than ever before.
What Does It All Mean?
COVID-19 is a monster that is destroying billions of dollars in several economic circles but Youtube, Netflix, and other streaming and social media platforms are profiting like never before. The bigger Influencers get, the more money for the platform companies make in the long run but what if we see a mass exodus similar to what we saw with Ninja on Mixer? Suddenly the platform companies need to appease their top talent if those influencers become too valuable to lose.
Crack-pot theory? Does it seem unlikely? Let us know in the comments below! Don’t forget to check out some of my reviews of MegaMan Zero/ZX Legacy Collection and One Step From Eden. For more great interviews, reviews, editorials, and news stay tuned to CultureOfGaming.com or check us out on OpenCritic.com.