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Epic Games took a blowtorch to the expectations surrounding its Fortnite content release last week with an in-game event that involved the battle royale being unplayable from Sunday afternoon until Tuesday.
The resulting viewership for Fortnite on Twitch produced the game’s most hours watched in a single day as fans who couldn’t play turned to streamers on Twitch in an attempt to figure out why the game had turned into what appeared to be a black hole.
As many expected following the outage, Fortnite released a new season, named “Chapter 2,” along with a bunch of new content, a changed map, and a skill-based matchmaking mode. In the past, such a content release would drive viewership for Fortnite on Twitch and propel it above other competing titles like Apex Legends or Call of Duty.
However, unlike in the past, viewership for Fortnite spiked as hype was generated for the new content during Epic Games’ “Black Hole” in-game stunt, and in the days following release, viewership didn’t manage to sustain the same levels that it had for previous releases.
Following a few strong days of viewership on Twitch during the release of “Chapter 2,” viewership for Fortnite dipped back down to around 2M hours watched a day. Prior to the release of Fortnite’s new in-game season of content, viewership hovered just above 1M hours watched per day for the first couple of weeks of October as many broadcasters waited eagerly for new content to be released.
Though viewership is higher now than it was prior to the new content release, it pales in comparison to what the cartoonish battle royale was able to accomplish for its big fall release in 2018.
For the first seven days of “Chapter 2” on Twitch, Fortnite racked up 19.55M hours watched, down from 22.89M hours watched for the release of “Season 6” at the end of September in 2018.
Meanwhile, not accounting for the content patch’s much-hyped release day, Fortnite had 15M hours watched for the seven days after the release of “Chapter 2” from Oct. 16-22, down from 21.12M hours watched in 2018 following Season 6’s release.
While the viewership of a game like Fortnite on the day that new content is unveiled will almost always be strong, the audience that the game manages to maintain in the days following the release helps us understand the health of the game compared to previous years and content releases.
It’s obvious that Fortnite isn’t the same powerhouse that it was in 2018, but even compared to some of the game’s recent seasons, “Chapter 2” hasn’t had the same sort of staying power. For Season 10 (which was released on Aug. 1), the game had 16.55M hours watched from Aug. 2-8. Additionally, following Season 9’s launch (which was on May 9) the game had 18.4M hours watched from May 10-16. Both figures are higher than the 15M hours watched of “Chapter 2.”
It’s not all bad news for Fortnite, though. While the viewership for Fortnite wasn’t maintained as well as it has been in the past, the way that Epic Games chose to use a big bang-like event to unveil the content paid immediate dividends. Not only did Fortnite have its most-watched day ever on Twitch as many were stuck staring at a black hole, but the game also recorded significantly more hours watched on the day that the content was released compared to the most recent season.
On Oct. 15, Fortnite had 6.53M hours watched, due largely to the in-game black hole event that hyped up the new season. That was up significantly from the 3.79M hours watched that the game had on the day that Season 10 dropped in August.
Another factor that cannot be ignored regarding Fortnite’s success on Twitch is the absence of 2018’s most-watch streamer, Tyler “Ninja” Blevins, who left the platform in favor of an exclusive deal with Mixer in the summer. Blevins was still streaming on Twitch in May when Season 9 released, and he even led all influencers from May 9-15 for the first seven days of the season with 2M hours watched, averaging 46.06K concurrent viewers.
With the recent release of Activision’s latest Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, Fortnite’s time in the spotlight on Twitch has been significantly shorter than it regularly has been in the past surrounding large content releases, suggesting a decline in the game’s popularity on Twitch.
Though the game is still the second most-watched game on Twitch by a large margin so far this year, declining interest in it leaves it vulnerable to more dips in viewership as developers continue to release new games. As Epic Games looks to continue its reign with Fortnite as one of the world’s most popular games, experimenting with more in-game events and constantly refreshing content could be key as it competes with round after round of newly released games.
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