Streaming superstar Ninja was the most-watched Twitch streamer of 2018, clocking in at a whopping 226.85 million hours of collective watch time.
The Esports Observer announced the top 10 most watched Twitch channels for 2018, and Ninja, a mega-popular Fortnite streamer, took the number-one slot by a long shot. He grabbed that coveted slot thanks to many factors. His popularity as an online personality, Fortnite’s popularity as a game, and his own grueling work schedule, to name a few. He tweeted the staggering amount of time he had streamed this year: 3800 hours.
I have streamed 3800 hours of fortnite this year.
— Ninja (@Ninja) December 2, 2018
As Tubefilter points out, that’s the equivalent of 95 40-hour work weeks. In an interview with ESPN, Ninja admits that the hard work is required if he wants to remain “relevant. For taking one day off, he lost 15,000 subscribers, purely because of his absence. Livestreaming is powerful, but it is fickle, too. In a world of Internet celebrities, having a regular schedule is the key to success.
Schedules are king
For Twitch, the king of livestreaming, a regular schedule and constant availability add up to sacrificing most of one’s day just to make a living. Ninja admits that he’s working himself to the bone now because he’s thinking of his future: “Say this ends tomorrow, we don't have enough for the rest of our lives. I tell [my wife] Jess, 'Honey, we're not going to have that much quality time this year, or even next year. But if we do this right and I continue to grind for a couple more years, we can set ourselves up, and our family and our family's family, for the rest of our lives.'”
Livestreaming is certainly not a secure income. Ninja’s game of choice, Fortnite, won’t be in the spotlight forever. The astronomical number of hours (and resulting income) is born from a keen awareness of an uncertain future. In that context, his popularity doesn’t seem like a badge of honor. It seems, at least to me, like a burden.