Through the bitter cold of February, Twitch viewers turned increasingly to female streamers and, of all games, chess.
As reported in StreamElements’ monthly report, chess had a record-breaking 21 million hours viewed in February alone, continuing a year-long trend of elevated viewership. Its numbers began to climb during the pandemic, peaking in June when Chess.com partnered with Twitch and hosted a “Pogchamp Series” tournament. The Queen’s Gambit reinvigorated interest in the timeless game, sending its numbers soaring since November.
StreamElements also pointed out that seven female streamers have broken into Twitch’s top 200 streamers: Pokimane, saddummy, itsHafu, Ash_on_LoL, Dyannatv, Maya, fuslie, Mayichi, BotezLive, and pqueen. Pokimane remains the highest of the batch with over 2 million hours viewed last month, putting her roughly in top 100. The report celebrates the variety of content made by these creators across a variety of genres, including Ash_on_Lol, a vtuber.
BotezLive embodies both of these growing trends. Operated by the sisterly duo of Alexandra and Andrea Botez, the channel ranked seventh on the list of most viewed chess channels last month with almost a million hours watched. Born in America, they have represented Team Canada in various international events, and sporadically host Just Chatting streams and other games beyond chess.
Overall Twitch viewership was down from January’s record high of over 2 billion hours watched, but still brought in 1.86 billion hours over 28 days. Before the pandemic began last March, Twitch’s total had barely exceeded 1 billion in February 2020. The site’s viewership has not stooped below 1.4 billion total hours monthly since April. Amongst these elevated trends, it is encouraging to see female streamers making headway into the top charts, and doing so in a variety of fields.
Twitch’s most popular categories last month were Just Chatting with 235 million hours, League of Legends with 144 million, and Grand Theft Auto V with 135 million. Chess, by comparison, ranked seventeenth.