When Tyler Blevins, who is best known in the video game world as Ninja, released a Cryptic Tweet Wednesday that seemed to suggest some sort of announcement, his ardent fans thought it could reveal the kind of dollar deal that would be expected from baseball or basketball stars.
Instead, Mr. Blevins, who was left homeless online when the Mixer streaming platform announced in June that it would close, played video games on YouTube and promised fans that more streams would arrive “before then”
The fact that Mr. Blevins can generate a flurry of speculation with a single tweet speaks of the influence of one of the world’s most famous online personalities and the growing popularity of high profile players. Mr. Blevins said in interviews that he would like to be famous as basketball star LeBron James.
On Wednesday, the tenth anniversary of the day Mr. James decided to sign with the Miami Heat, Mr. Blevins made his first live stream on his YouTube channel. He appeared with electric blue hair next to friends and played the popular Fortnite game. At its peak, over 160,000 people tunes into Mr. Blevins’ 97-minute stream.
Fans and game news sites were initially quick to declare that Mr. Blevins had landed permanently on YouTube, but many braked when it has become unclear if Mr. Blevins had signed an agreement with the company.
Loyalists from Twitch, Amazon’s owned streaming platform, had begged Mr. Blevins to “go home” for the service, which he used as he skyrocketed several years ago before signing an agreement with Mixer, owned by Microsoft.
Mr. Blevins, who claimed to earn over $ 500,000 a month from streaming, has over 14 million followers on Twitch – the most on the platform – despite not being active there since he left for Mixer last summer, earning $ 20 million to $ 30 million in the process.
It has nearly 24 million YouTube subscribers, although it said on its stream that it had never gone live on YouTube before Wednesday.
If Mr. Blevins chooses to stream exclusively on YouTube, it could provide a boost to YouTube’s game drive. The platform recently signed star contention Felix Kjellberg, better known as PewDiePie, with an exclusive contract, but drags Twitch on everyone in the fight to dominate the live gaming industry.
“Power in the livestream gaming industry has gradually shifted from platforms to creators,” said Doron Nir, CEO of the livestream service provider StreamElements, “since they now have more options on where to build their brand.”
Mr. Blevins’ representatives did not respond to a request for comment.
“We welcome any content from him,” said YouTube spokeswoman Talia Yates, adding that the company will continue to work with Mr. Blevins to increase his presence on YouTube. He wouldn’t say if Mr. Blevins had entered into an agreement with YouTube, which is owned by Google.
Mr. Nir said he would not be surprised if Mr. Blevins avoided limiting himself to a single platform.
“While lucrative exclusivity agreements are on the agenda,” he said, “we expect to see the rise of transcendent creators. These are people who are capable of being bigger than any platform with the freedom to reach a Much wider audience by exploiting them all. Oprah, Ellen and Bill Simmons have all exemplified the advantage of not binding to a single platform and Ninja can easily follow suit. “