With Mixer shutting down in July, it is no surprise that questions have been raised about the future of Ninja, who back in August 2019 announced his move to the platform in a lucrative multimillion dollar deal. But where did this journey begin? We take a look at Ninja’s story and the factors that made him stand out among the streamer crowd.
Ninja, aka Tyler Blevins, is an unusual character, albeit a somewhat tame one, judging by all the sponsorship deals resting on his shoulders nowadays. His venture into the world of streaming began a decade ago, yet it wasn’t until the release of Fortnite that his channel gained momentum, attracting in excess of 100,000 viewers a day. His early days on the game were characterised by his witty humour, slick skills and – occasionally – energetic outbursts, well documented across multiple platforms. Little did he realise that his life (and demeanour) would completely change in just a few months.
Ninja’s babysteps on Fortnite were characterised by his expletive-laden vocals and questionable attitude at times. Nonetheless Epic Games quickly realised how much traction the game was gaining thanks to his engaging persona. The once foul-mouthed streamer turned into a prominent figure idolised not only by his followers but also their parents as a role model for their kids. That unquestionably had an impact on his behaviour while on-stream, not least because of the brands that expected an ambassador for their products.
March 2018 was a defining moment in Ninja’s career: his stream attracted over 600,000 concurrent viewers. The likes of Drake and Travis Scott tuned in to play some games with the blue haired streamer in front of a diverse audience. This amalgamation of two different industries – music and gaming – combined a fan base that introduced many of its followers to the world of streaming for the very first time. Brands didn’t take long to react to this new marketing opportunity, with names such as Red Bull, Uber Eats and NZXT capitalising on the opportunity to reach new userbases.
One could conclude that Ninja’s steaming empire was built with a mixture of both luck and skill. His streaming persona has blossomed into a mature, well balanced gamer; an advocate for respect online. As with anything in life, getting the stars to align in your favour helps a lot and backing it with some solid foundation can make or break a streaming career. We take a look at some of the things that helped Ninja reach his peak.
Ninja tirelessly streamed Fortnite day in, day out. This helped him build up his fan base quickly, but the reverse was also true - during Tyler visit to E3 he remained offline for 48 hours, leading to a loss of 40,000 subscribers. If you want to be big, you gotta work for it. While there are many streamers out there who play a mix of games (Sodapoppin being among my favourites), Ninja reached critical mass by being the go-to streamer whenever one wanted to indulge in some Fortnite. If someone thought Fornite, they thought Ninja. The two became inseparable.
There are successful streamers who don’t even play games on Twitch. Yet a significant number of viewers come on to watch a streamer play in order to understand the game better, harness some ticks and tricks and improve their personal gameplay. Fornite introduced some groundbreaking mechanics into the game that gave Battle Royale its momentum. Ninja quickly capitalised on his skill set, often winning his matches in style. Viewers wanted a piece of that pie - to get good at this new genre. Ninja’s stream was the perfect stage for this.
Ninja wasn’t only good - he was also entertaining. He would pick up various discussions with DrLupo with whom he often partnered with, as well as other gamers (such as the aforementioned Drake). His witty sense of humour, social awareness and common knowledge gave rise to a wide ranging spectrum of discussions that did not feel recycled. Having such a broad arsenal of topics at disposal while streaming will build your user engagement.
I remember watching a Slender Man stream where the streamer would scream his butt off every time his end was approaching which, at the time, was amusing - but perhaps a questionable approach to build a viewerbase that will want to stay on your stream for a little longer.
Being controversial can sometimes help attract viewers who want to sit back and eat some popcorn - a perfect example of that is Asmongold. His at times salty demeanour is actually an admirably well balanced blend of intellect and creativity in that his directed offense is usually within the realms of typical guy talk. Interestingly, Asmongold never uses explicit language within World of Warcraft in order to avoid breaking the EULA (End User License Agreement) and keeps his openness on stream.
Ninja’s outbursts on Twitch are a thing of the past. He constructively discusses topics and issues without favouritism and stays politically correct when controversial issues are raised. This helps to keep his viewers in line and happy, which brings me to the next point...
Do what you're good at and create content you can earn on. Stream and work with major brands.
Think about how you want to monetise your stream. Is it through the number of views your stream racks up? Or the sponsors who want to associate your name with their products? Whichever path you choose, think about the values a brand represents and who their main target group is. It may take a little digging around and deciphering to figure out what those values may be, as not every brand has them explicitly stated.
Some people like entertainers - whether you do that through engaging your viewers in fresh and funky discussions, visual candy or are a downright asshole, that’s up to you, but bear in mind the above.
At first glance it was easy to spot how Ninja wanted to differentiate himself - through his vibrant blue hair. DrDisrespect would get an A+ in this department also, with his neatly groomed mustache, shades and hefty wig. As a longstanding Warcraft 3 fan, I personally enjoy Grubby’s stream with the occasional appearance of his adorable labrador, Logan!
For those with more sensitive ears, audio clipping is traumatising. This shouldn’t be an issue if you keep your voice tone at a constant level, but that’s not very expressive, is it? You want a mic that can capture the highs and the lows of your charming voice.
Ninja uses the Rode Procaster Broadcast Dynamic Vocal Microphone which should be around 140 Euros. He also keeps a slightly cheaper (about 85 Euros).
Love him or loathe him, Ninja has undeniably become a staple in modern streaming and an inspiration to many. Perhaps there’s someone around the corner who’s gonna make it as big, or even bigger - could it be you?