March 26, 2018
He goes by Ninja. He has electric blue hair, and he raking in cash by playing a video game to audiences the size of Wembley Stadium.
Meet Tyler Blevins, an Illinois-based 26-year-old who broke the internet Wednesday night when he live-streamed himself playing the massively popular game Fortnite with rapper Drake. His name may just now be mainstream — he trended on Twitter, and a story about the matchup even made BBC News. His Youtube channel is wildly popular with around 4.5 million subscribers eager to consume his content. In addition, Ninja is the star of the most-followed channel on the video platform Twitch, where viewers subscribe, donate, and pay to watch him play Fortnite. With this, he is estimated to be pulling in more than $560,000 a month.
Yes, you read that correctly…. $560,000 A MONTH.
At the start of his career, Ninja was a competitive Halo player, only pulling in around a thousand viewers on each of his streams. After Halo, however, Blevins switched over to H1Z1, the game that made the battle royale genre what it is today. Then he moved onto PUBG (Another more tactical, realistic battle royale game), and later last year, Fortnite. The former two games spiked his popularity, but when he started playing Fortnite, that’s when things really took off. His fan base really grew when he began streaming these battle royale games. With an already loyal fanbase he began playing Fortnite. On the very first match he placed 14th; now Ninja wins regularly (With normally 10+ kills a game).
Ninja insists that he doesn’t play just for profit, telling Forbes that “monthly revenue is always something I try not to discuss simply because I do not do it for the ‘good money.’” He’s also a philanthropist — he pays for shelter animals’ surgeries and supports charities like the American Foundation For Suicide Prevention, for which he raised $113,000 last month.
Looking forward, Ninja has big plans to continue growing. When he hit 150,000 subscribers this week, he made a speech on video thanking his supporters — and promising much much more to come. “I think that we haven’t even begun to peak, like I’m going to keep grinding, dude, YouTube videos are going to be spammed out every day, streaming every day, like this year’s going to be — you guys have no idea,” he said. “Sky’s the limit, dude. Twitch is blowing up. Be ready. Be prepared.”
On Tuesday, March 19th, Ninja sat down with CNBC to discuss the popularity of Fortnite and how he earns income from playing.
He was asked: “Where is most of your income coming from and how important is Twitch becoming in this gaming ecosystem?”
Ninja: A lot of the income is definitely coming from Amazon and their Twitch Prime subscribers. We also just hit five million subscribers on YouTube as well. Instagram is almost at a million followers and Twitter as well. The combination of all of those things is where all of that collective revenue is coming from. This deal that Amazon Prime and Twitch Prime have right now is just incredible. Twitch Prime allows people to collect in-game loot and they recently did a deal with Fortnite, and that is one of the main reasons for the influx of subscribers currently to my stream.”
Esports still has a large potential for growth on Twitch and competing platforms, but this moment reminds us that even the solo streamers can still have huge success. We are seeing an explosion of new streamers, many from YouTube, hoping to join the Twitch movement. Things will only get bigger.