In 2018, Ninja was at the top of his game and untouchable.
At his peak Tyler “Ninja” Blevins led video gaming streaming site Twitch with more than 200,000 subscribers – people have paid $5, $10 or $25 (£3.84, £7.68 or £19.20) per month to watch him play video games such as Fortnite.
But it is now estimated that he has fewer than 30,000 subscribers, leaving him lagging behind gaming personalities such as Shroud, Tfue and Summit1G.
So why is Ninja no longer top of the pack?
Content is king on Twitch
Streaming video games can be a simple hobby, but for those at the top it can be more time intensive than a full-time job.
Take Michael “Shroud” Grzesiek for example, who revealed this month that he has over 60,000 Twitch subscribers.
In the first full week of February, Shroud streamed for 86 hours and three minutes, primarily playing Fortnite-like battle royale game Apex Legends.
Jaryd “Summit1g” Lazar played Apex for 54 hours and 25 minutes during that week, while Turner “Tfue” Tenney chalked up 57 hours and 38 minutes on Fortnite.
In contrast, Ninja “only” clocked up 32 hours and six minutes of gaming in that same period of time.
That followed a week off for the popular streamer, who once admitted on Twitter that he lost 40,000 subscribers simply for taking off two days for a gaming conference.
Wanna know the struggles of streaming over other jobs? I left for less than 48 hours and lost 40,000 subscribers on twitch. I’ll be back today (Wednesday) grinding again.
— Ninja (@Ninja) June 13, 2018
Does this mean he is losing money?
Firstly, Ninja is still making a lot of money through Twitch.
If all of his subscribers were only donating the minimum amount, and if he was receiving just 50% of that after Twitch take their cut (some popular streamers can receive up to the full amount), he would still be making $75,000 (£57,450) per month.
Ninja has also diversified dramatically over the past year, growing his YouTube channel from three million subscribers in February 2018 to 21 million in February 2019, simply by uploading highlights from his Twitch streams.
Although people do not pay to subscribe on YouTube, the opportunity this creates for monetisation through advertising revenue, sponsorship deals and merchandise sales is immeasurable.
On top of this, there is one other thing that separates Ninja from the streamers ahead of him in the Twitch subscriber count.
He is now mainstream.
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Appearing in an advert that aired during this year’s Super Bowl is not the only evidence of Ninja’s increased presence in the mainstream.
In September 2018 the gamer appeared on the cover of ESPN magazine and at the end of the year he hosted an event on New Year’s Eve in the middle of New York’s Times Square.
He has also started testing the waters in other areas, such as releasing an electronic dance music (EDM) album Ninjawerks Volume One, that includes collaborations with EDM artists Tycho, Alesso and 3LAU.
So it seems that rather than focus on Ninja’s drop in Twitch subscribers, it may be more accurate to see it as a trade towards mainstream success.