Chess isn’t always competitive. Chess can also be… beautiful. It was the board I noticed first. It’s an entire world of just 64 squares. I feel safe in it. I can control it. I can dominate it. And it’s predictable, so if I get hurt, I only have myself to blame. - Beth Harmon.
Queen’s Gambit is a new series from Netflix. It covers the story of Beth Harmon, an orphan who was able to reach the peak of her chess career, despite society’s judgmentalism and having all kinds of addictions.
The series was appreciated by the well-known chess players, especially due to the degree of precision the creators filmed the chess games with.
The project clearly revived people's interest in the game of chess in general (for example, America saw a 250% growth of requests for buying chess). Additionally, a novel of the same name (that served as a basis for the series) only became a bestseller now, 37 years after its publication. Such a chess boom could well impact Twitch, which is something we’ll be checking today.
There’s a certain caveat to the process: the pandemic caused chess to completely move online. We’ve seen a tour from the world chess champion - Magnus Carlsen Invitational, while such grandmasters as Hikaru Nakamura became full-fledged streamers and found their audience on the platform.
More about chess: Viewership statistics of Magnus Carlsen Chess Tour
The scope of data analyzed is from September to early December. Before the release of the series, October was the category’s most successful month, with the category reaching a total of 1.1 million hours watched and 50 thousand peak viewers on Twitch. The number of viewers has increased thanks to the two rapid chess tournaments held during this period.
The series was released on October 23rd and since then the statistics shown by chess have only continued to grow. Comparing September and October shows, we can see that the Queen’s Gambit caused the hours watched increased by 46%, while the peak viewers increased by 29%. More channels began to stream chess, with the number of unique viewers reaching 1,8 million (which is a 122% increase). The growth of discipline remains present even when excluding the results of popular tournaments from the calculations.
The indicators peaked at the end of November, which is when the category reached 2,9 million hours watched and 92 thousand peak viewers, with only 1 million unique viewers visiting December chess broadcasts at least once.
Who is most favored by the viewers?
Grandmaster Hikaru Nakamura became the most popular chess streamer in November-December with 1,2 million hours watched. The second spot belongs to the official chess channel.
International Master Levy “GothamChess” Rozman entered the top 3 with 502 thousand hours watched. Although the top consists mainly of English-language channels, the Grandmaster BlitzStream took a hold of the 5th spot in the top with 222 thousand hours watched.
Grandmaster Daniel Naroditsky got the 7th spot with 139 thousand hours watched. Daniel streams mostly in Russian, but he also gave chess lessons to Moistcr1tical and reviewed games of xQc.
Queen’s Gambit has clearly attracted new viewers to the platform but was not the only cause of improvement of the results. While the pandemic makes the live tournaments impossible, the pro players and streamers are now fighting online.