As the streaming industry booms, Microsoft's Mixer remains dead in the water

Mixer @ E3
Mixer @ E3 (Image credit: Windows Central)

As the pandemic began to spread across the globe, it has changed the way millions of us consume content and work. Cloud-based working platforms like Microsoft Teams and Slack have seen a massive surge in users, and gaming platforms like Xbox Live and PlayStation Network have also seen record growth.

One other area that has seen record numbers is video game streaming platforms. A recent report from StreamElements detailed how various platforms such as Facebook Gaming, YouTube Gaming, Twitch, and others, have reported triple-figure year-over-year growth, owing in part to pandemic. One very notable elephant in the room is Microsoft's Mixer platform, which remains utterly, tragically flat.

Source: Stream Elements (Image credit: Source: Stream Elements)

While the industry as a whole effectively doubled year-over-year, Mixer's own growth remained flat, at a measly 0.2 percent year-over-year. Without the pandemic, it's not hard to envision that Mixer would have shrunk during this period instead, suggesting to me that the platform has a serious issue retaining users.

Microsoft may need a miracle here.

Mixer was always the underdog going into this battle. Facebook and YouTube have utterly massive established audiences they can leverage to soak up users, and Twitch remains the dominant force in the space, with the lion's share of the industry's "celebrities." Mixer also has a fair amount of systemic problems, with platform instability anecdotally often cited to me as a reason people don't stick around.

Pulling in big names like Ninja and Shroud doesn't seem to have helped the platform grow as a whole, particularly when you consider the fact other platforms are also splashing the cash around. YouTube brought up exclusive rights to the entire Activision-Blizzard streaming esports operation, alongside etching a deal with YouTube heavyweight Pewdiepie for streaming shows.

The future of Mixer truly remains uncertain. As anyone following Microsoft for any length of time will know, the company generally doesn't stick it out with a failing product for very long. Microsoft may be able to turn the tide, particularly if future games like Halo Infinite manage to rack up a healthy exclusive esports presence. That said, typically Xbox has been putting its shows across all platforms, rather than on Mixer exclusively.

Will Mixer survive? Right now, it's not looking great, but who knows? As a fan of the service, I hope it does, but Microsoft may need a miracle here.

Related: Best Webcams for Streaming in 2020

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Jez Corden
Managing Editor

Jez Corden is the Managing Editor for Windows Central, focusing primarily on all things Xbox and gaming. Jez is known for breaking exclusive news and analysis as relates to the Microsoft ecosystem while being powered by caffeine. Follow on Twitter @JezCorden and listen to his Xbox Two podcast, all about, you guessed it, Xbox!

  • Yep not looking good. I can see why YouTube and FB are seeing increases as everyone has heard of them and probably has an account with them. MS really needs to reach out to more than just gamers imo, but that's easier said than done.
  • On Xbox before the February update I think, usually when someone mentioned Mixer it usually was for the sole purpose of removing it, I don't think having Mixer into the Xbox system is doing it any good. It needs a solid app like other platforms have, Windows 10 still does not have a Mixer app to this day other than 3rd party ones
  • Pretty sure I've read articles that MS pretty much has a skeleton crew running Mixer... which is never good for a service especially a streaming service. Not sure why MS bought high value personalities if they don't seem to care about the service itself.
  • What article is it? If this is true, then maybe no wonder why the service growth is still flat. The site still needs more improvements especially performance, it just felt sluggish, also kinda hard to find channels or at least it wasn't as familiar as other major streaming platforms. Heck they even remove Mixer from Xbox menu and Windows 10 Game Bar. What gives.
  • It was actually a windows central article back in feb of this year. Microsoft might as well either get serious about it or kill it off. Keeping it status quo is the worst thing they can do.
  • Advertising might help., maybe.
  • Not surprising, as Microsoft keeps working as a provider over a real ecosystem and platform. They bought up two big-name streamers and didn't follow that momentum with anything meaningful. On the one hand, I wanted them to have gotten OWL onto Mixer. On the other, OWL viewership has similarly looked quite poor this year. Call of Duty's pro league has shown good growth though, so that Activision-Blizzard partnership still could have gone over well. It's more of the same with Microsoft, as commitment to the ecosystem is minimal. They have pushed so far into this "on everything" deal with Game Pass and Play Anywhere and cross-play that people have no reason to look at MS platforms first. If you aren't all-in on Ninja or Shroud, what does Mixer offer? I used to watch quite a few people over there, made some good friends in the process. Now I never go there because...I just don't se anything I want to watch. Maybe Halo gives things a jolt, but for how long? Unless Infinite makes a surprising pro scene push and gets mainstream, nothing seems able to grow the platform. Microsoft has to be willing to make Halo's pro scene Mixer-exclusive, along with developing a good Froza league, among other content. Right now, Mixer is just the same content on a smaller scale, in the best of scenarios. That's speaking of pure content creators, ignoring that Mixer lacks eSports content and other big scene draws, rather than just two shiny names.
  • wtf is even Mixer
  • My son signed up for Twitch Prime today through Amazon Prime. He'll be getting $1 mil GTA Online dollars plus other in game goodies and can subscribe to his favorite Twitch streamer for free. How does Microsoft integrate Xbox live or Game Pass Ultimate into Mixer?
  • That's fine to me, they had increases in other areas. People played more games than doing anything on Mixer. As long as the stats are similar, then I'd say they're doing fine for now.
  • I'm not a big fan of watching streams, unless I know the people, and it never really hooked me. Personally, I think the name is horrendous. Should have left it as Beam. Mixer, to me, sounds like a name cooked up by execs. Beam was far better, punchier, fewer syllables, and explained what it did. Mixer, sounds like a music app, to me. Bizarre choice. I'm into strongman, and the recent world record deadlift may have actually been streamed on Twitch (there was talk of it). That blew up! Mixer needs to attract stuff like that, in addition to games. That said, it is fairly clunky on my day one Xbox One.
  • They switched from Beam to Mixer because they faced trademark issues in a variety of international markets with the former but already owned global rights to the latter. I think one of the reasons their growth has stagnated recently is because they removed Mixer from the Xbox One Dashboard. It used to be easily visible and accessible with a RB click or two on your way through the Game Pass, Community, and Store tabs. Now that they removed that, it's out of sight, out of mind. I actually enjoyed visiting all four of those tabs before but now I just find myself not going out of the way to view them anymore, Mixer especially. The most bizarre thing for me, though, is that when they bought Beam, the technology was great: FTL sub-second delay streaming. And now on Xbox One, the "revamped, built-in app" has a massive delay. There seemed to be so much potential with viewer interactivity that has gone to waste. It's starting to feel like another one of their mismanaged acquisitions.
  • Ah, yeah, I remember now you've said it. Still a poor name, I reckon. I'm glad they got rid of mixer from the home screen, I hated having to go past it to get to community. Community should have been first. I used to look at community a fair bit. I'm on the preview programme, and they've altered it further, it now scrolls horizontally and is split into types. I barely use community now, which is a shame really.
  • Hypezones were a terrible idea as well. Mixer ended up being a place where everyone streamed the same few games in the hope of a hypezone temporary clout increase.
  • I guess it's hard to compete when your service is platform specific compared to the competition. With that said, I don't care for any of these streaming services.
  • Mixer needs to be made available for other consoles like the Nintendo Switch. They missed a massive opportunity with Animal Crossing this year. Although how would Mixer develop an app for another platform if they can barely keep their head above water on Xbox One?
  • I'm pretty sure they said they wanted to develop an app for PS4 but Sony wouldn't let them.
  • Mixer was managed about as well as cortana was...
  • Reminds me of the windows phone days and seeing Android and iPhone dominate.
  • Satya three months from now after killing Mixer: "I did not get why the world needed the third--sorry, fourth--ecosystem in streaming."
  • The service is a mess. It doesn't have nearly the features or availability of any of the major streaming platforms and they don't show any indication that any of the features people are asking for are being done. People are just abandoning it because Microsoft won't invest in it's own platform. Just like Windows Phone and Cortana and UWP. Mixer is just getting the usual Microsoft treatment. This is no surprise.
  • Microsoft likes to strike where the iron is hot. And that's it.
  • Likely they will can Mixer soon enough. At this point Twitch and YouTube streaming options should be aggressively pursued for Series X. Give gamers what they want and use. I have faith they will get there. Mixer is not popular and would cost way too much to make good. Should have bought Twitch when it was available
  • Mixer is a terrible name. And MS's marketing of it is non-existent. I would have not known about it if I didn't click on the app while on Xbox. I thought it was a another music service.
  • This is the same marketing team that came up with the name "Xbox Series X" for the next gen console.
  • Agree. Sounds like a music sampling app. Doesn't roll off the tongue either. Garbage branding.
  • There is NO up front search.
    There is NO sort by viewer count.
    They have three Non-Game categories competing with each other that drives them all into invisibility.
    (The equivalent to Twitch's "Just Chatting"-- Which by the way is almost always number one or two) She that shall not be named but has found herself in charge of Mixer has developed quite a reputation for fighting tooth and nail to make her terrible decisions and ideas work.... no matter how much of a failure they are. Just rumors though..... of course.... PS. No, I will not click around and search for the search box.....
  • I agree with you there. The fact that there is no universal search box, front and center, like every other homepage has had since 2003, is absolutely inexcusable.
  • The fact that Facebook Gaming overtook them by so much is ******* sad