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The Impact of Female Streamers on the Streaming Industry

Women in streaming are more prominent than ever. As female streamers leverage their presence on streaming platforms to make their voices heard, a slew of social inequalities are being addressed. While gaming and online culture have been historically dominated by a male-centric discourse, change is already happening.

In celebration of International Women’s Day, Stream Hatchet is shining a spotlight on some of the intelligent, charismatic women shaping the streaming industry. Organizations like Women in Streaming Media are actively empowering women with more opportunities and exposure than ever before – but it takes singular, influential figures to stand up and revolutionize the landscape. 

So when someone does decide to speak up, either by their words or their actions, it’s worthy of remembering. To that end, Stream Hatchet is looking at some of the big accomplishments of women in streaming, from esports to Vtubers.

Female Streamers Draw In Consistent Viewership, but are Still Underrepresented

Female streamers are performing well recently, with big names like rivers_gg and Emiru competing against male streamers with average minute viewerships (AMAs) of 23K and 16K respectively. More importantly, these numbers are mostly up from 2022: Emiru and QTCinderella both grew their viewership by 18% in the past year, while rivers_gg had a massive jump of 111% (up from 11K in 2022). This is encouraging, showing that viewers are gradually accepting female streamers into the core streaming space across a variety of content types.

However despite this growth, there’s still a long way to go in terms of diversity on streaming platforms. In 2023, just 10% of the top 1000 streamers on Twitch were women, with YouTube and Kick not faring much better at 12% and 13% respectively. It’s not yet clear what the reason is behind this: One could argue that women are simply less interested in becoming streamers. However, the opinions of many female streamers contradicts this, as discussed below.

Female Streamers Break into the Male-Dominated Esports Arena

Despite esports historically being a male-dominated industry, female streamers are making waves with some exceptional players. Followers for female esports continue to grow year-on-year, with Fortnite player Loserfruit reaching 2.9M subscribers in March 2024. Pokimane is by far the biggest leader in this corner of the industry, amassing 9.3 million Twitch followers in her decade on the platform. As of last month, Pokimane has started streaming on other platforms as well, rocketing to 6.6 million viewers on YouTube.

Pokimane has been vocal on the topic of misogyny in livestreaming culture, blasting the “red pill” community discourse. But not all female esports streamers are so pessimistic about the potential for women in live-streaming. Fortnite player Loeya is hopeful about the impact of exceptional female players in esports: “It’s been really nice to kind of get to break that really just twisted stereotype that girls can’t play certain games just because they’re too competitive”. Loeya hopes that this “encouragement train” of women getting to see women in the top tournaments will create a more welcoming environment for diversity in the esports sphere.

Top Vtubers Display a Diverse Array of Female Streamers

The Vtuber space is one of the few areas of streaming that is dominated by women. Usada Pekora tops the chart with an AMA of 30.9K – numbers that are competitive with even the top male IRL streamers. 2023 was a particularly big year for her, capitalizing on the Year of the Rabbit to create brand awareness for her bunny girl persona and even getting her own self-styled Usada Tamagotchi. Although there was some controversy regarding the male-created Neuro-sama ranking as the top female streamer in some charts, this is an exception: Most female Vtubers are authentically women.

Vtuber Ironmouse is a shining example of Vtuber impact, having won Content Creator of the Year at 2023’s The Game Awards. In June of 2023, Ironmouse hosted a month-long Sub-a-Thon event in which she streamed for 31 days straight to raise money for The Immune Deficiency Foundation. This was a particularly personal endeavor, given that Ironmouse herself has a chronic immune condition which kept her isolated and drove her to streaming. It’s empowering to see streamers turning their hardships into positive movements.

Although Vtubers are primarily Japanese, such as the ever-popular Hololive Vtuber group, the category is expanding internationally. Shylily is a non-conventional Vtuber, hailing from the Netherlands. Although her orca-cat hybrid persona seems like ‘classic Vtuber’ fare, she has dispensed with the shy persona of many female Vtubers. Instead, Shylily uses Vtubing to separate her streaming from real life: “…you have this very clear differentiation between real life… and what people associate with my name online”. In the future, we may see more women using Vtubing as a safe way to enter the streaming space.

The Streaming Landscape is Being Shaped By Influential Women

Aside from their exceptional performance in content creation, female streamers are also generating change in the streaming industry by going above and beyond to create new programs and speak out on the issues that matter to them.

QTCinderella founded The Streamer Awards, with the first edition back in March of 2022 generating massive hype and honoring some of the most talented creators in the streaming industry. These awards aren’t just about getting views: Awards ceremonies are an important aspect of making industries official and recognised, creating a history for future generations to reflect upon. Thanks to QTCinderella, there is now an annual event to allow for reflection on the state of the streaming industry.

Pokimane has been influential in calling out inequalities and championing social issues within the industry. Instead of resting on her laurels, Pokimane continues to leverage her fan base to bring attention to evolving streaming concerns. In 2022, Pokimane banded together with other Twitch streamers against gambling abuse, threatening a strike if changes weren’t made to the platform’s attitude towards gambling streams. Her voice was heard by Twitch, who changed their policies in reaction to the strike. Crucially, however, her opinions have resonated forwards: Countries such as Türkiye recently banned (and then unbanned) Twitch and Kick over youth gambling concerns.

The streamers featured here are just a small selection of the women shaking up streaming. 2024 is also off to a great start for female streamers, seeing the rise of new female voices in the streaming space. Female streamer viewership continues to grow, but more work needs to be done to create a culture that celebrates diversity across all platforms. Stream Hatchet will be following the evolution of streaming culture to come.

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