Twitch: 4.4 million GCC gaming fans watched Arabic channels in 2020 - Gulf Business
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Twitch: 4.4 million GCC gaming fans watched Arabic channels in 2020

Twitch: 4.4 million GCC gaming fans watched Arabic channels in 2020

Number of streams in Arabic increased by 221% from February to May peak

Figures show 4.4 million gaming fans watched thousands of Arabic-language Twitch streams in 2020 across the UAE, Bahrain, Oman and Saudi Arabia. Numbers soared to 556,391 views in May as millions stayed home due to strict Covid-19 social distancing rules, stats from Twitch reveal.

The video site – which allows users to broadcast their gameplay live to fans around the world – recorded a total of 252,850 active streams throughout the year from countries across the region.

During March, Twitch streams in Arabic increased by 95.3 per cent year-on-year and 36.9 per cent compared to the previous month, while in April the yearly increase was 109.9 per cent.

Following a slowing in viewers as lockdown restrictions eased at the end of summer, the figures are once again on the rise with 436,291 gaming fans tuning in during November, followed by 572,143 in December.

The figures point to a gaming surge across the Middle East, with many of the top players coming from Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain.

Read: Playing for keeps: How the GCC is developing its esports industry

The MENA region has the fastest growing online gaming population in the world, increasing at 25 per cent year-on-year.

“The latest Twitch viewership figures show that the Middle East gaming market is growing at an unprecedented rate,” said Musab Abdulla, Technology and Innovation director at Bahrain Economic Development Board. “Not only are we attracting the attention of major global developers and events like the Blast Pro Series, but the ecosystem has spawned its secondary viewership market as millions tune in to watch their favourite gamers stream live online.”

“Arabic gaming is a substantial untapped growth market. Of all the games in the world, only four percent are available in the Arabic language despite 20 per cent of all gamers living in the Middle East. Now, with countries across the region seeking to attract international talent and entrepreneurs as part of ongoing diversification efforts, this market has massive growth potential,” he added.

In the Middle East, GCC nations are seeking to woo game developers with dedicated digital policies and access to advanced digital infrastructure.

In Bahrain, international and local game developers and gamers can benefit from Amazon Web Services’ first data centre region in the Middle East and Africa – and develop localised content for more than 400 million consumers across the Arabic-speaking MENA market.

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