- In August 2019, Tyler "Ninja" Blevins announced a precedent-setting deal to leave Amazon's Twitch streaming platform and exclusively stream on Microsoft's Mixer.
- Former competitive gamer and top streamer Michael "Shroud" Grzesiek announced a similar exclusivity streaming deal with Mixer just a few months later, on October 24.
- Both streamers reportedly received tens of millions of dollars in payment from the exclusivity deals, with Ninja in particular said to garner as much as $30 million.
- On June 22, Microsoft suddenly announced the closure of Mixer – and now both Ninja and Shroud are free agents once again, albeit apparently far richer than before.
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Amazon's Twitch is the most popular live video streaming service by a large margin.
Like Google-owned YouTube dominates internet video-on-demand, such is Twitch's dominance of live-streamed internet video. Millions of people are watching live videos streams on Twitch at any moment.
Microsoft's Mixer, meanwhile, often struggles to garner a few thousand concurrent viewers. The entire Mixer audience, in numbers, is consistently dwarfed by comparative Twitch viewership of a single game.
In an effort to compete, Microsoft spent tens of millions of dollars on two particularly high-profile exclusivity deals with the two highest-profile streamers: Tyler "Ninja" Blevins and Michael "Shroud" Grzesiek.
Then, on June 22, Microsoft suddenly announced plans to close Mixer. The service shutters on July 22, and any existing streamers will be re-routed to Facebook Gaming, the social network's own Twitch rival.
As for Ninja and Shroud? Microsoft confirmed to Business Insider that both are now free agents, and both are said to have received their full payout before exiting Mixer.
"Facebook offered an insane offer at almost double for the original Mixer contracts of Ninja and Shroud," esports consultant Rod "Slasher" Breslau tweeted. According to Breslau, the management company that handles both Ninja and Shroud declined the offer. "Ninja made ~$30M from Mixer, and Shroud made ~$10M," he said.
Breslau, an esports industry insider, is known for reliably breaking news on big deals in the space. Facebook declined to comment on whether it tried to bring Ninja or Shroud along as part of the deal.
Representatives for the management company, as well as representatives for Ninja and Shroud, didn't respond to request for comment as of publishing.
Ninja did, however, make a statement on his personal Twitter account. "I love my community and what we built together on Mixer," he said. "I have some decisions to make and will be thinking about you all as I make them."
Shroud offered a similar sentiment. "I appreciate the Mixer community and everything I've been able to do on the platform," he said. "I love you guys and am figuring out my next steps."
As for other Mixer streamers, Microsoft said in a statement that the choice of whether or not to go to Facebook Gaming is up to them.
"Facebook Gaming is welcoming all Mixer Partners," a statement from Microsoft sent to Business Insider said. "Ultimately it's up to them as they think about the next step for their careers, in the same way it's up to all Mixer Partners."