Only a few months ago it seemed unimaginable that someone would be rocking the streaming world with chess. But that’s what’s happened over the past year for Grandmaster Hikaru Nakamura.
Online gaming ratings had just started to surpass many cable television networks in 2018 when Hikaru first began streaming chess on Twitch. With viewers interested in action-adventure games like Fortnite or League of Legends, would there be an audience for a board game that is over 2,000 years old?
Since the coronavirus pandemic, interest in Hikaru’s channel has exploded. From a cameo appearance on the Showtime series “Billions” to signing with e-sports marketing firm TSM, Hikaru has been steadily increasing the popularity of chess and attracting many new viewers to the game.
In August 2020, his audience had grown to over 500,000 followers which led Hikaru to the TSM sponsor deal. Features in the New York Times, on NPR and Bloomberg showcased his momentum. And the viewership has continued to grow.
On February 15, 2021, Hikaru surpassed the 1 million followers mark for his own channel, plus he has helped other chess streamers grow substantial audiences as well. As dotesports.com reported:
“Hikaru is the greatest success story when it comes to transitioning from chess to streaming. His insight into the game and willingness to collaborate with other streamers broke down some of the presumed barriers to entry into the chess space and helped grow it to what it has become today.”
With Hikaru’s high-energy, entertaining approach to chess, we’ve come a long way from a time when even the players themselves might have fallen asleep during a chess game. Tune in: https://www.twitch.tv/gmhikaru