ESC

Microsoft Spent Millions Signing Talent to Mixer and Shut it Down Less Than a Year Later

Instagram / Ninja

It’s something that defies logic, but in a way, giant tech monopolies seem to benefit consumers at times. It obviously doesn’t overall, especially in the long term. The reason it appears to, though, is that competitors to industry leaders will often try to compete with ill-conceived exclusivity contracts.

Think about how your favorite network shows keep leaving Netflix. Friends, The Office, 30 Rock… all gone. Why? Other streaming services wanted to use them to bolster their own libraries so offered large amounts of money for the exclusive rights to them, or simply let the rights they own revert from Netflix the way Disney did with all of their shows. It’s annoying and now you have to get a dozen streaming services to watch the shows that all used to be on Netflix. Or you have to download a dozen launchers because a few big games got big checks to be on platforms other than Steam. Or you’re buying three video game consoles every generation to get some exclusive games.

Signing big exclusive contracts doesn’t always work the way you want it to, though. Friends didn’t lead to HBO Max having an explosive first week, it’s still not even available on the two biggest streaming devices. And it really didn’t work out for Mixer, Microsoft’s live-streaming platform, which the company just announced was being shut down.

Less than a year ago Microsoft paid Twitch star Ninja a reported $20-30 million to exclusively stream on Mixer, and they signed a number of other high-profile e-sports streamers to the platform. Before leaving for Mixer, Ninja had about 14 million subscribers on Twitch, and only about a million followed him to his new platform.

Just like people found other shows to watch on Netflix after they lost Friends and people found other streamers to watch on Twitch after Ninja left. Now he and the other streamers that got big Microsoft paydays will be free to go elsewhere or just sit around and enjoy their millions.

The whole ordeal kind of reminds me of the WCW vs the WWF Monday night wars in the 90s, with Mixer being the WCW. Microsoft just threw money at big stars from other platforms and assumed that it would bring in viewers and money. It didn’t work for Ted Turner and it didn’t work for Microsoft.

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