If you want to be successful at live streaming, you should pay close attention to…
Imagine you have your streaming equipment ready, you signed up for a streaming platform and came up with a good idea for a live stream. All that’s left is to hit the record button in OBS to share your content with the world. Still, a question plagues your mind – when is the best time to stream online?
This question comes up often, so we decided to find relevant information on the matter. You can find the results of our findings in the paragraphs below.
Is There a Best Time for Streaming?
Let’s get this out of the way first – there is no single ideal time for streaming. People live in different time zones and follow different schedules, so it’s impossible to pick a time of day that would work for everyone.
That said, it is possible to find a time slot that in certain circumstances works better than others. To do so, consider the following factors and use them as a guideline for figuring out the best time to stream.
When to Stream?
Take into consideration the factors below and devise a strategy for the best streaming time that suits your target audience.
1. Twitch Peak Times
Twitch peak times are useful for determining the best time to stream. There are two peaks to consider:
- Peak Viewers – the time of day with the most viewers.
- Peak Streamers – the time of day with the most streamers.
According to TwitchTracker, viewers peak between 00:50 AM to 02:00 AM UTC on an average day. The peak is distributed slightly differently during weekends, from 10:30 PM to 03:30 AM UTC.
As for streamers, they tend to peak twice during the day, first from 00:00 AM to 03:00 AM UTC and then from 06:30 AM to 08:00 AM UTC.
2. Best Viewer-to-Streamer Ratio
For each time during the day, there is a ratio between the number of active streamers and viewers. What’s important to note here is that a given ratio can represent two different realities.
For instance, a low viewer-to-streamer ratio can mean that there are fewer viewers in total, so there are less to go around for each active streamer. Alternatively, it can mean that there are a lot of viewers, but also many competing streamers, so each streamer gets a smaller share.
The same principle applies when the viewer-to-streamer ratio is higher than average – either there is an abundance of viewers or a lack of streamers during.
The best time to stream is when:
- There are few competing streamers, meaning you can grab a larger share of the audience.
- There are more viewers and even a smaller share of viewers can mean a big audience.
Time zones are another factor to take into consideration. If you’re trying to reach a global audience, the choice is simple: go for the peak periods. But if you’re trying to reach a more specific crowd, your local time zone is a good place to start.
Analyze streaming statistics for your time zone to find streaming activity patterns. If there is more activity in the early evening in your local time zone compared to the global average, adjust your broadcast time accordingly.
Viewer demographics play a key role in determining the best time to stream. People have their preferred time of day for watching live stream content, and they’re not likely to change their schedule just to catch a live stream. More importantly, people simply can’t watch a live stream during certain hours of the day due to school or work.
In practical terms, this means you should adjust your live stream to fit your audience’s leisure time. This is why most content creators stream during the evening, as most people are at their homes relaxing.
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5. Competing Streamers
Live streaming is highly competitive. No matter when you decide to stream, you will be going head-to-head against other streamers in your niche, more so if you’re streaming popular games like Minecraft or Hearthstone. This leaves you with a choice: compete directly and risk losing viewers, or stream at less competitive hours but with a smaller audience.
A more sophisticated tactic would be to study your competitors to find out their streaming schedule. Then arrange your schedule to start streaming either a bit earlier (to catch impatient viewers), or immediately after a competitor’s stream finishes (to catch streaming junkies).
6. Personal Schedule
Last but not least, you should always take into account your personal schedule when deciding when to stream. If you’re busy with work during the day, this puts a constraint on your streaming schedule, same with school. Other obligations such as travel, housework, or raising children also limit your available streaming hours.
That said, you can still succeed as a live streamer, even with a busy schedule. The key is consistency. If you can only stream during the weekend, and only during the daytime, this can still work if you’re consistent over a longer period.
How Long Should You Stream?
There is no hard rule here, but most popular live streamers typically stream for at least 3 hours per session. That is not to say that you shouldn’t go below 3 hours, but if your main competitors stream more, you will lose out on potential viewers.
Professional streamers do upwards of 4 hours a day, including weekends, which is hard to beat if you have a day job or are attending school. Some hardcore streamers even do 24-hour live streams, but this is usually reserved for special events or streams with multiple guests.
How Frequently Should You Stream?
Although it pays off to stream more, frequency is less important than the consistency. Everything depends on your schedule, the game you’re streaming, your competitors, and your audience’s daily habits. As a good rule of thumb, always stream at least once during the weekend, and ideally one more day during the week.
What to Do if Busy Streaming Hours Are Your Only Option?
Sometimes your only choice is to stream during busy streaming hours. This means more competition, including competition from the most popular streamers.
As you can’t rely on the time slot to gain an audience, you must try to make your stream stand out in unconventional ways. You can wear eye-catching outfits, act with enthusiasm on stream, invite viewers to play with you, do giveaways, basically anything to set yourself apart from the crowd. It’s not guaranteed to work, but if streaming during busy hours is your only option, it’s worth a try.
Finding the best time to stream has less to do with following rules and more with improvisation. The best thing you can do is experiment with different time slots until you find one that works for you and then optimize in line with the ideas in this article. Good luck and happy streaming!
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