PS5 vs Xbox Series X: Which console had the better launch stream numbers?

Lurkit Team
January 21, 2021

In late 2020, we saw the infamous console wars continue, as Sony released the PlayStation 5, while Microsoft released the Xbox Series X and S. As always, it was a battle of supremacy between the two, with both companies doing all they can to encourage gamers to join their side. 

Both consoles were released in November, with Microsoft getting a small headstart, releasing on the 10th, while the PlayStation was released on the 19th. Regardless, both were still huge successes, selling millions of copies worldwide, with the one key issue being a limitation of stock due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

Still, both companies can be happy with their results so far, much of which can be attributed to the use of live streams to promote their products. Both Sony and Microsoft utilized streams coming up to the release and during the release itself to draw in even more attention from their target market. 

Let’s take a look at just how these streams performed and which company seemed to hype up the gaming market the most. 

xbox showcase

The pre-launch showcase

As is tradition, the build-up to each console release saw both companies fire up showcase streams - broadcasts where they show off some of the most notable games coming to their consoles, and possibly even a bit about the consoles themselves. 

Surprisingly enough, these were massively more popular than the launch day streams and saw some huge numbers. Although this is possibly because new games were revealed for the first time and on the actual launch day, people were trying to purchase or play their consoles. 

You can find some of the notable pre-launch showcase Twitch numbers below:

PlayStation 5

  • Average concurrent viewers: 203,180
  • Peak viewers: 386,631
  • Views to date: 1,439,880

Xbox Series X

  • Average concurrent viewers: 148,542
  • Peak viewers: 250,892
  • Views to date: 330,739

This shows both consoles had very strong viewership during the live broadcast, although Sony did perform quite a lot better, especially when it comes to the peak viewership and views to date. 

The massive views to date gap likely comes from Sony’s stronger performance and implied greater popularity, as well as the fact that Microsoft also uploaded their stream to YouTube, while the Twitch VoD was the main way to catch up with Sony’s pre-launch showcase. 

ps5 showcase

Console launch day streams 

Unfortunately due to the coronavirus, it was impossible to see the usual launch day streams from either company. Multiple restrictions meant getting a group of people to present and talk about the consoles in person like usual couldn’t happen, and Sony and Microsoft ended up taking entirely different approaches to the launch day. 

The Xbox launch celebration ended up being a minor one, with the main Xbox Twitch channel drawing in a minor crowd, barely 1/10th of the pre-launch showcase. However, there was some pull on their YouTube channel, which has generated almost 1 million views to date, but the exact live numbers are impossible to obtain. 

Meanwhile, it was basically silence from Sony on their launch. They had just one small YouTube stream and the majority of launch day content seems to have come from influencers. It’s difficult to even judge if this was a paid influencer marketing campaign, or Sony simply relied on content to build up the hype anyway. 

Let’s take a quick look at the overall numbers for the launch day streams:


PlayStation 5

  • Views to date (YouTube): 159,000

Xbox Series X

  • Average concurrent viewers: 8,777
  • Peak viewers: 15,254
  • Views to date (Twitch): 242,538
  • Views to date (YouTube): 933,165

As you can see, the actual launch day tells a completely different story than the pre-launch showcases. Microsoft absolutely blew away Sony on their launch, generating over 1 million viewers to date. Even their small live stream is huge in comparison to a complete lack of Twitch content by Sony. 

However, it’s also clear that both companies didn’t perform nearly as well as the pre-launch showcases, with viewership all across the board paling in comparison. There are a few explanations for this, from users wanting to actually purchase or use their consoles, to the lack of possibility of creating a big live event. 

Sony’s approach to the launch is also interesting to look at, considering there was no real official presence. They may have simply left it up to the fans to create content and promote the launch, which definitely did happen - even a quick look at YouTube shows hundreds of videos about the launch, some with tens of millions of views. However, the same can be said for the Xbox launch and Microsoft included a variety of launch day celebration broadcasts on top of that. 

xbox launch art

How did the consoles perform in sales? 

Despite a lacking launch presence, the PS5 seems to have come out on top in sales. A techspot report shows that the PlayStation 5 has almost twice the sales of the Xbox Series X and is more popular in the vast majority of countries. 

Of course, there’s a ton more to sales than just their launch day broadcasts, including the consoles themselves, marketing, the games available, and much more. However, the PS5 is the clear winner so far. 

Overall though, the PlayStation 5 had a much bigger wave of popularity going into the launch day thanks to a successful pre-launch showcase, however, disappointed when it came to the launch day content. The Xbox Series X was the complete opposite to this, and was more popular on the launch day, company content-wise anyway. 

Considering the strategy of both companies, when it comes to online content, it’ll be interesting to see how they adapt for the next releases. Will both decide to invest more in a launch day event, considering the success of the pre-launch showcases. Or will the success of the PS5 prove that the way forward may just be relying on the fanbases user-generated content? 

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