Stream Hatchet – the data analytics arm for streaming and gaming of the Canadian company Engine Media – has released its industry trend report for 2020. Like home fitness, e-sports appears to have gotten a big boost from the Covid-19 pandemic. According to Stream Hatchet’s CEO, Eduard Montserrat, “video games and e-sports have taken a huge step in popular culture. When much of the live entertainment world went dark, streaming platforms were able to captivate audiences.” In 2020, says Stream Hatchet, not only did the first-quarter start of the pandemic cause a second-quarter surge in streaming, but no drop-off ensued – despite the return to television of physical sports and other expansions of “online and on TV entertainment options.” By the end of last year e-sports streaming had increased by 69 percent from 2019 and by 81 percent from 2018. Part of the story, notes Engine Media’s executive chairman, Tom Rogers, is the streaming use of gaming platforms by traditional television networks, as these “channels with older audiences are seeking to reach interested younger viewers.” But there’s also the matter of American politics, which accounted for much of the traffic. The streaming platform Twitch, for instance, launched a politics category last February and ended up doubling its fourth-quarter “watch hours” to 5.4 billion from 2019 to 2020. Also continuing to rise was mobile gaming. As for the games themselves, League of Legends has supplanted the mighty Fortnite as the most popular videogame in live streaming, with nearly two billion hours watched.