Twitch Beats TV Viewership For ELEAGUE's Major



ELEAGUE Major Finals (Photo: Turner Sports)

TNL Take: Before we even get into the data, let's take a moment to reflect.

It was just 16 months ago that Turner made the announcement to invest in eSports and there was a lot of snickering at that statement.

In 2016 we saw 50+ Non-Endemic Brand eSports Sponsorships - with ELEAGUE garnering Arby's, Buffalo Wild Wings, Credit Karma, Snickers and Domino's - 30+ Pro Sports Team investing and 20+ TV programming events.

There isn't too much laughing now.

This past weekend's ELEAGUE Major featuring the top Counter-Strike teams from around the world shows how far Turner has come in such a short amount of time.

Let me be crystal clear: The Production was amazing. The casters and commentary was stellar. The fan excitement was palpable. The matches were thrilling. The back stories, B-roll and between-game footage was not only funny, but interesting.

Huge kudos to the Turner and ELEAGUE teams for putting on a great event.

ELEAGUE Major Finals (Photo: Turner Sports)

Now the numbers.

A 7AM Pacific start time isn't great for the California kids who partied on Saturday night and was definitely reflected in the TV Ratings (however this was smart timing for the European market, whereas the Finals teams were from Denmark and Russia and tapped into Europe's huge Counter-Strike fanbase).

ELEAGUE Major TV Ratings vs. 2016 (Infographic: The Next Level)

ELEAGUE Major reached 228,000 Total Viewers and 144,000 in the 18-49 Demo and would have ranked #8 among the 18 eSports programs that Turner has run.

While it may look like the ELEAGUE Major wasn't that successful from a TV perspective - it didn't beat EVO which had folding chairs on stage? - there's something bigger happening here.

Outside of the amazing matches, the biggest story to come out was that the single-channel Twitch peak viewership record of 890,000 Viewers was broken with 1M+ Viewers.

However, this is a Peak Viewer number for 1 moment in time and not an Average Concurrent Viewer metric across the ~5 hour event.

Average Concurrent Viewers is the closest apples-to-apples comparison to analyze against TV/Nielsen Ratings - however this metric is usually never released.

But I'm going to do that now.

I looked at the Peak Viewership at 15min intervals during the Major from 10:00 AM to 3:00PM.

Here's what that looks like:

ELEAGUE Major Peak Viewership At 15Min Intervals (Photo: The Next Level)

I'm not including the Y Axis to keep the details hidden but you can clearly see the 1M+ Peak Viewers around 2:45PM when Danish eSports team Astralis won.

Since the Average Concurrent Viewer data wasn't revealed, the closest estimate is to take the Average of the Peak Concurrents at each 15Min interval. That gives us approximately ~675,000 viewers.

Although the ELEAGUE Major was shown on different language streams on Twitch, there is still a large International Viewer % on the main channel. To be conservative, let's remove 50% of that audience, which is fairly standard for Counter-Strike's audience composition.

50% of ~675,000 leaves ELEAGUE major with 337,500 for US ONLY Average Concurrent Viewers - or essentially Nielsen/TV Ratings.

Now let's include the Twitch US Viewership along with TBS's ELEAGUE Major TV Ratings along with additional Sports programming for Sunday:

ELEAGUE Major TV and Twitch vs Sports (Photo: The next level)

Not only did Twitch beat TV in Viewership, the 18-49 Twitch US audience beat the Farmers Insurance Open and was close to both the FA Cup and Australian Open Men's Finals (The Twitch 18-49 Demo % is an estimate).

So what's this tell us?

For the millionth time, eSports doesn't need TV, TV needs eSports. However, to keep the estimated $2M price tag for ELEAGUE Brand Sponsorships, you need TV programming to garner those types of Ad budgets.

I believe that 2017 will be a pivotal year for eSports broadcast rights and Exclusivities.

We've got a long way to go for eSports to be in the same conversation as other Sports Leagues in terms of Revenue and Viewership - but things are looking good.