Twitch Top 10 Week of Nov 6th: League Stays On Top

TWITCH TOP 10 WEEK OF NOV 6TH: LEAGUE STAYS ON TOP

Doublelift Back and Boosting the League Numbers (Photo: CLICKON eSports)

Doublelift Back and Boosting the League Numbers (Photo: CLICKON eSports)

By Feature Writer Jordan Fragen

TNL Take: Welcome back! Every week, The Next Level dives into the past week’s Top 10 Games on Twitch to bring you the key storylines behind the data. Last week, we dove into the League of Legends World Championship, the potential cracks in PUBG’s armor, and whether Overwatch’s World Cup pointed to success for OWL.

Twitch Top 10: Week of Nov 6th (Infographic: Waypoint Media)

Twitch Top 10: Week of Nov 6th (Infographic: Waypoint Media)

Waypoint Media is the leader in Esports and gaming audience data. They support clients like Nielsen in their efforts to understand the Esports audience. Reach them at info@waypointmedia.com.


Worlds Maybe Over, but League Stays on Top

Frankly it was initially surprising to see League hold the top spot in such dominant fashion. Despite being the first week of the official off-season, League of Legends was watched for almost double the amount of hours of PUBG despite the fact that both games were streamed for roughly the same number of hours.

However the data suggests that the offseason itself is responsible for League of Legend’s dominance. The majority of the streamers responsible for the most viewer hours were pros. Out of the top 10 channels, 8 were current or former pros.

Pros Streaming League of Legends (Graphic: Waypoint Media)

Pros Streaming League of Legends (Graphic: Waypoint Media)

Without Worlds keeping fans up at all hours of the night and pros regaining some free time, fans flocked to their favorite personalities in droves. Alone, these 8 top channels associated with pros earned over 5.9M viewer hours, nearly ⅓ of all the hours fans spent watching League of Legends in the last week.

Beyond showing the importance of players’ personalities, this data shows that esports provide a meaningful platform for talent discovery. Imaqtpie, Yoda, Dyrus, and Shiphtur are all former LCS stars, but have turned that success into a second career of streaming. In fact, 3 of these 4 all belong to Echo Fox’s memtastic challenger series team Delta Fox. The team’s stated strategy was to acquire the top streaming talent for their challenger roster so it would generate meaningful revenue. Given that these stars are still pulling in the number, it seems to have paid off.

 

Overwatch League’s Momentum Carried Over Another Week

In last week’s article, we discussed the importance of Overwatch’s viewership during the World Cup. Many looked to it as a barrometer for the league’s potential audience. While the numbers were not outstanding, they certainly helped to clam some of my fears about Overwatch League.

Perhaps more importantly, the excitement about the World Cup and Overwatch League appears to have carried over into this week. Despite all metrics falling from last week (except for hours streamed which rose 20%), the more important comparison is to the weeks before the World Cup.

When compared to the averages for the 4 weeks leading into the World Cup, this week saw a 45% increase in Viewer Hours, a 22% increase in Hours Streamed, a 25% increase in Average Concurrent Viewers, and a 35% increase in Unique Viewers. These numbers are still nowhere close to League, but they are the significant boost that Overwatch sorely needed.

If this becomes a trend rather than a one off boost, Overwatch League may have an extremely bright future ahead of it.

 

Dota 2 Shows the Importance of Knowing Your Audience

This year marks the start of Valve’s Dota 2 Pro Circuit which is designed to bring more organization and stability to the game. Despite this being an off-week without a major or a minor tournament, the game’s viewership held strong. Compared to last week, Viewer Hours increased 16%, Hours Streamed increased 17%, Average Concurrents increased 11%, and Unique Viewers increased 13%. The only drop was 22% lower peak concurrent viewership, but that is to be expected in a week without a tournament.

What is unexpected however, is where those numbers originated from. Unlike every other game on this list (except current obscure indie hit of the week Get Over It), the predominant language for Dota 2 was not English.

44% of the hours viewed were from Russian speaking channels. Russian channels also held their audiences attention for an average of 55 minutes longer than English channels.

While this may be unsurprising to some, it does point to the importance of looking at the metrics holistically. Should marketers want to reach an Eastern European audience, Dota 2 is currently their best bet.

Esports Entertainment Group: The Most Expensive Esports Company You've Never Heard Of

ESPORTS ENTERTAINMENT GROUP: THE MOST EXPENSIVE ESPORTS COMPANY YOU'VE NEVER HEARD OF

Esports Entertainment Group (Photo: Esports Entertainment Group)

Esports Entertainment Group (Photo: Esports Entertainment Group)

eSports Industry Guest Post 009: Tomi Kovanen is a former professional gamer with broad experience throughout the esports industry (consulting, analysis, writing, operations, etc.), having worked with the likes of ESPN, Yahoo! Sports, Turtle Entertainment and ESEA.

Two years of experience in Corporate Finance/M&A at J.P. Morgan in London. Currently a CFA candidate with a bachelor's degree in Finance.

Contact: https://about.me/tomikovanen and @lurppis on Twitter


People in the industry are fascinated by the reports of North American teams being valued in the low-to-mid eight figures, and presumed multimillion dollar sponsorship deals being announced with companies like Intel, Jack in the Box and T-Mobile. Big numbers drive further media attention, making esports, in that sense, a self-fulfilling prophecy. With tons of media attention, you would think you know about the most valuable businesses in the industry.

But what if I told you there is a company that says its main business esports betting, with a valuation that easily surpasses the combined value of both ESL and DreamHack, at the time of MTG’s acquisitions?

Furthermore, what if I told you said company were the only public esports firm? Let’s dive in.

 

BACKGROUND

Esports Entertainment Group Inc. is listed on the OTC Markets Group exchange for small companies, using an old listing of a company called Dongke Pharmaceuticals. While the listing has existed since late 2008, the company was founded in its current form in August 2014 under the name of VGambling Inc., and later renamed to Esports Entertainment Group Inc. in an SEC filing dated April 18, 2017 (notably, despite the near-identical name, the firm has nothing to do with ESEA, the pay-to-play subscription service acquired by ESL).

Since founding, Esports Entertainment has had no revenues and has been burning cash increasingly, to the tune of roughly $250K in 2015-2016 on average, mainly on paying for salaries of its management and directors, consulting services, and on marketing expenses – despite not having a product to market, yet.

 

THE BUSINESS

The Esports Entertainment’s business model is an online gambling service with mobile support. The online gambling service is yet to be launched, despite rolling promises dating all the way back to the second half of 2015, when they expected to launch it within months. In the company’s 10-K filing for 2016, Esports Entertainment planned to again launch their service in the second half of 2016 (more similar promises).

The company has not managed to put out a product as of publishing, and as of their latest 10-Q filing estimate the cost of developing, testing and launching an esports focused online gambling website at $2 million with a six-month timeline for developing and launching the site after raising the necessary funds.

In addition, the firm has plans of purchasing Grand Princess Casino in Antigua, a 62,000 square foot facility in the Caribbean, with intention to convert it into “Esports Coliseum”. The idea is to build a venue to host esports events, with a casino giving guests a chance to gamble on the games on the premises. The company estimated costs of acquiring and refurbishing the location at $14 million, with annual operating costs in the range of $6-8 million. As with the online website, the firm expects to launch the facility within six months of raising the required funding – a tight deadline for an acquisition, renovation and equipping a location.

Antigua (Photo: Kuoni)

Antigua (Photo: Kuoni)

As of March 31, 2017 the company had four employees with four hires made since, comprising social media manager, global affiliate manager, head of esports and vice president of corporate finance. In addition, Esports Entertainment has two directors – David Watt and Yan Rozum – on the payroll at $25K and $20K a year, with a previous director Shawn Erickson having left without an announcement between the March 31, 2016 and 2017 10-Q filings.

Oddly enough, the company’s filings dedicate more than 300 words to describing the citizenship by investment program of Antigua and Barbuda. It goes without saying Esports Entertainment are applying for the potential Grand Princess Casino acquisition to be considered for the CIP program. The filings go to great detail to explain the ability of family members to apply for citizenship, as well as the various benefits of visa-free travel to over 100 countries – a curious selling-point for a company presumably looking for investments on the basis of its own operations, as opposed to ability for investors to acquire a new passport.

 

OWNERSHIP, FINANCING, AND A DEFAULT

As of September 30, 2016, reported in Esports Entertainment’s 10-K for 2016, founder and CEO Grant Johnson owned 50 million shares, good for a 71.6% stake in the firm.

Second largest shareholder was Shawn Erickson with 10 million shares, which were issued to him on February 20, 2013 as he joined the company as a director. However, Erickson left the firm three months later on May 20, 2013, but continues to hold a 14.3% stake. A minor 0.1% stake belongs to Yan Rozum, who is a director in the company and CEO of Swiss Interactive Software GmbH, who have granted Esports Entertainment “an exclusive license to certain esports event wagering platforms for real money play and wagering.”

Another 100 thousand shares, good for an identical 0.1% stake, belongs to Chul Woong Lim, who is listed as the Secretary General of International e-Sports Federation (IeSF).

As of March 31, 2017 – which does not include all of the latest financing rounds – the company had $350K of cash and $115K of liabilities on their balance sheet. Last year Esports Entertainment had raised $65K in convertible notes due March 3, 2017 issued at a 7% discount and 8% interest rate, which they defaulted on despite seeming to have enough cash on hand to make the payments. As a result, the company agreed to pay an increased price of $90K in common stock. As an incentive, the company had also issued 430K warrants with a strike price of $0.14 (with share price in the $0.40's) upon issuance of the convertible. Similarly, in 2014 the company had issued a $50K note that was later converted to 700K shares.

On February 6, 2017 Esports Entertainment announced financing commitments of $850K, with Denver-based venture capital firm First Capital Ventures contributing $600K. On May 18, 2017, the company announced having closed an over-subscribed financing at $1.2 million, with high net worth individuals contributing the balance on top of First Capital’s $600K. Notably, terms of the financing were not disclosed in the press releases with no filings since. In the press release, CEO Grant Johnson stated the financing will be used to launch the gambling platform – which previously was estimated to cost $2 million – and “execute the firm’s business development strategy for the rest of 2017, including exhibiting at the world’s largest esports conferences”.

To my knowledge, there are no large esports conferences scheduled.

It is worth noting the directors have thus far been solely paid in shares and the company has a long history of dilutive share issuances beyond the previously mentioned debt conversions. In fiscal year 2015, Esports Entertainment issued 3.6 million shares for cash, 0.8 million shares for services on top of 0.9 million shares for debt conversion, on top of the pre-existing 63.3 million shares. In fiscal year 2016, the company issued 0.8 million shares for cash and 0.7 million shares for services. Through three quarters of fiscal year 2017, the company had issued over 5 million shares, bringing the total to 75.3 million shares outstanding as of March 31, 2017.

VALUATION

Lots of Money (Photo: HowStuffWorks)

Lots of Money (Photo: HowStuffWorks)

Per the information disclosed in the company’s SEC filings, Esports Entertainment is effectively a pre-revenue holding company with an idea of a future business with some pieces set, but nothing developed as of today. Curiously its share price has risen nearly 600% YTD, from the $0.20s in January and $0.70s in June, to roughly $2.50 per share – good for a market capitalization of almost $190 million despite no revenue, intellectual property or even near-term possibilities to generate revenue.

First Capital Ventures President and CEO Gary Graham stated in a press release that Esports Entertainment “represents the only pure public vehicle to investing in esports in North America, [..] an optimal esports entry point and a clear path to investor liquidity.” In reality, liquidity in the company has been limited at best and is unlikely to change soon.

While the Esports Entertainment’s market capitalization has skyrocketed from $50 million on June 20, 2017 to $190 million on August 20, 2017, the total traded volume in the period was just $100K.

In other words, the company’s stock is so illiquid that trading $100K pushed up the company’s valuation by $140 million.

To put this into perspective, more value was created by trading just over $100K worth of shares than the acquisition prices of DreamHack ($28 million at 3.5x revenue for a profitable company) and ESL (74% stake for $86 million, financials undisclosed) combined, with over $70 million to spare.

Some relevant B2C public comparable for Esports Entertainment include Betsson and Mr Green and Co, both of which are successful gambling companies listed in Sweden. The companies currently trade at an average P/E multiple of 15x this year’s earnings, which means to justify today’s public market valuation of $190 million, Esports Entertainment would need to generate over $10 million of net income.

The company is unlikely to even be able to launch its business during the calendar year as they have not raised as much as they estimated launching the gambling website would cost ($1.2 million vs. $2 million). In other words – in case it was not obvious already – it is incredibly hard to justify the firm’s current valuation, even going forward. The gambling market is lucrative with low barriers of entry, which is why it is so cut throat competitive and hard to get market share in.

 

CONCLUSION

Esports Entertainment lofty and seemingly unrealistic valuation appears to be a product of the very inefficient OTC market it is listed on, but it is unclear why the venture capital firm First Capital Ventures has poured in over $600K after proper due diligence. It is possible there is something to Esports Entertainment that does not meet the eye when simply going through the company’s filings and press releases, but it is hard to see what that could be.

To make matters worse, the company has previously defaulted on a convertible and has a tendency to issue shares liberally – making it a sketchy investment without exponential growth on what still remains a non-existing revenue base.

Given a history of failed promises for launch dates and a cash balance smaller than the estimated cost of launching the gambling site, it is unlikely Esports Entertainment can get their core business off the ground in the next six months, or without additional financing. In addition, the business plan of opening the Esports Coliseum – with estimated total costs of $14 million to get it up and running and annual operating costs of $6 million – all-year round in the Caribbean as a potential site for tournaments, with a casino attached, seems unlikely to be successful.

Today’s fans are online, and while capturing a share of the large, lucrative online gambling market could make Esports Entertainment a success, it is tough to imagine a scenario where the Esports Coliseum could be run profitably; if not only used as a carrot for investors interested in the possibility of obtaining citizenship. And again, they are trying to break into a very tough market.

Finally, any investor interested in Esports Entertainment should take a hard look at the fundamentals and business plan of the company. The market valuation means little when it has been created by $100K of traded value, and simply adding esports to one’s company name does not make it a high growth stock with unlimited future potential – something that at times seems forgotten in the current esports valuations. The company has a long way to go, and it remains unclear whether they are going to get there.

Currently their only asset appears to be the public listing itself.

Twitch Top 10 Week of Oct 30th: Did Overwatch's World Cup Succeed?

TWITCH TOP 10 WEEK OF OCT 30TH: DID OVERWATCH'S WORLD CUP SUCCEED?

2017 Overwatch World Cup (Photo: Blizzard)

2017 Overwatch World Cup (Photo: Blizzard)

By Feature Writer Jordan Fragen

Welcome back! Every Tuesday, TNL Media dives into the past week’s Top 10 Games on Twitch to bring you the key storylines behind the data. Last time, we discussed the power of major tournaments to drive viewership, one MMO’s success in community driven promotion and the unique experience of watching anime with over 500K of your closest friends.

Let’s jump right into this week’s major headlines.

Waypoint Media is the leader in Esports and gaming audience data. They support clients like Nielsen in their efforts to understand the Esports audience. Reach them at info@waypointmedia.com.

Waypoint Media is the leader in Esports and gaming audience data. They support clients like Nielsen in their efforts to understand the Esports audience. Reach them at info@waypointmedia.com.

Crowning the 2017 League of Legends World Champions

League of Legends fans filled the Bird’s Nest in Beijing (Photo: Riot Games)

League of Legends fans filled the Bird’s Nest in Beijing (Photo: Riot Games)

Oh, how the mighty have fallen. Faker may be a god at League of Legends, but that did not stop his teammates from dropping the ball over the weekend. In a shocking 0-3 loss, SKT1 was denied a Three-peat by Korean rivals Samsung Galaxy. Lead by their Mid-laner Crown and Jungler Ambition, Samsung Galaxy defied expectations and got their revenge.

Looking at the data, fans were clearly engaged by this year’s finals. Most categories were up slightly from the previous week (between 1-6%). However, Peak Concurrent Viewers surged  27% to reach 1.1M concurrents. That’s huge for both Twitch and Riot. Few streams have broken 1M concurrents on Twitch and it's only fitting to see LoL join that elite group.

Despite reaching this important milestone, most stats were down compared to the 2016 World Championships.

Total Hours Watched fell by 9%, Hours Streamed dropped by 12% and Average Concurrents sank by 10%. And perhaps most importantly, fans watched on average about an hour less this year compared to last.

Part of this is likely explained by the final series only going for 3 games instead of the full 5. Additionally, there is some good news. Unique viewers increased by 16% compared to the 2016 World Championships.

 

Fortnite has PUBG in its sights

Unless you have been living under a rock, you have probably heard of PLAYERUNKNOWN’S BATTLEGROUNDS (PUBG) and its massive success. However, the steam on this hype train may be waning ever so slightly. While most metrics have remained roughly stable (±5%) from last week, the game has generally been trending downwards since late August.

And this isn’t the case for genre rival Fortnite. Epic’s take on the battle royale genre primarily differentiates itself through its cartoon-y visuals and less serious vibe and this appears to have captured gamers attention for now. For the last 6 weeks, Fortnite has slowly taken a foothold on Twitch. While the community is smaller (4.7M unique viewers watched Fortnite vs. 7.9M for PUBG), there is huge overlap between the two.

54% of Fortnite’s viewers (~1.4M viewers) also tuned into a PUBG stream in the last 6 weeks.

There are several potential reasons for Fortnite’s rise and PUBG’s decline, but the most likely explanation is the variety Fortnite offers to PUBG. While the team at Bluehole appears to be gearing up for the Xbox One X release due out in December, PC players seem to be starving for new features. The last major gameplay feature added to the game was first-person mode way back in July. Without major variety introduced since then, viewers and streamers may simply be getting bored and restless.

It’ll take more to topple the behemoth of PUBG, but for now players seem to be branching out and experimenting.

Finally, let's get to this week's biggest story.

 

Overwatch’s World Cup proves OWL’s Potential

Early November is always a massive time for Blizzard and their games. The company’s annual convention, Blizzcon, has traditionally been the home for their annual esports championships. Hearthstone performed well despite holding an invitational tournament rather than its championship, but it was not the main event.

With the Overwatch League’s January 10th start date looming, all eyes were on this year’s World Cup as a de facto pilot test. Armed with a slew of brand new spectating features and the world’s top talent, this past weekend was a critical test for the ambitions of Activision Blizzard and CEO Bobby Kotick.

So how did the hero shooter do?

 
 

Considering how underwhelming Overwatch’s past performance has been, this week was a rousing success.

While there is still a lot of room for improvement, the World Cup managed to reach 1.5M unique viewers and a Peak Concurrent Viewership of 325K. Hours Watched for the previous 4 weeks averaged at about 2.5M hours so this week’s 5.7M hours is an increase of roughly 130%.

Time will tell if this success continues, but the future is certainly looking a touch brighter for the Overwatch League.

NBA 2K League Panel Video

NBA 2K LEAGUE PANEL VIDEO

NBA 2K League Panel Presented by The Next Level (Photo: The Next Level)

NBA 2K League Panel Presented by The Next Level (Photo: The Next Level)

TNL Take: Last week at the TEAMS Conference in Orlando, The Next Level presented a NBA 2K League eSports panel with NBA executives and those directly on the front lines with their teams.

A few of the topics that we covered:

  • Why are the NBA and 2K doing this?
  • We’ve seen the 1st announcement with the 76ers and Blue Cross as their first brand sponsor for the 2K team. What sponsor categories are going to be most active in this league and who will it be open to?
  • What are the Celtics, Jazz and Wizards going to do differently to pull ahead in the 2K League?
  • Viewers are now going to be asked to watch a “digital Dan from Dallas.” How’s the NBA addressing this issue of getting viewers to watch unknown eSports athletes?
  • With the announcements of the NALCS franchising and OWL league spots, how do you think that this will help the 2k League start with a very heavy presence of NBA teams in those leagues?
  • How will the draft be executed and will trades be allowed?
NBA 2K League Panel Presented by The Next Level (Photo: Rahat Ahmed)

NBA 2K League Panel Presented by The Next Level (Photo: Rahat Ahmed)