E LEAGUE FORMAT CHANGE BEATS ENGLISH PREMIER LEAGUE IN WEEK 2
TNL Take: Turner has learned a lot from E LEAGUES inaugural run and Season 2's ratings are beginning to reflect that.
Through the first two weeks of this Season, E LEAGUE is trending higher than the first:
What's even more astonishing was when I looked at the Live Sports Events for this past Friday:
E LEAGUE'S Viewership was higher than an English Premier League game between Liverpool and Chelsea.
What's been done differently to affect this change?
In my first analysis of E LEAGUE in The Next Level 009, there were 4 areas I recommended for Season 2. The initial four are below along with the results:
/01 Pre-Launch Content: Turner created a ton of player, team, and fun video content during the Week 1 launch. Twitter and Periscope were used for Behind the Scenes. But why release it so late? Start seeding this much earlier.
SEASON 2: Meh. While a bit of content was released there's so much more that could have been done here.
/02 Marketing: I live in NYC and have been actively looking for E League ads. I have seen a grand total of 1 — and that happened just this week. I’ve seen promo’s on Twitch and Reddit — but Turner already has that audience. Just using the NCAA Tournament and NBA Playoffs would have been a prime opportunity to pump the messaging. Hope to see more branding and cross-promotion across Turner’s brands. Here’s a Free one E League Marketing Team: Use Adult Swim-type promo’s. It’s perfect for this audience.
SEASON 2: Fail. Granted with MLB being the main Sport on TBS right now and the Baseball Viewer's Average Age being equivalent to an eSports viewer's Grandfather, that wouldn't work. However it seems like Turner scaled back the Marketing even further.
/03 New Game: I believe Season 2 will showcase another title and I’m hoping its not a Shooter. Outside of the violent issues with brand partnerships, other genres may perform better. I love fighters like Street Fighter V but it doesn’t draw huge numbers. The sleeper hit and the closest to Poker? Hearthstone. While the learning curve is much greater than Counter-Strike and not nearly as visceral, it’s highly popular and draws digital viewers. If anyone can make it exciting, it can be Turner.
SEASON 2: Yes, Turner did announce an Overwatch tournament but it has no bearing on E LEAGUE's current ratings as it's all Counter-Strike. Also notice how quickly things move in eSports as Overwatch was just released when Season 1 started.
/04 Time Slot: We’ve seen how eSports perform on the worst day and worst time of the week. Give it a shot at a better time. How about Sunday afternoons? This audience wasn’t even born when Back to the Future Part 3 was released. Just try it.
SEASON 2: Ding, ding, ding, Now we've got the Winner.
Not so much the time slot - but a full revamping of the schedule and format. Here are the big changes:
/01 SHORTER LENGTH
The first two weeks featured 1-hour "highlight" shows of the European and North American preliminary rounds with Week 1 beating Season 1's Finals and Week 2 almost equaling Season 1's record of 386,000 Total Viewers.
Naturally the NA highlight show also performed much better.
I wouldn't be surprised if the regular Group Stage rounds were reduced to two hours from last Season's three.
/02 SHORTER WEEKLY SCHEDULE
E LEAGUE's Season 2 is almost half of Season 1. For example, in Season 1 the Group stages were:
(3) Days on Twitch X 7 Hours Each = 21 Hours + (1) Day on Tbs X 3 Hours = 24 Hours TOTAL
In Season 2, the Group A Stage is now only two days instead of four with the times unspecified in the Press Release unlike Season 1.
That's also a big loss of inventory for Twitch...and speaks volumes.
/03 SHORTER OVERALL SCHEDULE
Season 1 was 10 weeks including a Bye week.
Season 2 is 7 weeks, with a month off and the Quarter-Finals, Semi-Finals and Finals all occurring in the week.
While this may help ratings as well, this clearly benefits the teams.
So what's been the theme of the changes?
Shorter, shorter and shorter.
There was way too much Counter-Strike content on in Season 1 and particularly against the other competing Counter-Strike Leagues and Turner isn't making the same mistake again.