Q1 2017 ESPORTS TV RATINGS
TNL Take: Yesterday, we looked at the big increase in Brands investing in eSports in Q1. This is across digital platforms, events, team and player sponsorships and a slew of other options.
Now let’s see how eSports performed on TV.
Outside of ELEAGUE’s Counter-Strike Major and it's first fighting event with Street Fighter, almost all Q1 programming was basically sports, EA Madden NFL and EA FIFA.
I believe in the Fighting Genre for eSports for two reasons: I love it and more importantly, a child can understand the game. You need a physics degree to watch a game like League of Legends if you’ve never watched it before.
FYI: Two-time college champion for Street Fighter 2 on Super Nintendo Entertainment System. #BringIt
The #1 viewed eSports program in 2016 was Mortal Kombat, a fighting game which went against the Grammy’s no less. ESPN's EVO Championship, another fighting tournament, had more viewers than 10 Counter-Strike events including their Season 2 Finals.
Why did this past Friday’s viewership of ELEAGUE’s Street Fighter event only get 200,000 total viewers - about 30% less than the Average Total Viewership for both Counter-Strike seasons?
Why did it only beat the Madden Bowl on the NFL Network by only 5% when TBS is in ~15M more households?
Why did the Madden Challenge get 91,000 viewers which would have made it almost the lowest viewed eSports event in the last two years?
Why do we park on driveways and drive on parkways?
I don’t nor do I believe anyone else has a definitive answer to any of these questions but I’ll take a few stabs:
1/ TIME SLOTS
Friday at 10PM is “the graveyard for TV programming”. I’ve said this numerous times and there’s no way TBS is going to put eSports on Prime Time where they generate millions in ad revenue. Re-runs of "The Big Bang Theory draws' a much larger audience and Turner Ad Sales doesn't need to explain anything to sell it.
The Madden Challenge on the NFL Network was not only on Sunday night – the most popular TV viewing day – but at 9PM going against "The Walking Dead", MLB Opening Weekend, and "Keeping Up With The Kardashians" - don't lie, I know you watch it
So ELEAGUE Street Fighter at the worst time and EA Madden against serious competition.
Not a good formula.
2/ TOO MUCH CONTENT
Friday’s televised event was the culmination of a several days of live streamed Street Fighter content. After hours of programming, more than likely only the hardcore fans wanted to watch the Finals at 10PM on a Friday night.
Further, there was also League of Legends on Twitch – which kills it in viewership every time – Gears of War tournament, Madden and ESL Counter-Strike Pro-League on YouTube.
Yet for all the millions Turner poured into the studio – which looked absolutely amazing – the marketing and the continual press; the Street Fighter event ranked as the #17 watched show out of the 19 eSports programs Turner has put on.
3/ MADDEN VS. PROGRAMMING
This is the most curious one for me. Lot’s of people have said Sports eSports won’t work – I’ve even said it.
But the NFL has been around for decades, instantly recognizable and I’d bet more people know who Julio Jones is than Blanka – that’s a character in Street Fighter BTW.
So should have Madden done better?
Madden at 9PM was going against some of the most top rated shows and events on Sunday on a smaller scale sports channel - so not expected.
But why couldn't it have been put on earlier when the NFL Network was basically showing nothing?
I'll leave with this stat which I think is interesting. Although ELEAGUE's Street Fighter may have "only' gotten 200,000 Viewers look at both Total and 18-49 vs. the MLS:
Pretty much dead even for 18-49 viewers although demo's would be different.
But in a mantra I'll continue to say:
I don't care about the next 12 months. I care about the next 12 years.