TNL Take: Why is there a picture of the NCAA tournament? We'll get to that below.
Let's jump right in and look at the final esports TV ratings for Q1 2018:
This past week saw ELEAGUE surge into the #1 slot with 413,000 viewers for Episode 2 of their shoulder content "Tekken Team Takedown". When did the show air on the East Coast? 1:50AM.
How did ELEAGUE see such great performance?
Well I slipped on a crucial datapoint - the NCAA tournament lead in programming - as mentioned by former The Next Level analyst Jordan Fragen.
The late night game between Purdue and Texas Tech starting at 10PM garnered 2.7M people and the post game show at 12:40AM brought in 1.4M viewers; which equals 50% retention from show-to-show.
What's interesting is that from the Post Game Show to "Tekken Team Takedown" had a viewer retention rate of 30% - 1.4M viewers to 413K. The 413K viewers would have been the #1 rated ELEAGUE show for the past 2 years also beating last year's Street Fighter V Finals.
This is to take nothing away from the production value of the show or the rabid FGC community but a huge lead in definitely helps.
Was that Tekken/ELEAGUE fans staying up to watch it at that late slot (probably some) or was it a new audience coming in from the NCAA tournament (probably more so)?
If it was more likely the latter, this bodes well for future esports shoulder content on TV helping to find new viewership.
For those willing to experiment.
Unfortunately no data available for Madden's Ultimate League debut on Disney XD which started in February and runs through April.
There have been ~8 episodes that have aired and last year Disney XD aired 60+ esports episodes across a wide variety of content. Those 60+ shows generated an average of ~100,000 viewers per episode; so taking a rough guess, Madden Ultimate League is probably in the ballpark but would need definitive Nielsen data for confirmation.