Call Of Duty eSports Real Viewership


Call of Duty XP 2016 (Photo: MLG)

TNL Take: Last Sunday, Activision held their massive Call of Duty XP Event at the Forum in Ingelwood showcasing the Call of Duty World League Championship.

Activision has made a slew of Media hires over the past year, with Executives from ESPN, NFL, Univision and Fox Sports. I've already covered CEO Bobby Kotick's vision for estimated revenue derived from eSports Media rights.

After spending millions on the event - I know what it costs to just get Snoop and Wiz to perform - Activision released Viewership data.

Let's take a look at what the PR really meant.

Call of Duty 2016 Champions Team EnVyUs (Photo: MLG)


It sure as hell better have been.

This boils down to two reasons.

If you believe in the growth of eSports, there should be a natural, linear increase in Media consumption. So that's easy.

The second factor is more important: Distribution.

Prior to Activision's purchase of Major League Gaming, Call of Duty was only on the platform which wasn't close to Twitch in scale.

Now add Twitch + YouTube + PS4 In Game Viewer + and it's just math on why viewership is higher.



Vanity Metric #1 and see point /01.



Vanity Metric #2.



Ok now we're getting somewhere.

In one of the first things I wrote back in May in The Next Level 005, I analyzed Activision/MLG's Counter-Strike Event against MLB's Opening Day. In that analysis, I used 50% for International audience %:

MLG vs. MLB (Photo: The Next Level)

Granted that's Counter-Strike and Call of Duty definitely skews more US; but the ~50% International Audience is a fair baseline overall. One of the Finals teams, Splyce, also came through via the EU side.

Outside of verifying my own estimates, I was befuddled why Activision would make that figure public. It essentially says that at least half their viewing audience is useless to US Brands.

Then it hit me. 

Broadcast rights. 

If Drone Racing League can get a $1M investment from Sky and also be shown on ESPN, how much is Call of Duty World League worth to just one European broadcaster like Ginx?

I need to dig deeper on that.

Also, I covered why I believe eSports is currently a greater Media opportunity - and will also be going forward - vs. Drone Racing in The Next Level 026.

Now I get some data.



Obviously Activision didn't release these figures but I'm going to give them to you.

I've talked ad nauseum about why "Average Concurrent Viewers" is the best true measure of Viewership but here's the first overview if needed.

As I mentioned, the Championship Event was broadcast on multiple platforms but I'm only going to use Twitch to get a relatively fair comparison against Turner's E LEAGUE.

My Twitch data for the Championship Grand Finals maxed at 128K, which is inline with this Reddit user's data on multiple platforms showing 132K on Twitch.

Call of Duty Championship Streaming Viewership (Photo: Reddit)

Based on my same Twitch data, the Average Concurrent Viewers for the Grand Finals was actually 62K.

Now here's the interesting part when you compare that figure against E LEAGUE:

E LEAGUE Season 1 Twitch Viewership (Graphic: The Next Level)

E LEAGUE's Finals, which were not only broadcast on Twitch but also Twitter and TBS on a Saturday afternoon, did almost double the viewership of Call of Duty's Grand Finals.

Overall, I'm going to spend more time looking into Activision further because there's one thing that's striking to me:


You're starting to see the early transformation of Activision eSports from a Marketing vehicle to a Media platform.


If you don't believe me watch Moneyball again.

Activision CEO Bobby Kotick in Moneyball (Photo: Columbia Pictures)