Twitch Top 10: Week of December 11th

By Feature Writer Jordan Fragen

TNL Take: Welcome back! This is The Next Level’s take behind the key storylines behind the Top 10 Games on Twitch. Last week we looked at the reasons why fans flocked back to PUBG, the explosive growth in Hearthstone viewers after the release of the game’s latest expansion, and how CWL launched Call of Duty: WWII back into the top 10 for the first week since it launched in November.

Now, let’s explore the top headlines from the week of December 11th through the 17th.

Twitch Top 10 Week of Dec 11th: DotA 2, Overwatch and PUBG (Chart: Waypoint Media)

Twitch Top 10 Week of Dec 11th: DotA 2, Overwatch and PUBG (Chart: Waypoint Media)

Thank you once again to our data partner, Waypoint Media. They are 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.


You Can Thank One of the Most Unique Tournaments in Esports for Dota 2’s Rise

Behind the scenes at the 8th Dota 2 Summit (Photo: Beyond the Summit)

Behind the scenes at the 8th Dota 2 Summit (Photo: Beyond the Summit)

Dota 2’s community continues to be one of the most unique in esports. Despite the attention the International brings every July, the game tends to remain in League of Legends’ shadow for the rest of the year, particularly when it comes to viewership on Twitch. It also remains uniquely dominated by international viewership as we pointed out in a previous Twitch Top 10.

However, this week saw a modest rise in hours and placement for Valve’s MOBA. Compared to the previous week, Dota 2 saw a 6% increase in Total Hours Watched and moved up a place. More importantly, there was a 231% increase in Peak Viewership and an 85% increase in Unique Viewers reached from last week.

So where did this influx of new viewers come from?

This weekend saw the 8th installment of the DOTA Summit from organizers Beyond the Summit. Rather than mimic the glitz and stadium-filling crowds esports has grown used to, BtS bucks this trend and instead holds all of their tournaments in a house with all players sleeping over. The goofiness doesn’t stop there. In addition to hard hitting esports action, fans are treated to skits and board games featuring their favorite players.

This unique take on an esports tournament serves to better humanize the players and show of their personalities. The numbers add support to this, showing the power this format has to draw in casual fans.

 

Overwatch Draws Fans Back After the Preseason Exodus

Overwatch League's Preseason drew viewers to Activision-Blizzard owned MLG.tv (Photo: OWL)

Overwatch League's Preseason drew viewers to Activision-Blizzard owned MLG.tv (Photo: OWL)

In a move that surprised almost no one, Blizzard has decided to remain protective of the Overwatch League and only air OWL games on Activision-Blizzard owned MLG.tv for the preseason. While this move makes tracking accurate data for the preseason games (and presumably the season once it starts) difficult, we can extrapolate how successful Blizzard was in migrating the audience over to its other platforms based on this week’s Twitch data.

Compared to last week, Overwatch saw a 21% increase in Total Hours Watched, a 12% increase in Hours Streamed, a stunning 325% increase in peak concurrents, a 110% increase in Unique viewers and a marginal 4% increase in hours consumed per unique viewer. The only stat that fell was average concurrent viewers (a drop of 43%) presumably due to viewers spreading out their viewing across multiple channels.

While it will be difficult to quantify just how many viewers Blizzard managed to drive to MLG.tv, the trends clearly point to a massive surge in viewership back to Twitch now that there is a lull in OWL content.

 

PUBG’s Biggest Star is Taking a Break. Has His Absence Affected Viewership?

Dr. Disrespect's Indefinite Absence Could Have Lasting Consequences on PUBG Viewership (Photo: Aftonbladet)

Dr. Disrespect's Indefinite Absence Could Have Lasting Consequences on PUBG Viewership (Photo: Aftonbladet)

Last week, PUBG managed to reclaim some of its dominance in the Battle Royale genre. With newcommer Fortnite looking to innovate in the nascent genre, PUBG needed new content to reignite viewer interest.

With the new desert map and the soft launch onto Xbox One, PUBG managed to reclaim some ground in the on-going Battle Royale war. However, fans were hit with a bombshell this week that could see long lasting consequences in Twitch viewership.

Dr. Disrespect shocked fans this week by streaming out of character, admitting to marital infidelity and announcing a break from streaming to work on these problems.

With the game’s biggest star out of the running, how did it affect PUBG’s viewership?

PUBG saw a 16% decrease in Total Hours Watched this week but saw a huge increase of 69% in Unique Viewers Reached. While Shroud continues to be the go-to streamer for PUBG, Dr. Disrespect drove over 400K Hours watched and over 690K unique viewers.

 

So for now, the answer seems to be no but next week will more accurately foreshadow the impact of the Doc’s absence from the scene.

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.

Twitch Top 10 Week Of Oct 23rd: Tournaments Galore

TWITCH TOP 10 WEEK OF OCT 23RD: TOURNAMENTS GALORE

ESL.jpg

By Feature Writer Jordan Fragen

 

TNL Take: It’s that time of the week once again. Welcome to our breakdown of the stories behind this past week’s top 10 games on Twitch. 

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


This week was stuffed to the brim for esports fans. Beyond the penultimate weekend of the League of Legends World Championship, both CS:GO’s EPICENTER and DotA 2’s ESL ONE Hamburg took place; and these tournaments secured these games 1st, 3rd, and 4th respectively on our list. Let’s take a look at each one individually to provide a bit more context.

 

LEAGUE OF LEGENDS WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP 2017

Poor China. Despite hosting the tournament and the fans cheering hard for their hometown teams, both RNG and Team WE fell to the Korean juggernauts.

While League took the top spot in dominant fashion, the numbers did fall compared to the previous week. Total hours watched fell by 15%, unique viewers by 2% and viewer hours per unique by 12%. Some of this can probably be linked to fewer matches being played and the resulting shorter broadcasts from Riot.

The 5% increase in peak viewership from last week supports this theory. One way Riot could address this next year is to hold both semifinals matches on the same day to better concentrate viewership, but for obvious reasons ticket sales would suffer. We’ll see next year how they chooses to address this.

 

COUNTER-STRIKE: EPICENTER

Counter-Strike: Global Offensive remains a unique game in the world of esports. Unlike MOBAs and Real-Time Strategy games, CSGO’s dominant teams tend to hail from Europe and more recently Brazil. EPICENTER perfectly encapsulated this regionality both in the teams who played and the location of the tournament itself. Held in St. Petersberg, the tournament was dominated by the excellence of European and CIS teams... with one major exception.

Since 2015, the SK Gaming roster has paved the way for a Brazilian renaissance in Counter-Strike. Lead by the legendary FalleN, the team took the tournament in a close match with Virtus.Pro. Along with their victory, SK also claimed the #1 spot on HLTV’s widely used CSGO rankings, making them the current #1 team in the world.

This tournament drastically improved CS:GO’s numbers compared to last week. Viewer Hours increased by 110%, Average Concurrents by 122%, and Peak Concurrents by a whopping 300%.

This is not only due to a larger audience from last week (Unique Viewers increased by 22%) but each of these viewers also watched 75 minutes more on average. This shows the power of esports to concentrate and drive viewers to tune in.

 

ESL ONE HAMBURG

In earlier years, DotA 2 has struggled to maintain interest leading up to the International each July. Despite insane viewership and prize money each July, a dearth of tournaments leading up to it often created confusion for casual viewers and instability for players. Valve aims to change that this year with the Pro Circuit and ESL One was the first of the 11 planned majors.

Despite falling from 4th last week, DotA 2’s numbers are up. Viewer Hours Increased by 20%, Average Concurrents by 25%, and Peak Concurrents by 46%. Similar to CS:GO some of this is due to a larger number of viewers tuning in (Uniques were up by 8%) and each of those viewers tuning in for an additional 27 minutes on average.

However, perhaps the largest success of the tournament was its effective sponsorship integration. Mercedes Benz was the headline sponsor for the tournament and brands and agencies should take note: This is a perfect case study on how to correctly sponsor an epsorts tournament.

The execution was phenomenal for being both logical and on-brand. Beyond customizing a car for each team (that they could use for the weekend) and elaborate intro videos prominently featuring their product, Mercedes also allowed fans to vote via Twitter DM for their tournament MVP. Virtus.pro’s Solo ended up taking home the vote and a brand new Mercedes worth $50K.

The Auto category has grown astronomically in 2017 and this showcases exactly why.

 

WARFRAME SHOWS THE POWER OF COMMUNITY DRIVEN PROMOTION

Quick flashback to last week: Out of nowhere, Warframe rocketed to 7th on the rankings. The game’s Plains of Eidolon expansion was released and publisher Digital Extreme looked to reward fans for tuning into their favorite streamers with in-game loot. We contrasted this with South Park who adopted the more straight forward strategy of sponsoring Twitch’s Top talent to play the game.

Guess which of these two games managed to stay on the list?

While Warframe certainly had the advantage of a dedicated fanbase, the company’s promo certainly appears to have helped keep fans interested. While the number are down from last week (about a 5% drop for Viewer Hours, Hours Streamed and Average Concurrents, 36% for Peak Concurrents, and 42% fewer Unique Viewers), this is likely due to more casual fans dropping off. However, the dedication among the hard core fanbase shows; on average viewers watched almost 2 hours more than last week.


 

BINGE WATCHING TAKES A WHOLE NEW MEANING ON TWITCH

This past week, Twitch began a two week long marathon showing all 236 episodes of Yugioh. For those of you who didn’t grow up in the late '90's/early 00’s, Yuigoh is an anime based on a trading card game that ran for 236 episodes. It never reached the massive popularity of Pokémon, although it definitely tried. The english dub was made by the same company and it has reached a level of meme-ery unlike almost any series.

Twitch is known for its experimentation and in July it ran its first anime marathon which was a huge success. Love it or hate it, the real time reactions of Twitch Chat make viewing non-interactive media like TV-shows a community experience.

But the only thing Twitch chat likes more than being hyper reactive is memes.

From the over-the-top voice acting and the terrible game play decisions of the protagonist, Twitch chat fully embraced the silliness of this 90s classic. Reaching 525K viewers for an average of 3 hours each, the marathon managed to take the 10th spot on the list.

For brands looking to get into esports, understanding the humor and tastes of Twitch are of the utmost importance. Anime plays a critical role in these tastes and the industry has taken note. The two largest OTT services for anime already sponsor teams Cloud9 and Panda Global.

Consider tuning into the second half of the marathon this week to get a glimpse for yourself.

Asia, Europe Ahead Of The US In Collegiate eSports - Part 1

ASIA, EUROPE AHEAD OF THE US IN COLLEGIATE ESPORTS

PART 1

League Of Legends International Collegiate Championship (Photo: Garena)

League Of Legends International Collegiate Championship (Photo: Garena)

TNL Infographic 015: 2017 Collegiate eSports Report (Infographic: 015)

TNL Infographic 015: 2017 Collegiate eSports Report (Infographic: 015)

While the year was ending with 15 confirmed schools giving out eSports scholarships via tuition assistance and/or room and board, the number is much higher now.

But you gotta wait for that report.

It may seem that the US is taking the lead but Asia has been driving down this path for a while now.


TNL Industry Guest Post 003: James Kozachuk has been building the collegiate eSports ecosystem since 2011, with key roles at the Collegiate Starleague and the High School Starleague. He is currently a researcher at the University of Central Florida, where he studies the effects of eSports programs on students. In addition, he works with Blizzard Entertainment's collegiate eSports division, Tespa and has provided his collegiate analytics and data services to multiple Fortune 500 companies. The article has been edited for length.


/01 COLLEGIATE ESPORTS IN ASIA

Campus League Event (Photo: Garena Malaysia/Singapore Facebook )

Campus League Event (Photo: Garena Malaysia/Singapore Facebook )

When anyone involved within the eSports scene hears the words "collegiate eSports," they immediately picture leagues like Riot Games' "ULOL Campus Series," Blizzard's "Heroes of the Dorm," or universities like UC Irvine and Robert Morris University creating arenas on their campuses. While North America has been building this scene for years, the Asian scene has been developing even more rapidly.

Hot off the success of the first ever developer run collegiate tournament (Garena, Riot Games' South East Asian distribution partner, called their "Inter-Varsity Tournament") in 2012, the world was introduced years later to the first "Campus Series" event. University students from Singapore and Malaysia participated in separate tournaments and crowned national winners.

By 2016, Campus Series events would be introduced to almost every major country in the region: China, The Philippines, Indonesia, Vietnam, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Thailand.

2016 ICC Championship In Taipei (Photo: YouTube)

2016 ICC Championship In Taipei (Photo: YouTube)

These tournaments even culminated in a grand-finals in Taiwan - moved originally from Thailand as a result of the Thai King's death in 2016.

There's also action on the international level.

A fight between the best Chinese and American universities was sponsored by DouyuTV - the Sequoia/Tencent backed version of China's Twitch - and organized by Tespa, Blizzard Entertainment’s collegiate eSports team.

China v. US Intercollegiate Competition (Photo: TeamLiquid.net)

China v. US Intercollegiate Competition (Photo: TeamLiquid.net)

/02 COLLEGIATE ESPORTS IN EUROPE

University eSports Masters European Series (Photo: University eSports Masters

University eSports Masters European Series (Photo: University eSports Masters

Europe's disadvantage in collegiate eSports is that their students do not share the same level of school pride in sport that we've got here in the good Ol' US of A. Most sports focus on city clubs, rather than schools - especially given how distributed European campuses are.

That is, except for the United Kingdom, the birthplace of school club sports.

The National University eSports League (NUEL) has been organizing collegiate esports competitions since 2010 and has partnered with Riot Games in some capacity since 2015. Almost 3,000 students from 96 institutions - 60%+ of all institutions in the UK - participated in this league.

That makes it the most densely populated collegiate league in the world.

NUEL: National University eSports League (Photo: NUEL)

NUEL: National University eSports League (Photo: NUEL)

While the United Kingdom may be ahead of the other European nations in terms of schools and players, various leagues have cropped across the continent: France, Italy, Portugal, Spain, and Germany.

Wait, is this starting to sound familiar?

Enter the University eSports Masters, a competition that brings the top teams from each nation together for a one-of-a-kind regional finals.  While there appeared to be no developer support during its first iteration in 2016, Twitch and their new Student initiative have begun their support in the league for the 2017 season.

While not part of the University eSports Masters, a special shoutout is needed for the Dutch Collegiate League. Two years running, the DCL was featured on their nation's FOX Sports channel in 2016, just as eSports has penetrated traditional sports TV channels here.

Also interesting is Riot Games’ recent hire of a Collegiate Esports Manager for CIS (Russian block) nations last year.

More collegiate esports on the horizon?

 

/03 COLLEGIATE ESPORTS IN OCEANIA

Australian Sports Commission (Photo: Government of Australia)

Australian Sports Commission (Photo: Government of Australia)

Wait, there's more?

There's more. Riot Games has been running their Oceanic University Championships since 2013, and ESL has partnered with the University eSports League, another Australian university competition.

In June 2016 it was announced that League of Legends would be the newest sport to be sanctioned by the Australian Sports Commission and the title would be played at the premiere university competition, the Regional and Australian University Games.  

Having an eSport title being officially sanctioned is a big deal as it cuts through a whole lot of bureaucracy needed to build the right infrastructure.

In addition to Riot Games hiring a CIS region Collegiate eSports Manager, they also hired a similar role in Oceania.

If it's not obvious, Riot is investing heavily in the future of international collegiate eSports and their place in it.

 

Part 2: High Schools, National Classes and Prepping eSports For The Future