Twitch Top 10 Week Of Oct 23rd: Tournaments Galore

TWITCH TOP 10 WEEK OF OCT 23RD: TOURNAMENTS GALORE

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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.

Facebook Expands Even Further Into eSports

FACEBOOK EXPANDS EVEN FURTHER INTO ESPORTS

Facebook Pushers Further Into eSports (Photo: Facebook)

Facebook Pushers Further Into eSports (Photo: Facebook)

TNL Take: In June of 2016, I wrote in The Next Level 010 about "The War On Twitch" that the biggest threat to the live streaming service was Facebook's entrance with their new partnership to offer 1-click streaming of all Blizzard's PC games directly to Zuck's massive platform:

From The Next Level 010, June 14, 2016 (Photo: The Next Level)

From The Next Level 010, June 14, 2016 (Photo: The Next Level)

Facebook then obtained the exclusive rights to Blizzard's "Heroes Of The Dorm", previously held by ESPN, and here's what else they've added to their eSports content:

 

JANUARY: EUROPE'S POWERHOUSE G2 ESPORTS

Top European team G2 eSports - who is at 4:30PM on Sunday currently tied with the world's best League of Legends team at the League of Legends Mid-Season Invitational [Edit: They lost]  -  announced they will start streaming non-exclusively on Facebook beginning in February.  

G2 content will include gameplay broadcasts across multiple titles, behind-the-scenes footage from events and VOD content.

 

APRIL: 76ER'S OWNED TEAM DIGNITAS

Philadelphia 76'ers Owned Team Dignitas (Photo: Team Dignitas)

Philadelphia 76'ers Owned Team Dignitas (Photo: Team Dignitas)

Philadelphia 76ers owned Team Dignitas signed a partnership to live stream on Facebook - although non-exclusive as well and they will continue to also stream on Twitch. 

Content will include team practices, fan interaction and a peek into their daily lives.

Team Dignitas fields 6 teams and currently has about ~800,000 total Fans and Followers on Facebook.

Team Dignitas Fans and Followers (Photo: Facebook)

Team Dignitas Fans and Followers (Photo: Facebook)

 

MAY: ESL EVENTS AND EXCLUSIVE CONTENT

ESL and Facebook Streaming Partnership (Photo: Univision Deportes)

ESL and Facebook Streaming Partnership (Photo: Univision Deportes)

This is the biggest deal to date since the initial Blizzard announcement last year.

ESL announced on Friday a massive streaming partnership with Facebook that includes:

  • 5,500 total hours of content in English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish and German
  • 1,500 of which will be Exclusive to Facebook
  • Content includes: Counter-Strike competitions from ESEA (ESL’s subscription-based platform for amateur, semi-pro, and pro's), an exclusive 30min Counter-Strike show as well as their events like ESL One and Intel Extreme Masters 

Now if ESL's deal sounds kind of familiar...it is.

In March, ESL signed a deal with Twitter to also broadcast ESL One, Intel Extreme Masters along with Dreamhack; as well as an exclusive 30min "eSports Sportscenter" show.

That also shouldn't be a surprise as Dreamhack parent company - MTG (Media Times Group) - also owns a 74% stake in ESL.

 

WHATS NEXT?

As Facebook is just entering these waters, there are numerous ways they could eventually take the lead:

/01 SCALE: Facebook should hit 2 Billion users by the end of Q2 this year. Over half of those users are daily. Which also leads to...

/02 MOBILE: 85% of Facebook's revenues comes from Mobile. As the rest of the world comes online, this is how they're going to access content - not via a PC or console. Facebook stopped reporting Mobile only user numbers but I'd guess it's ~1/3 of their total users.

/03 MONETIZATION: Ads, Donations, Subscriptions, Virtual Currency, Sponsorships, Influencer Campaigns - the list goes on

/04 VR: As VR eventually gathers more audience and others are trying to build VR platforms on top of Twitch or create separate ones, Facebook already has the hardware end with Oculus. From both playing and viewing, the experience potential is endless.

 

This battle is far from over and will be interesting to see how other platforms react in addition to the massive Chinese market. Grab the popcorn.

Movie Theaters and eSports: The Golden Opportunity

MOVIE THEATERS AND ESPORTS: THE GOLDEN OPPORTUNITY

Movie Theaters and eSports: The Golden Opportunity (Photo: ESL )

Movie Theaters and eSports: The Golden Opportunity (Photo: ESL )

TNL Take: A lot of sports Executives see the large, cheering crowds at eSports events at places like the Oracle Arena, Barclays Center and the hallowed Madison Square Garden and get excited about the future potential.

While seeing 20,000 people do the wave at MSG is pretty amazing, in 2017 there maybe 4 nights of eSports events - compared to close to 100 nights with just the New York Knicks and Rangers alone.

While it works, the current quantity of eSports events is just not there yet to continually fill stadiums.  However there maybe a real-estate opportunity that already exists that could be a perfect fit: Movie Theaters.

Here's a look back at how movie theaters and eSports became connected and what the future holds.

 

2015: SUPER LEAGUE GAMING RAISES ~$6M TO BRING ESPORTS TO THEATERS

Super League Gaming's Minecraft Event (Photo: Miriam Di Nunzio/Sun-Times)

Super League Gaming's Minecraft Event (Photo: Miriam Di Nunzio/Sun-Times)

Super League Gaming made their entrance into eSports by raising ~$6M through essentially Series A/B rounds in 2015.

Working with Canada's 3 largest movie chains - Cinemark Theaters (which invested in their Series B) Regal Entertainment Group and AMC Theaters and iPic Theaters -  SLG allows gamers to play together on the big screen.

After a 25 city test, Super League Gaming launched their Minecraft league in the Fall of 2015. Players bring their laptops, phones, iPads to the theater and play directly on their devices and then SLG's magic tech combines all the action where everyone can view it on the screen. 

I love this idea and will dig in deeper why it works so well.

 

2015: COCA-COLA HOSTS LEAGUE OF LEGENDS FINALS VIEWING PARTIES ACROSS THE US

Coca-Cola League Of Legends Theater Viewing Party (Photo: Coca-Cola)

Coca-Cola League Of Legends Theater Viewing Party (Photo: Coca-Cola)

When Coca-Cola invests in any new area, they tend to focus on what associates them with a large global Brand. Which in eSports in 2015 - and even today - is League of Legends.

In August, the League of Legends Summer Split, which has two teams battling to get an automatic slot into the the World Championship, was shown in 30 theaters across the US

The theaters ranged from Atlanta, New York, Chicago to smaller locales like Leawood, Kansas and Lancaster, Ohio.

Let's also not forget Coca-Cola sells a ton of product in theaters.
 

2015: CANADA'S CINEPLEX INVESTS $15M INTO ESPORTS

Cineplex Invests $15M Into eSports (Photo: Cineplex)

Cineplex Invests $15M Into eSports (Photo: Cineplex)

Just a month after Amazon bought Twitch for $1B, Cineplex announced they were going to buy a majority stake in WorldGaming, a gaming tournament platform, for $10 million and invest another $5M to create an eSports league across their chain of theaters.

Cineplex has 162 theaters across the country with 1,652 screens, visited by 74 million people annually, which is about half of Canada's population.

 

2015: COCA-COLA HOSTS LEAGUE OF LEGENDS FINALS VIEWING PARTIES AT 7 CINEMARK THEATERS

Coca-Cola's 2nd League of Legends Viewing Party (Photo: Coke eSports)

Coca-Cola's 2nd League of Legends Viewing Party (Photo: Coke eSports)

After their first foray into bringing eSports to the big screen, Coca-Cola will be replicating that experience across 7 Cinemark Theater locations.

Two things that Coke expanded on from their 1st program: 1) Collectible cups and branded thundersticks, which are those "baseball bat" looking things that fans use to cheer on their team. 2) Allowed fans to vote for additional cities if they weren't near locations like Salt Lake City or Los Angeles.

 

2015: BY EXPERIENCE BRING'S ESL ONE'S FINALS TO THEATERS IN 25+ COUNTRIES

BY Experience and ESL Bring eSports To Theaters In 30 Countries (Photo: BY/ESL)

BY Experience and ESL Bring eSports To Theaters In 30 Countries (Photo: BY/ESL)

ESL, BY Experience and Fathom events decided to take Coke's theater initiatives and make it even bigger by showing ESL One Counter-Strike Finals which took place in Cologne, Germany in screens in over 25 additional countries

Another interesting angle was having an eSports commentator exclusively for the cinema experience.

 

2016: COCA-COLA SHOWS OVERWATCH CONTENT IN THEATERS

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Coca-Cola's 3rd foray into their theater partnership was associated with the launch of Blizzard's Overwatch.

While this wasn't associated with an eSports event, fans got to see cinematics, shorts and short films around the heroes in the game.

One issue was that the content wasn't exclusive to the theater experience which I'm sure Coke learned from.

 

2016: COCA-COLA DOUBLES-DOWN ON LEAGUE OF LEGENDS VIEWING PARTIES WITH A TWIST

Coke's Twist To Theater Viewing Parties (Photo: Coke eSports)

Coke's Twist To Theater Viewing Parties (Photo: Coke eSports)

We've gone through a few of Coca-Cola's theater sponsorships but last year they added a new feature

The change in this partnership is that theaters won’t actually hold the 2016 League of Legends viewing event unless a minimum number of tickets are sold.  This allows individual theaters to essentially decide if eSports or a regular viewing would make them more revenue. 

Smart on both sides as Coke doesn't need to guarantee a minimum and the theaters can show eSports or whatever they were going to play anyways.

My estimate is that theaters needed to sell 200 tickets for it to be shown.

 

2017: SUPER LEAGUE GAMING LAUNCHES LEAGUE OF LEGENDS CITY REC

Super League Gamings City Based League (Photo: Super League Gaming)

Super League Gamings City Based League (Photo: Super League Gaming)

After initially starting with Minecraft, Super League Gaming launched a city based League of Legends league called City Rec. Essentially in the cities pictured above, local players can play in the featured match which is broadcasted on the screen.

For more insight, I spoke spoke Andy Babb, EVP of Super League Gaming.

TNL ESPORTS GUEST PODCAST 002: ANDY BABB, EVP SUPER LEAGUE GAMING

 

2017: HOLLYWOOD'S TCL THEATER GETS ESPORTS SECTION

Hollywood's TCL Theater (Photo: Amanda C Edwards/ Shutterstock)

Hollywood's TCL Theater (Photo: Amanda C Edwards/ Shutterstock)

The famous TCL Theater in Hollywood - formerly Mann's - are launching an eSports theater and experience within their complex.

The new area will be used for both MX4D Motion EFX and the "first immersive spectator theater hosting competitive eSports tournaments" - whatever that means.

 

ESL BRINGS ESPORTS TO 1,500 GLOBAL THEATERS

ESL One's 

ESL One's 

ESL is expanding their partnership with BY Experience to bring 5 live eSports events to 1,500+ theaters globally.  The "eSports in Cinema" series is scheduled to launch in July which will include action from ESL One Cologne and 4 TBD events.

In addition, ESL will debut a new eSports documentary from those that worked on The Smartest Men in the Room, Superheroes and Square Roots: The Story of SpongeBob SquarePants.

 

WHY DOES THE COMBINATION OF MOVIE THEATERS AND ESPORTS WORK SO WELL?

 

/01 REAL ESTATE ROI

"Historically 70-75% of a theater's business is done Friday through Sunday, so they are relatively inefficient operations Monday through Thursday," says Eric Handler, senior equity analyst for MKM Partners.

In addition, using the Coke minimum ticket model, theaters can determine what content will be most lucrative.

 

/02 MULTIPLE LOCATIONS

Can't make it to NYC, LA, Vegas or DC to watch your favorite eSports event, now the content is increases by an order of magnitude. It also provides...

 

/03 COMMUNITY BASED EXPERIENCE

Instead of watching an eSports event by yourself at home, you can join other fans and watch together.

Just like traditional sports, I believe this makes it even more attractive to the eSports fan.

 

/04 MONETIZATION

Look at the new revenue streams now available to theaters:

  • Tournament Fees
  • Sponsorships and Advertising revenue
  • Food and Beverage

Just think of this scenario: "Enjoy your time Bobby, Mom and Dad are going to be at the bar right outside"

 

Brilliant.