02/ NIELSEN AND ESPORTS
So does Nielsen measure eSports?
That’s why most reported eSports viewership data is all over the place: Maximum concurrent users, total minutes consumed, most social posts, engagement metrics, tickets sold, number of hot dogs consumed, etc.
So you can’t really compare Sports TV content with digital eSports content.
Yet the media still does.
/03 US VS. INTERNATIONAL
Here’s a little secret that pretty much only people who work in the industry know: depending on the eSports game, the international viewership could be anywhere from 25% up to 75%.
The Nielsen viewer numbers don’t count how many people in the Ukraine watched the NBA Finals. It's only US viewers. But eSports viewership data is global.
Another reason you can’t compare TV Sports vs. digital eSports.
/04 WHAT’S THE REALITY THEN?
The reality is that it’s really hard to make an apples-to-apples comparison between Sports and eSports viewership.
But I’m going to show you what I think is closer to reality.
There is always one stat that gets used for the #1 eSports game in the world: League of Legends. The headlines are usually “League of Legends Beats/More/Watched than [Insert Sport Here]”.
So let’s try to get this as close to Nielsen metrics as we possible can for some comparison:
- The 2016 League of Legends Finals had a peak of 14.7M viewers. That means at one given moment, ~15M people were watching. I’ll be very generous and let’s assume that the PEAK viewers was the actual AVERAGE over the entire game.
- The Finals were between two South Korean teams – SKT and Samsung Galaxy. I’ll be very generous again and say that 50% of the US watched - but it’s probably much lower.
Taking those 3 factors into account, the relevant “Nielsen eSports Viewership” for the 2016 League of Legends Finals would be 7M – NOT 43M.
So has a League of Legends Finals ever beat the NBA Finals, The World Series or any other Sport in viewership?
Here’s how they stack up based on 2016: