The Next Level Joins Nielsen's eSports Advisory Board


The Next Level Joins Nielsen's eSports Advisory Board (Photo: Nielsen)

The Next Level Joins Nielsen's eSports Advisory Board (Photo: Nielsen)

I'm thrilled to announce that The Next Level has joined Nielsen's newly launched eSports advisory board as part of Nielsen Esports to provide insight on audience measurement and validation.

-Manny Anekal

The list of advisory board members:

  • ESL
  • ESPN
  • Facebook
  • FIFA
  • Google YouTube
  • Major League Gaming/Activision Blizzard
  • NBA 2K eLeague
  • Sony PlayStation
  • The Next Level
  • Turner
  • Twitch
  • Twitter
  • Unilever

Nielsen today announced the launch of Nielsen Esports, a new business vertical focused on competitive gaming that will leverage the company’s expertise and leadership in media consumption and valuation. Nielsen Esports will provide sponsorship valuation, fan insights, custom industry research and consulting services to rights holders, media platforms and brands around the world that are moving this fast-growing market forward.

Esports has experienced massive global growth over the past few years with major investment from blue chip sponsors, game publishers and media companies, as well as sports leagues and teams. The esports fan base is also rapidly expanding with nearly one in three fans beginning to follow esports just within the past year, according to new Nielsen Esports research.

“There’s a high demand for reliable, independent measurement of value in esports,” said Howard Appelbaum, President, Nielsen Entertainment. “We’re excited to enhance our client offerings and provide the industry with solutions that will help guide and optimize investment decisions in this exciting, growing space.”

Recognizing the need for consistent sponsorship valuation in esports, Nielsen developed Esport24, a syndicated sponsorship tracking service for esports tournaments. The service measures brand exposure in esports tournaments representing a variety of titles, event formats and geographic locations based on the same methodology that allows traditional sports rights holders and brands to quantify value and benchmark performance.

Nielsen Esports will also release global fan insights throughout the year, with a new research offering spanning the US, UK, Germany, France, Japan, South Korea, and China in 2017.

As part of this new business vertical, Nielsen has created an esports advisory board of industry stakeholders who will provide insight to help shape the future of esports audience measurement and valuation. Members include representatives from ESL, ESPN, Facebook, FIFA, Major League Gaming/Activision Blizzard, NBA 2K eLeague, The Next Level, Sony PlayStation, Turner, Twitch, Twitter, Unilever, and Google YouTube.

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)