2017 eSports TV Ratings: NBC's eSports Debut

2017 eSports TV Ratings: NBC's eSports Debut

Rocket League Universal Open On NBCSN (Photo: NBC Sports)

Rocket League Universal Open On NBCSN (Photo: NBC Sports)

TNL Take: Earlier this week, Feature Writer Jordan Fragen had a detailed analysis of DisneyXD's whopping 60+ eSports and Gaming programming slate.

How's everyone else doing?

Two very interesting data points from the latest ratings.

TNL Infographic 060: eSports TV Ratings - NBC's Debut (Infographic: The Next Level)

TNL Infographic 060: eSports TV Ratings - NBC's Debut (Infographic: The Next Level)


By far the biggest eSports on TV story this past week was Rocket League's Grand Finals on NBC Sports Network on Sunday. Until the Grand Finals, the qualifiers were shown on various NBC Regional Networks like Philadelphia and Chicago [Note: I had 3 people call me from Chicago and couldn't believe what they were watching in the bar 👍🏽 ]

I'm a big fan of Rocket League and rooting for the game's future but the lowest rated live eSports program with 34,000 total viewers was surprising. What's even more surprising is that the repeat at midnight had almost double the viewership as the 9PM Live event.

But was it?

Here's what I wrote last month when Rocket League announced multiple different distribution partnerships:

The Next Level July 19, 2017 (Photo: The Next Level)

The Next Level July 19, 2017 (Photo: The Next Level)

One of the biggest eSports weekend's was against Game Of Thrones new season.

This past weekend was the Game Of Thrones season finale.

If it's not obvious at this point, here's how you eSports TV ratings will do against Game Of Thrones.

Game Of Throne's Monstrous Ratings (Photo: HBO)

Game Of Throne's Monstrous Ratings (Photo: HBO)



Turner continues it's partnership with publisher Valve by first starting with Counter-Strike and now showed DOTA2 and the run up to eSports largest prize pool, The International which hit ~$25M this year.

While those programs performed well - and even beat highly produced events like ELEAGUE's Major - there was 1 program that stood out.

The highest rated eSports program for ELEAGUE this year wasn't an actual event - but a 3 year old documentary on DOTA made by Valve.

Valve's "Free To Play" Documentary (Photo: Valve)

Valve's "Free To Play" Documentary (Photo: Valve)

If a 3+ year old documentary that's been available on Netflix, YouTube and a host of other places performs that well and place that next to DisneyXD's content and you can start to see the need for what I've been talking and hoping for the past year: 

Good. eSports. Shoulder. Content.

Many, many startups and companies are tackling this space and over the next year should see a slew of content released.

2017 eSports TV Ratings: Disney XD Pulls Ahead With 28 Programs


eSports TV Ratings: Disney XD Pulls Ahead With 28 Programs (Photo: ESL)

eSports TV Ratings: Disney XD Pulls Ahead With 28 Programs (Photo: ESL)

TNL Take: To reiterate one of the main themes of eSports in 2017: the bifurcation and distribution of content across TV and Digital platforms.

By far the biggest increase in TV programming has come from the House of the Mouse: Disney



2017 Disney Networks eSports TV Ratings (Infographic: The Next Level)

2017 Disney Networks eSports TV Ratings (Infographic: The Next Level)


After announcing a Gaming programming slate and partnership with ESL, DisneyXD has aired 28 eSports events/programs over the past month.

The Next Level feature writer Jordan Fragen will have an in depth look at Disney XD next week but a few quick points:

  • DisneyXD as released by far the largest amount of eSports related content in a 1 month span
  • The EVO Smash Brothers Finals repeat garnered 80% of the Live Finals viewership - 2 weeks later and with a 9:30PM Sunday time; that's pretty remarkable
  • Interesting to see Disney "share" eSports between ESPN and DisneyXD and allows them to target different advertisers against the same content as the networks have different demographics



2017 eSports TV Ratings (Infographic: The Next Level)

2017 eSports TV Ratings (Infographic: The Next Level)



After debuting with a whopping 4M+ total viewers, Candy Crush has steadily dropped and is about half off its peak, averaging ~2.2M viewers over the past month.

Although Candy Crush has dropped significantly, this past Sunday's ratings doubled last year's 9PM comparison against Madam Secretary.



Rocket League was shown across a few different NBC regional networks (Chicago, Philadelphia, etc.) over the past few weeks and will have a further update once all events have completed.


Currently, eSports TV programming in 2017 has tripled 2016's total and we still have 4+ months left in the year.

2017: eSports, TV and Broadcast Rights

2017: eSports, TV and Broadcast Rights

2017: eSports, TV and Broadcast Rights (Graphic: Julian Burford)

TNL Take: Go ahead and file this away till December but mark my words:

In 2017, eSports TV, broadcast rights and exclusivities will see big growth.

Yesterday we looked the 1st national eSports TV broadcast of the year with ELEAGUE's Counter-Strike Major.

There's been a lot more news over the past 6 weeks.



ESL was on a tear in 2016...

... and 2017 is not slowing them down.

Yesterday, ESL announced a partnership with former creator of Fox Sports David Hill to launch "eSports by Hill" to provide premium broadcast experiences to eSports.

Hill is a Fox veteran having created Fox Sports and regional Sports networks as well as being responsible for the 1st Down yellow line in NFL broadcasts (Win) and the glowing Hockey puck (Fail). Hill also co-produced the 88th Academy Awards and was the executive producer on “The X Factor” and “American Idol.”

While some have commented that Hill was also responsible for the train wreck that was the Championship Gaming Series, that may have also been a case for CGS being too early having launched a decade ago.

Will be interesting to see what Hill brings to ESL in terms of production and casters.



ESL's Counter-Strike Pro League (Photo: ESL)

I told you, ESL is not slowing down.

YouTube Gaming get's Exclusive English broadcast rights for ESL's Counter-Strike Pro League for Seasons 5 and 6.

ESL's Pro League features 28 of the top NA and EU Counter-Strike teams battling for a $1M prize pool per season with the Season 5 Finals held at the Verizon Theatre in Dallas in June. 



GINX eSports TV's "The First Hour" (Photo: GINX eSports TV)

GINX eSports TV, the UK based 24/7 eSports cable and satellite channel, announced that their "The First Hour" show would feature an eSports twist for the new season.

Hosts Adam Savage and Anthony Richardson will chart their first hour of gameplay with AAA releases along with familiar eSports titles and Athletes in the space.

These type of "Let's Play" shows have performed well for YouTuber's but the jury is still our on how this works within eSports. Playing a new game for an hour vs. a popular eSports title are 2 very different things.



Australia's Fetch TV To Launch 24/7 eSports Channel (Photo: Fetch TV)

UK based GINX eSports TV launched in Q4 of 2016 and is already distributed in 40+ countries worldwide.

Now Australia wants in on the action.

Aussie IP-based broadcaster Fetch TV announced the launch of Malaysian-based eGG (Every Good Game) on its platform earlier this month with the first broadcast being the Dota 2 Boston Major which featured 3 Australian eSports Athletes.

In addition to international eSports tournaments, eGG will also feature shows based around gaming culture, reviews, events and talk shows.



ESL Partners With Spanish Broadcaster Movistar (Photo: Movistar)

Spanish telco company Movistar, owned by parent company Telefonica Espana, announced a partnership with ESL to push eSports further in Spain.

The deal is made up of several parts:

  • Movistar and ESL will bring more sponsored amateur and professional competitions with eSports games like  Counter-Strike and League of Legends (the Spanish ESL National Championship previously existed)

  • The company announced their own eSports club Movistar Riders, which will have teams in 5 games - although that seems like a conflict?

  • Movistar will also launch an eSports TV channel to broadcast Spanish eSports events, as well as 13 global events in 2017

  • Additional eSports content will be produced in the new Movistar Gaming Center, which will also act as the physical headquarters for Movistar Riders



Only 1 month down in 2017 and eSports is growing even more quickly than 2016.

Ginx eSports TV Gets $4M From UK's Sky and ITV


Call of Duty World League on Ginx eSports TV (Photo: Ginx)

TNL Take: Just a week after British based Sky TV invested $1M in Drone Racing League; both Sky TV and ITV are increasing their bet on the "next-generation of Sports" with a combined $4M investment into 24/7 eSports Channel Ginx TV.

Ginx TV currently has content from Activision (Call of Duty World League), Valve (E LEAGUE, ECS, The International) and Blizzard (Overwatch) - with I'm sure a lot more announcements on the way.

Ginx TV is currently distributed in 14M homes in the UK and Ireland and an additional 23M homes globally although I wasn't able to find the per country distribution.

Ill keep beating the same drum however:

The need for good eSports content will continue to increase