2017 Esports Predictions Review: TV


2017 Esports Predictions: TV (Photo: Cesar Level)

2017 Esports Predictions: TV (Photo: Cesar Level)

TNL Take: As this year comes to a close, this week The Next Level will review our 2017 predictions and score how well we did.

Here were the 5 predictions made for esports and TV:


/01 20+ esports events in 2016. We may see double that this year.

2017 Esports TV Ratings (Chart: The Next Level)

2017 Esports TV Ratings (Chart: The Next Level)

We had more than double esports programs on DisneyXD alone this year.  

Across the board we will have seen 100+ esports programs on TV in 2017 and a huge increase from 2016. The Top 25 are listed above but expect to see Madden show up near the top when it debuts on The CW next week.



/02 More broadcast deals as Publishers look to monetize their content

The trend for exclusive esports content continued in 2017. Facebook had several deals including partnerships with Blizzard's Heroes of the Dorm, G2 Esports, 76'ers owned Team Dignitas, ESL, PUBG and Hi-Rez Studios for Paladins Premier League.

YouTube Gaming also picked up a few exclusives including ESL's English language streams for Counter-Strike, a new partnership with Faceit and a slew of product developments

Twitter also announced they would livestream 1,500 hours of esports content this year and we saw many TV broadcast deals as well.



/03 Another OTT deal such as MLBam and Riot's $300M deal

League of Legends at Madison Square Garden (Photo: Riot Games)

League of Legends at Madison Square Garden (Photo: Riot Games)

December of last year, we saw a huge partnership between BAMTech and Riot Games to the tune of $300M

We still don't know the full distribution list for both Overwatch League and NBA 2K League but expect both of those to be announced soon.

We did see the announcement of the WHAM Network for a 24/7 esports and gaming lifestyle channel along with ESPN's upcoming OTT launch which should include esports content but neither launched in 2017.


/04 More Sports esports on TV like Madden, FIFA and NBA2K

EA Madden NFL On The CW (Photo: EA Sports)

EA Madden NFL On The CW (Photo: EA Sports)

Last year saw only 2 esports sports programs on TV with Madden 17 and FIFA 17. In 2017, including re-runs, sports esports included 14 programs. FIFA was shown on ESPN, the first time esports has been shown on the flagship channel.

Further, the EA Madden NFL Challenge will have a 1-hour special on The CW on December 27th and should see strong ratings.

A massive increase in sports esports on TV compared to 2016.



/05 EVO will be bigger and more fighting esports content

EVO 2017 was bigger than EVO 2016 when taking into account that this year was shown on ESPN2, Disney XD along with repeats on ESPNU

More fighting content? Yes with the airing of both Street Fighter V and Super Smash Bros Finals.



2017 Esports on TV Prediction Score: 4 out of 5

Q1 2017 eSports TV Ratings


That's a TV. (Photo: SciptMag)

That's a TV. (Photo: SciptMag)

TNL Take: Yesterday, we looked at the big increase in Brands investing in eSports in Q1. This is across digital platforms, events, team and player sponsorships and a slew of other options.

Now let’s see how eSports performed on TV.

TNL Infographic 032: Q1 2017 eSports TV Ratings (Infographic: The Next Level)

TNL Infographic 032: Q1 2017 eSports TV Ratings (Infographic: The Next Level)

Outside of ELEAGUE’s Counter-Strike Major and it's first fighting event with Street Fighter, almost all Q1 programming was basically sports, EA Madden NFL and EA FIFA.

I believe in the Fighting Genre for eSports for two reasons: I love it and more importantly, a child can understand the game.  You need a physics degree to watch a game like League of Legends if you’ve never watched it before.

FYI: Two-time college champion for Street Fighter 2 on Super Nintendo Entertainment System. #BringIt

The #1 viewed eSports program in 2016 was Mortal Kombat, a fighting game which went against the Grammy’s no less.  ESPN's EVO Championship, another fighting tournament, had more viewers than 10 Counter-Strike events including their Season 2 Finals.

So why?

Why did this past Friday’s viewership of ELEAGUE’s Street Fighter event only get 200,000 total viewers - about 30% less than the Average Total Viewership for both Counter-Strike seasons?

Why did it only beat the Madden Bowl on the NFL Network by only 5% when TBS is in ~15M more households?

Why did the Madden Challenge get 91,000 viewers which would have made it almost the lowest viewed eSports event in the last two years?

Why do we park on driveways and drive on parkways? 

I don’t nor do I believe anyone else has a definitive answer to any of these questions but I’ll take a few stabs:



Friday at 10PM is “the graveyard for TV programming”. I’ve said this numerous times and there’s no way TBS is going to put eSports on Prime Time where they generate millions in ad revenue.  Re-runs of "The Big Bang Theory draws' a much larger audience and Turner Ad Sales doesn't need to explain anything to sell it.

The Madden Challenge on the NFL Network was not only on Sunday night – the most popular TV viewing day – but at 9PM going against "The Walking Dead", MLB Opening Weekend, and "Keeping Up With The Kardashians" - don't lie, I know you watch it

So ELEAGUE Street Fighter at the worst time and EA Madden against serious competition.

Not a good formula.



Friday’s televised event was the culmination of a several days of live streamed Street Fighter content. After hours of programming, more than likely only the hardcore fans wanted to watch the Finals at 10PM on a Friday night.

Further, there was also League of Legends on Twitch – which kills it in viewership every time – Gears of War tournament, Madden and ESL Counter-Strike Pro-League on YouTube.

Yet for all the millions Turner poured into the studio – which looked absolutely amazing – the marketing and the continual press; the Street Fighter event ranked as the #17 watched show out of the 19 eSports programs Turner has put on.



This is the most curious one for me. Lot’s of people have said Sports eSports won’t work – I’ve even said it.

But the NFL has been around for decades, instantly recognizable and I’d bet more people know who Julio Jones is than Blanka – that’s a character in Street Fighter BTW.

So should have Madden done better?

Madden at 9PM was going against some of the most top rated shows and events on Sunday on a smaller scale sports channel - so not expected.

But why couldn't it have been put on earlier when the NFL Network was basically showing nothing?


I'll leave with this stat which I think is interesting. Although ELEAGUE's Street Fighter may have "only' gotten 200,000 Viewers look at both Total and 18-49 vs. the MLS:

MLS vs. ELEAGUE TV Ratings (Chart: Sportstvratings.com)

MLS vs. ELEAGUE TV Ratings (Chart: Sportstvratings.com)

Pretty much dead even for 18-49 viewers although demo's would be different.

But in a mantra I'll continue to say:

I don't care about the next 12 months. I care about the next 12 years.