2017 eSports TV Ratings: Injustice 2 Premieres On TBS

2017 ESPORTS TV RATINGS: INJUSTICE 2 PREMIERES ON TBS

Injustice 2 On ELEAGUE (Photo: Turner)

Injustice 2 On ELEAGUE (Photo: Turner)

[Edit: Quick update today due to travel]

TNL Take: This week saw the debut of Injustice 2 with Turner's ELEAGUE.

2017 eSports TV Ratings (Infographic: The Next Level)

2017 eSports TV Ratings (Infographic: The Next Level)

TBS

The debut of ELEAGUE's Injustice 2 kicked off with a strong start garnering 231,000 viewers with half being in the key 18-49 demo.

The genre that's currently drawing the most viewers?

Fighting.

Taking a look at the Top 25 rated shows for 2017, 12 are in the fighting genre. We will dig into this a bit deeper but two key points standout:

  • Short Learning Curve: Unlike games like League of Legends or Counter-Strike which have plenty of strategy and a deep learning curve, fighting games are extremely simple: just beat your opponent. A casual viewer can understand the action almost instantly.
  • Passionate Community: The FGC (Fighting Game Community) is one of the most enthusiastic audiences within eSports. With little publisher support, almost all of the live events are grassroots driven. 

2017 eSports TV Ratings: Can Turner's ELEAGUE Draw Brands?

2017 ESPORTS TV RATINGS: CAN TURNER'S ELEAGUE DRAW BRANDS?

ELEAGUE's New Season (Photo: Turner)

ELEAGUE's New Season (Photo: Turner)

TNL Take: A relatively quiet week on the eSports TV programming side compared with the   flood over the past month.

TNL Infographic 061: 2017 eSports TV Ratings: ELEAGUE Season 3 (Infographic: The Next Level)

TNL Infographic 061: 2017 eSports TV Ratings: ELEAGUE Season 3 (Infographic: The Next Level)

 

TURNER

TBS had the only eSports related programming this week with a Preview show to the start of their third season of Counter-Strike.  These 1-hour overview episodes tend to perform well as the viewership doesn't run to midnight like the normal programming.

Here is 2016's Season 2 Preview show for comparison:

2016 eSports TV Ratings (Chart: The Next Level)

2016 eSports TV Ratings (Chart: The Next Level)

Now here's the million dollar question - where are the brands?

Turner made great fanfare by announcing a slew of sponsorships to start Season 1:

Season 3 begins this Friday and not one major partnership has been announced.

With as many televised events in 2017 already as 2016, the brands should be increasing along with the vast number investing now in eSports.

 

The canary in the coal of mine of advertising is always brand renewals and I can definitely say this: Season 3 will not have nearly the presenting sponsors as Season 1.

Why? Let's say one of the big reasons has nothing to do with the ratings or the game being a First Person Shooter.

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)

NBCSN

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)

 

TBS/ELEAGUE

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.

The CW Tops 2017 Q2 eSports TV Ratings

THE CW TOPS Q2 ESPORTS TV RATINGS

The CW's H1Z1 Tops Q2 eSports TV Ratings (Photo: Daybreak Studios)

The CW's H1Z1 Tops Q2 eSports TV Ratings (Photo: Daybreak Studios)

TNL Take: As we close out the first half of 2017, we've seen more eSports programming on TV than all of 2016.

TNL Infographic 047: 2017 Q2 eSports TV Ratings (Infographic: The Next Level)

TNL Infographic 047: 2017 Q2 eSports TV Ratings (Infographic: The Next Level)

THE CW: 

The CW again takes the top spot just like they did last year, this time around the popular game H1Z1. The CW is in more households than other networks on the list however I'd still point out the one major difference: scheduling.

The H1Z1 event aired on Thu at 9PM aka Prime Time viewing.

 

ELEAGUE/TURNER

ELEAGUE launched a new eSports series around Street Fighter that did exceptionally well considering it was the games first major television debut and the lack of support that Capcom has provided in supporting the FGC (Fighting Game Community) - that looks to be changing however.

TNL Infographic 048: ELEAGUE TV Ratings History (Infographic: The Next Level)

TNL Infographic 048: ELEAGUE TV Ratings History (Infographic: The Next Level)

This past weekend, ELEAGUE held their "Clash For Cash" rematch Counter-Strike event between Astralis and Virtus Pro, the teams that were in the Finals which set Twitch viewership records.

This event wasn't even close to the previous Counter-Strike finals on both TV and Twitch.

TNL Infographic 049: ELEAGUE Counter-Strike TV Ratings History (Infographic: The Next Level)

TNL Infographic 049: ELEAGUE Counter-Strike TV Ratings History (Infographic: The Next Level)

Even the scheduling seems odd.

The same weekend held Dreamhack (major event), CWL Anaheim (major Call of Duty event) and CEO (major fighting event) - on top hundreds of hours of gaming and eSports content related to E3 which ended last week.

Why not hold it the following week or with less content clutter?

The canary in the coal mine for advertising is renewals - aka Brands got value from their investment and will spend again with you. 

There were 0 Non-Endemic Brand deals for "Clash For Cash".

ELEAGUE's new season around Injustice 2 will be telling to see if Buffalo Wild Wings, Arby's, Credit Karma, GEICO and others come back.