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.

Did You Watch the Super Bowl Or eSports This Weekend?

DID YOU WATCH THE SUPER BOWL OR ESPORTS THIS WEEKEND?

New England Patriots vs. Atlanta Falcons In Super Bowl LI (Photo: EA Sports)

TNL Take: This weekend saw amazing sports competition. Intense rivalries.  Fans going crazy. Fierce action.

And there was also the first half of Super Bowl LI.

I'm kidding.

You were more than likely part of the ~110M around the country that watched The Biggest Event Of The Year™. In the ever shifting media landscape, there is no other vehicle that engages us Americans for 3 hours every year than the Super Bowl.

However this weekend also saw some big developments in another area.

In the perfect timing department, this past Thursday I wrote about my belief that 2017 will be a pivotal year for eSports broadcast rights and TV/Distribution monetization.

Then on Friday came this announcement: EA Sports is partnering with NFL Network and Univision to broadcast this weekend's Madden Bowl and another deal with ESPN to show this weekend's FIFA Regional Finals in Paris.

Madden Bowl 17 Championship Belt (Photo: EA Sports)

Let's start with Madden first.

That Madden Bowl being broadcast on the NFL Network wasn't anything new - I even mentioned that also last week - but the addition of Univision Deportes is great to see.  This is the 2nd eSports program for Univision after airing December's Madden Classic in LA.

The ratings will be out shortly and I'll provide an update but here's a viewership comparison:

  • NFL Network [Fri 1/27 9:00PM - 10:00PM]  129,000 and 58,000 in 18-49
  • Univision Deportes Madden Classic [12/5 9:00PM - 10:00PM] 23,000 and 18,000 in 18-49

Any eSports numbers equivalent to prior programming is probably considered a win.

Madden Bowl was also streamed across EA.com, Twitch, Facebook and YouTube Gaming. Checking throughout the broadcast, Twitch was drawing ~3X the viewers as YouTube Gaming or Facebook, which were both about the same:

Madden Bowl Streaming Viewership - Twitch, Facebook, YouTube Gaming (Photo: Manny Anekal Twitter)

Considering it's still very early days for competitive Madden and this was only the 2nd Major, the streaming audience wasn't bad. In fact, during the Friday Madden Bowl Finals, the individual channel had the highest peak viewership on Twitch - equal to eSports powerhouse DoTA2, more than Ubisoft's Rainbow 6 Invitational and much more than the Halo Championship Series.

The entire Madden Bowl was amazing with the Finals coming down to the wire and Chris "Dubby" McFarland taking home the belt and $75,000.

EA Sports FIFA Paris Regional Finals (Photo: EA Sports)

EA Sports FIFA Paris Regional Finals (Photo: EA Sports)

More interesting was EA Sports FIFA partnership with ESPN which will be the first time the network airs an eSports event on its flagship channel.

As it's already been noted, the ESPN broadcast is not only tape delayed but runs smack in the middle of the Super Bowl.  Here's what ESPN aired last year against Super Bowl 50 and how it compares against eSports on TV:

eSports On TV and ESPN 2016 Super Bowl Programming (Chart: The Next Level)

It's a smart counter-programming move with very little downside. I'm eager to see what the ratings will be.

Here's the full schedule for FIFA across ESPN and Univision:

  • Saturday, February 4th (Paris): Live at 12pm on ESPN Deportes & ESPN3
  • Sunday, February 5 (Paris): 6-7pm ESPN (Tape Delay)
  • Saturday, February 11 (Sydney): Live at 3am on ESPN Deportes & ESPN3, 7am on ESPN2 (Tape Delay)
  • Sunday, February 19 (Miami): Live at 7pm on ESPN2 & ESPN Deportes
  • Saturday, April 8 (Vancouver): Live at 8pm on ESPN2 & ESPN Deportes
  • Saturday, April 22 (Singapore): Live at 6am on ESPN2 & ESPN Deportes
  • Saturday, May 6 (Madrid): Live at 11am on ESPN2 & ESPN Deportes
  • Saturday, May 20 (Berlin – Grand Final): Live at 11am on ESPN2 & ESPN Deportes

Further, the FIFA Finals featured an Athlete sponsored by German Soccer team FC Schalke 04, one of the 30+ Pro Teams that have invested in eSports.

EA Sports FIFA Paris Regional Finals (Photo: EA Sports)

Looks like 2017 should easily eclipse 2016 in terms of eSports on TV.