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.

2017 eSports TV Ratings: FIFA on ESPN2, ELEAGUE Street Fighter Tops 300K

2017 ESPORTS TV RATINGS: FIFA CHAMPIONSHIP ON ESPN2, ELEAGUE STREET FIGHTER TOPS 300K

Vitality Rockyy Wins the 2017 FIFA Ultimate Team Championship in Berlin (Photo: EA Sports)

Vitality Rockyy Wins the 2017 FIFA Ultimate Team Championship in Berlin (Photo: EA Sports)

TNL Take: After last week's EA Madden NFL's 2017 Championship on the NFL Network, this week saw EA's FIFA Ultimate Team 2017 Championship take place in Berlin on ESPN2 as well as ELEAGUE's Playoff Preview show for this Friday's Street Fighter V Invitational Playoffs.

Here's how they performed:

TNL Infographic 040: 2017 eSports TV Ratings (Infographic: The Next Level)

TNL Infographic 040: 2017 eSports TV Ratings (Infographic: The Next Level)

Vitality Rockyy (Photo: Team Vitality)

Vitality Rockyy (Photo: Team Vitality)

  • EA FIFA: After 32 players battled it out in Berlin over 2 days, Corentin “Vitality Rockyy” Chevrey won the 2017 FIFA Ultimate Team Championship taking home $160,000.  With a full season of competitive play, $1M+ dedicated to FIFA prize pools and a Saturday 11AM time slot on ESPN - still failed to draw a lot of viewers with only 40,000 total and 19,000 in the 18-49 demo.

For comparison, last years 2016 FIWC (FIFA Interactive World Cup) - the big FIFA finals if you will - drew 46,000 total viewers on Fox Sports 1, which has almost the same household penetration as ESPN2.

This year's 2017 FIWC will be provide a decent baseline to see EA's efforts in relation to TV viewership.

 

ELEAGUE's Street Fighter V Invitational Playoffs (Photo: Turner)

ELEAGUE's Street Fighter V Invitational Playoffs (Photo: Turner)

  • ELEAGUE Street Fighter: The fighting game continues to grow with this week's show hitting 330,000 total and 177,000 viewers in 18-49.  This makes it ELEAGUE's highest rated show for 2017 and the 4th highest rated show across their various programming since starting in 2016.  

The "preview/highlight" shows tend do perform well in addition to only being 1 hour and ending at 11 PM; which would help increase the viewer numbers as well.  

This weekend's playoffs will be another good test to see if can now beat the 350,000 viewer mark.

 

Including replays, 2017 has now seen 25 eSports programs on TV at the end of May - whereas 2016 saw 22 in total.

2017 eSports TV Ratings: Madden Championship, Street Fighter Soars and FIFA

2017 ESPORTS TV RATINGS: MADDEN CHAMPIONSHIP, STREET FIGHTER SOARS AND FIFA

2017 Madden Champion Skimbo (Photo: EA Sports)

2017 Madden Champion Skimbo (Photo: EA Sports)

TNL Infographic 038: 2017 eSports TV Ratings (Infographic: The Next Level)

TNL Infographic 038: 2017 eSports TV Ratings (Infographic: The Next Level)

  • EA MADDEN: This weekend saw the conclusion to EA Madden's 1st Season of competitive play with Michael "Skimbo" Skimbo taking home the belt along with $100,000. While the total viewers were ~100,000 less than last year there are two potential reasons: 01/ Last year's Championship was on ESPN2 which is in 15M+ more households than the NFL Network /02 The 1st Madden Championship on TV, held on Tue afternoon and with no other eSports competition probably added to the allure.  

The 48,000 viewers in the 18-49 demo was the #2 ranked show on NFL Network for Sunday.

 

  • ELEAGUE STREET FIGHTER: This week saw Turner's ELEAGUE Street Fighter series soar to 221,000 total viewers and 145,000 in the 18-49 demo making it the #2 ranked show for the year and even ahead of ELEAGUE's Counter-Strike Major. Will be tough but would great to see the 5/26 Championship reach the 300,000 total viewers mark.

Even more impressive, ELEAGUE beat the English Premier League in BOTH total viewers and the 18-49 demo. For the Twitter "comments", the EPL afternoon slot is better than ELEAGUE's 10PM start time in addition to being....the English Premier League which got $1B from NBC Sports for a 6-year rights deal.

 

  • EA FIFA: The 5/6 Europe Regional ratings were updated garnering 83,000 total viewers and 46,000 in the 18-49 demo. This weekend is also the conclusion to EA FIFA's 1st Season as well as the finalists battle it out in Berlin.