2017 eSports TV Ratings: Nintendo World Championship, The CW, ELEAGUE


2017 Nintendo World Championship on DisneyXD (Photo: Nintendo )

2017 Nintendo World Championship on DisneyXD (Photo: Nintendo )

TNL Take: This week continues the eSports on TV trend with several key stats:

  • DisneyXD broadcast the 2017 Nintendo World Championship for the first time and shows Nintendo's dedicated push into eSports in 2017 in addition to a great Sunday time slot of 5PM
  • Not including DisneyXD's 60+ eSports programs to date, the total on all other channels including ESPN, TBS and the NFL Network has now hit 50 - more than double that of 2016
  • The CW again benefitted by showcasing eSports during a key time slot - Tuesday Prime Time

[Due to the massive amount of programming, The Next Level will showcase the Top 25 in the weekly reports for easier viewing]

TNL Infographic 062: 2017 eSports TV Ratings (Infographic: The Next Level)

TNL Infographic 062: 2017 eSports TV Ratings (Infographic: The Next Level)


Out of all the eSports programming over the past year, The CW has continually given the best programming time slots: Weekday Prime Time. Not including Candy Crush - please don't @ me - The CW again takes the #1 slot with their Chasing the Cup series, this time featuring Injustice 2. 

Does this showcase the popularity of Injustice 2 and the Fighting genre for this audience? Not necessarily as ESPNU showed the same game on a Wed at 1AM and drew the lowest audience of any eSports program with 11,000 viewers.

More than likely the high viewership is The CW's reach, coupled with a great time slot; vs. the actual title as evidenced by the #2 program around another new game H1Z1.



We've already covered DisneyXD's massive eSports programming but this past week was a special one: the 2017 Nintendo World Championship were broadcast for the first time on the channel. 

And it delivered.

TNL Infographic 063: DisneyXD's eSports TV Ratings and Nintendo World Championship (Infographic: The Next Level)

TNL Infographic 063: DisneyXD's eSports TV Ratings and Nintendo World Championship (Infographic: The Next Level)

Nintendo's family friendly games fits perfectly with DisneyXD's audience and it's not surprising that the 2017 World Championship would rank as #1 - what is surprising is that it drew 30%+ more viewership than the 2017 EVO Super Smash Bros. Finals which is the second ranked program.

Nintendo based games/events currently make up 6 of the top 7 ranked eSports programs on DisneyXD.



This week ELEAGUE had their Counter-Strike preview show before the start of the playoffs, which always perform well as it's just 1 hour vs. 3 hours.

The very interesting part is that this week, the Preview show was shown at 3AM and still garnered 300,000+ viewers. 

Pretty amazing considering the time slot and more data showing the audience appetite for eSports shoulder content.

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.