Activision Announces Record eSports Viewership | THE NEXT LEVEL 02

Activision Announces Record eSports Viewership

TNL Take: Last week Activision Blizzard Media Networks released viewership numbers from their CS:GO Columbus $1M Major and they were huge:

  • 45M Hours Consumed
  • 1.6M Max Concurrents
  • 68 Hours of Content Created

This not only broke previous Counter-Strike records, it shows that the newly acquired MLG team can put on Major events previously done by Riot, ESL and Valve.

TNL Take: Before we even get to the data, a big hand to the team at MLG for pulling off an event of this scale: Sold out crowd of 10,000, 16 top Global teams, listening and implementing feedback from the community, superb production and new viewing options — and not even for their own IP. Now the numbers:

1. Views counts are absolutely meaningless for two reasons: because they are undefined and inconsistent across every platform. The first is like saying I have 25 Million in the bank — I’m just not going to tell you what currency it’s in. The second has already been perfectly addressed by Rob Norman, the Chief Digital Officer of GroupM which just happens to be the world’s largest advertising agency in terms of billings. Here’s how various platforms count views:

2. 45M hours consumed is a whopping amount of consumption and shows the high level of engagement that eSports can provide for brands.

3. 1.6M concurrents also broke a new record by 23% over the previous CS:GO Major held in August. Not only are we seeing consistent growth across all metrics but MLG’s streaming technology held strong on a scale of this magnitude.

4. 68 hours of content created is also impressive. For context, Turner’s E-League is programming 30 hours of content per week.

So all these numbers are fantastic. But what does that mean for eSports, Media, and Brands? That’s next.

21% of Twitch Content is eSports
A recent report from Newzoo showed that during the second half of 2015, 21% of hours watch on Twitch was eSports content. 85% of all eSports is primarily two categories: MOBA’s and Shooter’s.

My Take: More than 1/2 of eSports content viewed is MOBA’s — the hardest of eSports to comprehend for a new audience. It takes about 5 seconds to understand the premise of Rocket League. I’ve seen people watch 15 minute beginner videos for MOBA’s and still have no idea what’s going on. And there in lies the opportunity. Even if just Riot can make the game more accessible to newbies, Twitch’s overall ownership of eSports continues to grow.

The other opportunity comes for Activision-Blizzard. Hearthstone is only 13% eSports driven hours but look at the massive amount of Consumer engagement — it eclipses the #1 shooter in the world with 203M hours. 
Go to Twitch at anytime — it’s always in the Top 4 games being played. I equate Hearthstone with Poker and it’s no surprise that the highest grossing ($32M) Poker player of all time Daniel Negreanu is a huge fan and player. He also broadcasts his Hearthstone games on Twitch and has 50K followers. Big runway to drive Hearthstone into a much larger player in the eSports space.

Nielsen Reports Males are 81% of eSports Fans
Not surprisingly, as Nielsen moves to platform-agnostic measurement, they’ve released a recent Gaming 360 study covering Mobile, VR and eSports.

My Take: Surprisingly most coverage centered around the large Male % of fans — something that has been well known in the industry for a while. Most missed these two metrics:

  • Only 12% of Gamers (not the general population) considers themselves to be eSports fans. What? If true, that’s another factor for future growth.
  • The average eSports fan also has an average income of $69,000 — that’s 33%+ higher than the US National Average. Dear brands, these young males have money in their wallets (and Venmo) for you.

4th US TV Network to Program eSports in 2016
So far this year we have had eSports on TV via The CW and ESPN2, upcoming on TBS and now the Big Ten Network is joining in on the fun. Powerhouse schools Ohio State and Michigan State will battle each other at PAX East in Boston in a League of Legends Showdown.

My Take: There’s nothing earth shattering here…but.

Xsolla White Labels eSports Coaching
Xsolla is a billing and payment solution provider for games and powers Twitch’s broadcast subscription service. They have added/pivoted their services to include a White Label eSports coaching solution allowing any streamer/website to become a coach with Xsolla taking a % of the fee.

My Take: Now take the last 2 and pieces and imagine this future:

  • Your 18-year old is taking eSports lessons from a 15-year old in Sweden
  • He has a full paid scholarship to Stanford but needs to hone his skills to the next level
  • The team is under the same regulations as any NCAA sport
  • Stanford has turned out the most eSports Pro’s since launching their curriculum
  • He gets drafted by the Las Vegas Vipers
  • You put on your VR glasses and watch his 1st game on

Seeing it now?


Turtle Wax just announced their partnership with Optic Gaming. What’s great is that Turtle Wax is sticking to what I mentioned last week: Be Authentic. Have a conversation. The Optic House garage will be fully branded where the team regularly posts videos and content marketing during the team’s many road trips. You think this audience doesn’t like cars? Optic’s former captain and eSports Superstar Nadeshot recently traded in his $140,000 BMW i8 for a Mercedes Benz G63 AMG.

My Take: This. Is. Awesome. For the main reason that this is the 2nd non-endemic brand partnership for Optic after Pepsi just last month. eSports can’t grow with only PC, hardware, and accessories brands making up the majority of current Ad revenue. What’s been the reaction so far? Take this for what it’s worth but I checked the @TurtleWax Twitter account over the last month and the tweet with the most Likes had 28. 11 hours after the partnership being announced, this tweet has 556:

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