League of Legends Worlds viewership hit by time zone issue


In September’s U.S. sales numbers from NPD Group, sports games dominated the top of the charts, with FIFA 23, Madden NFL 23 and NBA 2K23 finishing 1-2-3.

— Jason Wilson

Viewership for the League of Legends World Championship on Twitch has struggled to match previous years as the event has returned to North America for the first time since 2016, meaning less-than-ideal broadcast windows for gaming hotbeds in Europe or Asia. An 8pm start on the East Coast of the U.S. means 1am in London, 2am in Paris and 8am in Hong Kong or Shanghai and 9am in Seoul.

According to Esports Charts, viewership for the Play-In round from Mexico City to start the event at the end of September fell for the first time in five years. Viewership was down more than 16% for average viewership compared to 2021.

The Group Stage from New York, which wrapped up Oct. 16, didn’t fare much better, with an average minute audience of 826,000 viewers down roughly 37% drop in viewership. Viewership in the major broadcast languages also fell, with English down 5%, Korean down 63% and Portuguese down 42%.

But while the early rounds took a beating, the recent quarterfinals from New York saw some good news, as viewership numbers rebounded a bit. While still down from 2021, the round saw promising results, such as a match between T1 and Royal Never Give delivering an AMA of 1.1 million viewers, peaking at 1.6 million.

The semifinals head to Atlanta this weekend before the final out in San Francisco (albeit with similar start times to the New York rounds).

One number to pay attention to beyond live viewership is the viewership for replays on Twitch, which will grow in the coming days, weeks and months. — Kevin Hitt

2022’s Play-In stage viewership is down compared to 2021, but it’s still higher than every year since 2017

Esports Charts

2K Sports dropped NBA 2K23 last month, and interest levels around the game were strong as users played for an average of 46.8 hours during September and streamed gameplay for a total of 867,000 hours on Twitch, per data from SBJ sister company Newzoo.

The game, released on Sept. 8 for PlayStation, Xbox and PC, became was the highest-grossing console game in the U.S. in September and the third most-played sports game on console and PC by monthly active users.

Data shows that NBA 2K23 benefitted from users who were looked to move on from FIFA 22. Player acquisition data shows as 36% of players who stopped playing other sports games in favor of playing NBA 2K23 came from FIFA 22. The game’s predecessor, NBA 2K22, saw the biggest migration in the same category, with another older title, Madden NFL 22, being the third largest contributor.

The majority of players who stopped playing non-sports games to play the latest NBA 2K edition previously played Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (43%), Fortnite (37%) and Fall Guys (33%), all free-to-play games.

Figures from late in September, however, show NBA 2K23 will have stiff competition from FIFA 23, which was released Sept. 27. A look at the daily active user metrics for the first seven days of each shows FIFA 23 outperforming the basketball title. — Tobias Seck

ESL Faceit Group (EFG) has the pieces in place to set event attendance streaming records as it gets set to host its first Counter-Strike Major in Brazil next week. The Savvy Gaming Group-owned event organizer first promised to hold a major in the South American nation in 2019, but was delayed by COVID.

Flash forward to this year, and the pent-up demand was evident as EFG sold out the Intel Extreme Masters Rio Major in under an hour. “[The baseline] wasn’t good enough for the appetite and demand in the country,” said EFG Senior Director of Game Ecosystems for CS:GO Shaun Clark. 

Despite backlash from fans and offers by larger venues to host the event, EFG stuck to its plan to keep the event housed at Rio de Janeiro’s Jeunesse Arena. But the organizer leaned into the rabid demand in the region to grow the event “horizontally,” notes Clark.

EFG has added a “fan center” that will be accessible just outside the arena to serve the massive amount of Brazilian fans expected to be in attendance. Jeunesse Arena has a capacity of 15,000, and double that are now expected outside. Clark now is expecting well over 100,000 fans to attend in some fashion.

A key contributor to the passion for this IEM Major has been the Alexandre “Gaules” Borba, whose co-streams of Counter-Strike events have been massively popular in the country (Gaules has even been tapped by the NBA to stream games). Gaules streams to hundreds of thousands of fans every month, and there’s a real chance he breaks Twitch records during the Rio finals.

Sponsors on board for the Major, beyond Intel, include Legion by Lenovo, DHL, the U.S. Air Force, 1XBet and Monster Energy– Hunter Cooke

Subway train wraps in Rio were one way the IEM Major was promoted locally

  • Office furniture brand Steelcase will sponsor the Wonderful Pistachios Last Chance Qualifier in L.A. in December. The event is part of the Panda Cup featuring the Super Smash Bros. Ultimate title.
  • FaZe Clan is getting into Apex Legends and will compete in the third year of the Apex Legends Global Series, which begins in November. FaZe now has 12 teams in competitive gaming.
  • Rainbow Six: Siege’s world championship, the Six Invitational and festival, is coming back to Montreal after spending two years in Europe because of Canada’s COVID-19 restrictions.

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