LoL – The future is here, and everyone is watching

As mentioned before, I greatly enjoyed watching much of the League of Legends world championship, taking in about two dozen or so matches (though all on replay due to the time zone differences), including watching the final matches on the big screen TV with the wife. Just in terms of pure entertainment, the product was on par with other offerings on cable TV.

In other words, if I had the choice between LoL Worlds and say, Game of Thrones, it would be a 50/50 situation (I’d end up watching both, but gun to my head and being only able to watch one… think I’d lean towards LoL honestly).

The production quality was top-notch, the matches were filled with surprises, upsets, and comebacks (though the final winner was the favorite going in, so ultimately things played out as expected in that regard), and technically the product was error-free from what I watched.

All of this is especially impressive considering the size of the audience. Riot has provided the numbers here, and again if we compare this to TV viewership, the LoL Worlds would have been amongst the highest rated shows on TV, and extremely valuable due to it catering to the highest-sought demographic (18-35 males) in terms of advertising. Network execs would KILL for those numbers in that demo for a prime-time show or event.

Consider that by far the most valuable TV property right now, the NFL, averages just under 20 million viewers per game (granted Worlds is closer to the Superbowl in terms of frequency and importance, but the Superbowl blows EVERYTHING out of the water in terms of viewership, and the Superbowl comparison is like comparing MMO success using WoW as the starting point). The average prime-time TV show averages around 7 million viewers, and more and more the viewership is NOT the key 18-35 demo.

I was going to say I wouldn’t be surprised if, at some point in the near future, we see eSports on TV here in the US in a major way (this is already the case in Korea), but that might not happen simply because the TV model itself is a dinosaur. Pro players today aren’t looking to get on TV, they are looking to build streaming viewership numbers, which in turn result in more ad revenue and sponsorships. They don’t NEED a network or TV deal, because they have Twitch, and anyone can start up a Twitch channel. In a way it’s like how the news business has changed; in days past a reporter and the newspaper company behind him were in control of the information and when/how it was shared, while today anyone with a Twitter account can tweet and ‘break the news’. For better or worse, technology has changed the news industry, just like today it is changing the TV industry.

And because change is scary and the internet allows us to view fear as it happens, the Massively comments section does it big once again on this story. Worth reading if only for GoldenGirl, clearly a new gem to keep an eye on going forward.

About SynCaine

Former hardcore raider turned casual gamer.
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5 Responses to LoL – The future is here, and everyone is watching

  1. TV ratings guy says:

    LoL viewership is certainly big (and valuable as you note), and the points in your post are all valid, but comparing viewership to TV using those Riot numbers is in general apples/oranges.

    When you see TV viewership/ratings in public they are almost always *average* numbers over an entire telecast. (i.e. the ~100m viewership number for the Super Bowl = 100m on average watched the entire show).

    Riots numbers in their post are mostly either *peak* viewership (max watching at one time), or *total* viewership (number who watched any part).

    Nielsen provides those “other” numbers for TV telecasts as well, but they’re almost never seen in public (although they sometimes are for the biggest events like the SB).

    • SynCaine says:

      Fully agree, the Riot numbers and Nelson numbers are somewhat apples to oranges, but ultimately what the Riot numbers show is that Worlds drew a LOT of eyeballs (and the most valuable eyeballs at that), and that’s not just a lot by eSport standards, but in more general “what are the masses watching” standards.

      Numbers aside, its safe to say more people watched Worlds than watch a top 5 sitcom on network TV. That has significance, because even a few years ago that would have seemed impossible to achieve.

  2. Rohan says:

    I’m kind of surprised you don’t like GoldenGirl. Her comments on most other articles (especially Archeage and Trion) seem like they would be right up your alley.

    • SynCaine says:

      If we are being 100% honest I don’t look at who wrote what over at Massively, and things only stick out when its at this level of… massively.

  3. carson63000 says:

    Haha, GoldenGirl.. I only recognize about three names on Massively comments, but she’s one of the ones prolific enough for me to remember. Allegedly working on a resurrection of City of Heroes – and with a personality that guarantees Derek-Smart-level quality of feuding with players if it ever materializes (it won’t).

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