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.