US eSports event draws in more viewers than the Super Bowl, and it’s expected to get even bigger!
This weekend CNBC reported that over 10,000 “League of Legends” fans descended upon St. Louis, Missouri and more than 600,000 people tuned in online for one of the biggest annual esports events in North America: The League of Legends Championship Series Spring Split Finals. Audience sizes for esports events like this are only expected to grow, drawing in massive sponsorships from companies like Nike.
Go back to November 2018, and viewership numbers from the “League of Legends” World Championship finals — held in South Korea and also hosted by the game’s publisher, Riot Games — showed that almost 100 million unique viewers tuned in to the event online. For comparison, last year’s Super Bowl had just over 98 million viewers, the smallest viewership number for the event since 2008.
Tickets for that “League of Legends” world final sold out in less than four hours upon their release, prompting Riot to release an additional 3,000 tickets on top of an initial batch of 23,000.
While esports have long been popular in many Asian countries, the space has grown worldwide over the past few years, including in North America. “League of Legends” is just one game driving the esports industry, which will top $1 billion in revenue this year, according to research from Newzoo.
Over a third of that $1 billion industry revenue stream will come from sponsorship deals, which have also been a big driver for Riot’s “League of Legends” franchise. The publisher landed Mastercard as a global sponsor last September, and Riot’s Chinese “League of Legends” league signed a partnership deal with Nike in February.
A report published by YouGov and Nielsen states that although awareness of competitive gaming is relatively low in Britain compared to other countries, four million Brits have watched esports and out of those four million (7% of British adults) 57% are keen to do so again.
The UK Esport industry is steadily growing. Margot James, Minister for Digital, said: "Esports is one of the fastest-growing global industries, and through our modern industrial strategy we aim to help this highly innovative and skilled sector go from strength to strength.
"UK esports is steadily growing in terms of talent and viewership. Extra investment in the UK, with companies such as Riot and LVP providing a multi-million-pound, multi-year investment, indicates an extremely bright future for the scene."
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