The global coronavirus pandemic has forced several countries around the world to stay indoors. Video streaming platforms like Netflix, Disney+ and Amazon Prime Video have seen a surge in their user base. But it is not just movies and TV shows that are getting traction, professional e-sports leagues around the world are seeing a huge spike in viewership.
Professional competitions for League of Legends and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO) have seen record-breaking numbers in the past few weeks. According to a report by The Verge, the 11th season of the ESL Pro League, which ran from March 16 to April 12, was the most successful season in the competition’s history. Viewership in the season hit a new record of 4,89,120 concurrent viewers across all platforms for the GS:GO League.
The league also said that total hours watched were up by 113.2 percent as compared to 2019, while average audience per minute reached 1,64,494, a 215.5 percent increase as compared to Season 10. The League of Legends European Championship also peaked in terms of concurrent viewers with a record 4,76,599 people tuning to watch a week three match between finalists G2 Esports and Fnatic. The league’s average minute audience was also up by 10 percent since last year.
When factoring in the playoffs, the numbers for League of Legends get even bigger. During the finals, viewership peaked at 8,07,033 people, which is 76.18 percent higher than the previous 2020 record. The average minute audience (AMA), which is fans watching at the same time in any given minute, of the finals was 6,94,266, another record for 2020. Overall, fans watched a total of 1,06,62,283 hours of LEC, which is an increase of 71.35 percent as compared to last year’s Spring Playoffs.While e-sports competitions do not receive the same viewership as major sporting events, they seem to be filling the void left by cancelled live competitions for some viewers.