Last night's Super Bowl, which saw the Seattle Seahawks thump the Denver Broncos 43-8, might have been one of the most boring in history. But it still drew 100 million viewers. Competitors, naturally, opted to less risky shows to air—repeats of “Shark Tank” and “America’s Funniest Home Videos” abounded.
There was one industry that didn't bother changing up its schedule. One of the best League of Legends matches of the week was scheduled Sunday, and 300,000 people watched it.
To put that in context, CBS, the second-most-watched network after FOX and the Super Bowl, averaged only about 4 million viewers throughout last night. An esports event received 9 percent of a major network during the most-watched event of the year? Not too shabby, especially for an event that isn't even broadcast on television.
The League Championship Series, North America and Europe’s premiere League tournament, runs Thursday through Sunday in the middle of the day, with the final North American matches ending around 7pm on Sunday. The Super Bowl kickoff was scheduled for 6:30pm.
Despite the obvious conflict, the LCS changed nothing about their broadcast schedule--even though the final 6pm match was the biggest of the week, between the two 6-1 North American teams (Cloud 9 and Team SoloMid). Adding up the numbers from both all the different Web streaming sites that broadcast the match, it's clear that 300,000 viewers during the matchup, despite the Super Bowl already having begun.
The key for esports, it seems, is in their delivery platform. By focusing on online streaming video, opposed to television, fans aren’t fighting over the channel or trying to switch away during commercials. Many fans simply turned on both:
It also helps that the two League teams both brought their A-game and played a very entertaining match. As the dust settled (and about when Bruno Mars took the stage), Team SoloMid had secured victory and, for the first time since August, dethroned Cloud 9 from first place in North America.
Photo by arturb/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)