ELEAGUE Week 2: Broadcast Growth Accompanied By Betting Surge

Written By Will Green on June 6, 2016 - Last Updated on January 22, 2018

[toc]TBS’ telecast of Friday’s ELEAGUE Group B final posted a .3 rating and averaged 516,000 viewers during its first hour of primetime, from 10 p.m. to 11 p.m., a Turner source told ESBR on Monday.

For the entire broadcast, which was nearly two hours shorter than its Week 1 counterpart, an average of 386,000 viewers watched underdog Ninjas in Pyjamas decimate G2 Esports in concise fashion, the source said.

Importantly, the figures represented decided week-over-week increases – a trend that was echoed in the betting numbers around the second week of ELEAGUE.

TBS ratings jump

The .3 rating marked an increase from Week 1’s reported .21.

TBS ELEAGUE broadcast personality Jason O’Toole, known in the gaming community as “moses,” tweeted Sunday afternoon that the broadcast averaged a .26. The 516,000 average viewers during the telecast’s first and only primetime hour represent a 1.4 percent increase from Week 1’s 509,000.

The much larger increase came from average viewers throughout the broadcast, a figure that’s jump from 255,000 in Week 1 to 386,000 in Week 2 represented gains of 51 percent. Viewership in the coveted 18-34 male demographic, which one would expect to compose the core of an ELEAGUE broadcast, reportedly experienced “double-digit” gains.

Just as Turner makes available average concurrent viewers on Twitch, but not on TBS, it makes available peak concurrent viewers on Twitch, but not on TBS. In the absence of average concurrent numbers for Twitch, the casting giant saw a week-over-week increase of 4,000, from 92,000 to 96,000 in concurrent viewership.

The 96,000 figure came during Friday night’s broadcast, per a source.

While the exact number of average concurrents is unknown, the source told ESBR that similar to Week 1, the stream regularly averaged more than 50,000 viewers. A close monitoring of the Twitch stream throughout the two-hour bloodbath appeared to reveal a concurrent average consistently in the 30,000 to 40,000-person range.

All told, 276 million gross minutes of footage were consumed between the two broadcasts. The breakdown between how much of that was consumed via Twitch and how much of that was consumed via TBS is unknown.

While these figures aren’t mind-blowing, they’re encouraging when you line them up against other sports properties, such as the NHL and MLS. ELEAGUE ratings so far have outperformed season-long averages for both of the aforementioned leagues.

It’s important to remember, however, that the ELEAGUE has been around for two weeks. Whether the CS:GO league outperforms more established brands over an entire season remains to be seen.

The numbers are also encouraging for Turner and IMG, which produce the live event component of the ELEAGUE, considering that the match was highly one-sided and lacked the intensity and drama of the Week 1 tilt between Luminosity and Cloud9. Average concurrent viewership undoubtedly benefitted in Week 2, however, from a broadcast that was wrapped up just after midnight, as opposed to 2 a.m. EST.

Betting activity sets ELEAGUE record

While the early ratings confirming the public’s interest in watching the ELEAGUE have held steady, the record-setting amount of skins wagering around the Week 2 final illustrated that its interest in betting on CS:GO matches is only growing.

An ELEAGUE record 58,277 people wagered 179,578 items on the G2-NiP match, dwarfing previous ELEAGUE betting records. The largest number of people that had wagered on an ELEAGUE match prior to Friday night was just more than 37,000, and put down 111,000 skins on May 26 for the match between Renegades and Cloud9.

And the ELEAGUE’s numbers aren’t only improving on themselves; they’re extremely relevant to other CS:GO competition around the world. No CS:GO contest anywhere in the world outside the ELEAGUE had even 100,000 skins wagered on it on CSGOL this past week.

Week 2’s ELEAGUE betting activity pushed the average number of items wagered per ELEAGUE match to nearly 60,000. The average item, or skin, per an ESBR analysis, is worth approximately $10.

That puts the real-money value of an average ELEAGUE match handle at around $600,000, and it would project the real-money value of the Ninjas-G2 handle at nearly a staggering $1.8 million. Either of those figures would dwarf the average handle of, say, a Major League Baseball game at a typical Nevada sports book, let alone an NHL or MLS game.

Ratings matching Spring expectations

The second TBS broadcast of the season again featured helpful tutorial videos on the game’s economy, tactical maneuvers like Ninjas’ patented bomb-diffusing process, and lighthearted b-roll of players mugging for the cameras during promotional shoots. All in all, the broadcast hit a groove and went off well, avoiding technical difficulties and awkward lapses in production or commentary.

With the tournament’s round-robin portion just one-third completed, there’s still a lot left to glean from Turner’s televised esports experiment. But it would appear, at least initially, that cable viewership is just meeting tempered expectations.

According to a March report from SportsBusinessJournal, Turner pledged advertisers a .30 rating for the Friday night broadcasts. The May 27 telecast’s .21 rating, by comparison, didn’t even put the ELEAGUE telecast in the top 100 programs on all of primetime cable television that night. Week 2’s telecast, on the other hand, is likely to at least crack that list. In other words, Turner is smartly not promising the moon when it comes to cable ratings, because the moon is not to be found. Yet.

Esports revenue is manufactured in a variety of ways, including sponsorships, live event revenues, merchandise and advertising across different platforms. Being an early leader in the esports live event space could eventually pay dividends for Turner and IMG, even if it doesn’t pay off from a cable perspective right away.

And Turner isn’t alone in this belief. The Pac-12 Conference is developing its own collegiate esports competition that will be based around the live event space, and ESPN is reportedly in talks with Riot to broadcast League of Legends competition.

Image credit: E-League.com

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