Another illustration of the pulling power of this popular vertical as televised broadcast and social media interest booms
The numbers are in from Friday's inaugural and much anticipated Counter Strike: Global Offensive eSports tournament organised by ELEAGUE (http://www.e-league.com/) and aired live on the Turner Sports Broadcasting network… and the statistics illustrate once again the massive millennial demographic interest in this form of skilled and competitive entertainment.
TBS reported viewership figures in excess of 509,000 during its primetime Friday night slot. ELEAGUE was also broadcast internationally via local networks throughout Europe, South East Asia and Latin America as well as via Huamao in China and Starladder in Russia.
The interest was mirrored on social media and networks, with ELEAGUE social media accounts reaching 27 million impressions on Facebook and Twitter, and 710 million impressions on the ELEAGUE in general, the teams involved, and the TBS channel.
Twitter boomed, with ELEAGUE the second most discussed on the inaugural night… and the tournament attracted 4.3 million views on the Twitch streaming channel over the four days of the competition.
The excitement continues this week when Group B teams Ninjas in Pyjamas, OpTic Gaming, Selfless Gaming and G2 Esports fight it out for a place in the finals.
The 10-week championship series is streamed live from Turner Studios in Atlanta, and is headlined by E-League, a pro league formed by Turner Sports and partner global talent management and events firm WME/IMG.
The first outing performed exceptionally well in a tough primetime slot.
Craig Barry, Turner Sports evp of production and chief content officer, has committed the network to extensive coverage of the Eleague, promising not only to screen the competitive action and commentary, but also to present backstories on players and the general interest pieces that millennial fans have indicated they want.
"We understand our obligation to the hard-core fan. Once you have that emotional connection, you open the door for a wider audience," he said.
Advertising and marketing publications have picked up on the burgeoning genre, noting that there were 112 major eSports events around the world that generated over $20 million in ticket sales and handed out $61 million in total prize money last year, and the 2015 League of Legends World Championship drew 36 million unique viewers on Twitch and other streams around the globe.
Revenues from advertising, sponsorships, merchandise and ticket sales are projected to reach $463 million in 2016, and surpass $1 billion by 2019, according to the independent research organisation Newzoo.
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