We’ve all seen people compare esports events viewership to that of the Super Bowl, but it’s not an accurate or fair comparison. It’s hard to know that viewership is growing without actually taking the time to review the statistics and understand the context of different events.
Esports Insider collaborates with esports analytical firm Esports Charts to take a look at event viewership on a month-by-month basis. This time round, however, we’re presenting the most watched esports events of 2019.
As a note, Chinese platforms have been excluded from all figures that follow.
Most hours watched
Based on the amount of sheer hours watched, the League of Legends World Championship dominated the competition in 2019. One thing worth noting, though, is just how long the competition ran for. During its almost-month-long campaign, it was hosted in Berlin, Germany; Madrid, Spain; and Paris, France. The length of the event – with the best teams from each region battling it out against each other – made it a spectacle in its own right and amassed over 137 million hours watched.
Far behind was Dota 2’s The International 2019 with 88 million hours watched, firmly securing itself in second place. The events that followed still put up impressive statistics, with the IEM Katowice Major, StarLadder Major Berlin, and Mid-Season Invitational amassing 53 million, 45 million, and 43 million respectively.
Moving into the most watched tournaments in terms of average viewership, the events in question change dramatically. League of Legends World Championship and The International 2019 were both hits with 1 million and 726,000 average viewers respectively, but other events trumped them.
The finals of the Fortnite World Cup narrowly bested the League of Legends World Championship, maintaining an average viewer base of 1.1 million – though the event itself lasted for a much shorter amount of time when the two are compared. The most popular event based on this metric was the Free Free World Series Rio with 1.2 million average viewership!
Peak viewership for events in 2019 vary quite differently from hours watched and average viewership, though the League of Legends World Championship remained a force to be reckoned with peak viewership of 3.9 million – an incredible figure no other event got anywhere remotely close to. Once you look past Riot Games’ flagship tournament, the playing field is a lot more level.
The Fortnite World Cup Finals reached a peak of 2.3 million viewers, with the Free Fire World Series Rio maxing out at 2 million. Rounding out the top five events are The International 2019 and the Mid-Season Invitational – another global League of Legends affair – with 1.9 million and 1.7 million respectively.
So, it’s clear that depending on the lens in which you view ‘popularity’ when it comes to events, the outcomes can vary wildly. Utilising any metric, it’s clear that the League of Legends Worlds Championship was a stand-out occasion in the calendar and will likely be one again in 2020.
Free Fire is not a game to dismiss when it comes to popularity, while Dota 2 certainly needs its flagship The International series to remain in the picture as one of the most viewed titles in the industry.