ESL’s Major Esports Tournaments See 90% Growth in Viewership

Hours watched are up 190%, views up 55% from last year

ESL has reported significant growth across multiple metrics for major ESL tournaments. In the first seven months of this year, average-minute audience (+90%), hours watched (+190%), and video views (+55%) have increased significantly, thanks to fans’ tuning into ESL One, Intel Extreme Masters, and ESL Pro League tournaments, shattering the numbers recorded in 2018.

The top four months in this time period recorded large spikes for major ESL competitions. Intel Extreme Masters Katowice in March, for example, attracted more than 174,000 attendees over two weekends, setting the record as the most-watched ESL tournament series of all time.

In May, both ESL One Birmingham and Intel Extreme Masters Sydney surpassed the previous viewership figures from last year’s tournaments.

ESL Pro League Occitanie in June also broke its all-time viewership records, making this season the most watched in the league’s history.

ESL One Cologne in July clocked the most hours watched for a non-major CS:GO tournament and was sold-out for the fourth consecutive year.

“This growth in viewership and interest is humbling to see,” says ESL CEO Ralf Reichert. “ESL’s open ecosystem enables us to work with a variety of games. That allows ESL to build standout, innovative properties — such as IEM Katowice and ESL One Cologne and Birmingham — and see them thrive and grow over the years. We will continue to go that extra mile for a world where everybody can be somebody, creating a path for everybody to participate in these tournaments to build memorable moments for players, fans, partners.”

ESL 2019 milestones

ESL One Cologne, widely known as “The Cathedral of Counter-Strike,” sold out four years in a row and recorded 12.3 million hours watched, resulting in a new record for most hours watched for a non-major CS:GO tournament. Team Liquid took home a total of $1,115,000 for winning first place and completing the second-ever Intel Grand Slam, winning four premier ESL and DreamHack Masters tournaments inside a stretch of 10 in a record time of 63 days.

The ESL Pro League Season 9 and its Finals at the Sud de France Arena in Occitanie, France, broke its all-time viewership records. Doubling video views to 66.6 million compared with Season 8 and reaching more than 16.1 million hours watched, this was the most watched season of Pro League in its history.

ESL One Birmingham, the UK’s largest esports tournament, surpassed the highest viewership for an ESL One Dota 2 event thus far. The tournament reached a new peak record of 306,070 concurrent viewers tuning into the broadcast, which is a rise of 12.4% since its latest record, which was set during the Hamburg Major in 2017. Hours watched also saw a very significant jump, with more than 7.6 million hours consumed over the course of the Dota 2-filled weekend.

This year’s IEM Sydney surpassed all previous viewership records for an esports tournament held in Australia, with more than 20 million viewers tuning in during the event. Counter-Strike fans across the world watched almost 10 million hours of content over the course of the event, up 16% vs. 2018. It was the tournament’s third stop in Sydney, its 75th stop globally since its inception in 2006.

Along with 174,000 fans attending the tournaments and surrounding expo over two weekends, 20 million people tuned in on each day, resulting in significant growth across major viewer metrics and making the competition the most watched ESL tournament series of all time. The event was broadcast by both linear and digital partners worldwide, who produced and distributed content in 21 languages.

ESL had a significant role in shaping the industry in terms of broadcast, production, and event experience across the world’s most prestigious esports brands and products, pioneering stadium tournaments and consistently breaking industry records. The brand refresh was a key cornerstone of ESL’s growth-acceleration strategy and better integrated its partner brands by clarifying the path from zero to hero across ESL’s multiple leagues and tournaments, growing its massive fanbase.

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