Apples and Oranges: Misleading Statistics in Esports, Part 1
We’ve all seen the flashing headlines: the such-and-such video game world championship was BIGGER than the xyz sports-ball final. Esports analysts, pundits, and journalists are quick to jump the gun with clickbait headlines that mislead their readership.
Forget the nonsense – let’s take a deeper look at what metrics actually matter.
There are two major tracks that we look at when analyzing a broadcast, social post, or media piece: viewership and engagement. This post will cover viewership and part 2 — to be released later, will cover engagement.
Viewership. How Many? Who? Where?
Without context, viewership numbers are (almost) meaningless. One billion views may seem like a lot until you realize they’re coming from a click farm in Bangladesh. The simple size of a broadcast can garner jaw-dropping headlines, or even help you build a $10B+ company — but in our digital first world a deeper analysis can reveal the actual story behind a broadcast.
What’s in a number? We’ll break it down by the two most popular video viewing services and what they provide on their back-end: Twitch & YouTube.
Note: most of these numbers can also be found publically. Email us and we’ll tell you how.
Twitch – Live
- Total Viewable Hours – If you have one viewer watching you live for one hour, you have one viewable hour. If you have one-thousand viewers watching you for one hour, you have one-thousand viewable hours. This is the all-encompassing and most important metric – it provides an easy to compare data point across streams. Pro tip: multiply by 60 to really impress your sponsors with how many amazing minutes you delivered to them this month.
- Average Concurrent Viewers (CCV) – On average, how many people were viewing the stream for its duration. Can provide a quick comparison/analysis point between two streams or streamers. Doesn’t provide the full viewership story alone but can indicate the rough popularity of stream or channel. Big individual streamers will break 20,000 average concurrents regularly and major esports events will be in the hundreds of thousands.
- Total Unique Viewers – How many different individuals tuned in? This number provides a good metric for your broadcast’s scope, but it should always be analyzed alongside average concurrents. If a 10 hour stream has 1 million uniques and 10,000 average concurrents how engaged was your audience, really? More on the importance of this next time.
- Max Concurrents – This number measures the maximum total unique viewers at the peak of a broadcast. Alone, this number has turned blue-chip CMO’s heads 360 degrees and deceived soccer moms into believing that esports is the biggest thing ever in the history of the world. That’s not to say max concurrents isn’t important – it’s just not the whole story. Did you know that over 80 million people watched the League of Legends Worlds 2017 semifinal? Impressive! And somewhat irrelevant. We’ll cover why more deeply in part two but let’s just say most of these viewers aren’t coming from anywhere remotely valuable to US advertisers.
YouTube – Video on Demand (VOD)
- Total Video Views (previous #X days) – This metric will give you total viewership across a relevant timeline for a YouTube channel. It does not take into account how many videos were posted but it does give a good comparison point between two channels regardless of their subscribers and number of weekly posts.
- Average Video Views (previous #X days) – In contrast with the above metric, this one does take into account how many views each video will roughly generate. Equally important as Total Video Views – the two should be analyzed together.
- Most Popular – How many views did the most viewed video on a creator’s channel get? When did this video happen? How often has the creator been able to produce videos with close to their max views? All important questions that show the upper limit of a creator.
- Audience Demographics – Whereas Twitch does not provide an in-depth look at who views a stream, YouTube provides some important baseline metrics that can inform a broadcaster or advertiser about the channel’s audience.
- It’s not uncommon for an esport channel to skew overwhelmingly (90%+) under 34. YouTube breaks this down into further brackets allowing for marketers everywhere to salivate at all. the. data.
- When we say that esports viewership is primarily Male, boy, do we mean it. And YouTube can confirm.
- Did you notice that over half your views are coming from abroad? Do you even care? Hmmm…
- Subscribers – The least relevant statistic, but must be understood in the broader context of YouTube’s current algorithm (*subject to change at any moment without prior disclosure or explanation). Hitting that subscribe button used to be the most valuable thing a viewer could do to support their favorite creator but today’s savvy marketers can easily look beyond the total number of people who might, somehow, some-way, see what is posted to exactly how many people saw it. Views as a proportion of subscribers is an extremely important engagement statistic which will be discussed in more detail in part two. Total subs is a nice, easy to spout number which in and of itself has relatively little value.
We hope you found this viewership segment helpful. Don’t be fooled by misleading headlines and rubbish statistics – analyze everything you read with the lens of a viewership expert which you inevitably are now.
Did we miss any that you think are important? Drop us a line and give us your reasoning. Maybe we’ll mention you next time.
Time to Diversify
The NFL experienced a larger year-over-year (YoY) drop in average viewership for regular season games in 2017 than it did the year prior, The Wall Street Journal.
The average audience for a 2017 regular season NFL game was 14.9 million, down 9.7% from 2016. Also in 2016 the average viewership for an NFL games dropped 8% YoY. Even with the consistent decrease in ratings last year (2016-2017) the NFL noticed a 4.2% increase in team sponsorship spending and several new league wide sponsors as well.
NFL brands who sponsor teams should look at diversifying their spending against the growing young male esports audience.
Brands that are spending millions on NFL team sponsorships should take a page out of many professional team owners playbooks, including NFL owners, and invest in esports teams.
Professional owners understand esports teams are built on top of a digitally native audience delivering consistent year-over-year audience growth, encompassing multiple game IP with diverse male audiences, highly engaged fans and targeted impressions in the hundreds of millions.
Instead of investing more dollars into NFL team sponsorships with potentially diminishing returns brands can utilize a small fraction of their budget to obtain significant value.
Brands — like team owners — need to take advantage of this generational audience shift and as franchised leagues start to expand the time is now.