Viewership Comparison in 3 Graphs: OWL vs. NA LCS
Nearly halfway through the year of esports franchising, I wanted to review some high level Twitch viewership data across the two major leagues. This analysis compares NA LCS Spring Split and Overwatch League Stages 1, 2, and 3.
OWL: 12 teams. Global. Exclusively on Twitch. $20M buy in.
NA LCS: 10 teams. US Only. Available on Twitch & YouTube. $10M buy in.NA LCS vs. OWL
Average Concurrent Viewers
Peak Concurrent Viewers
Total Viewed Hours
- Both leagues seem to have ‘normalized’ regular season viewership, with mid season/stage lulls.
- NALCS averages between 110,000-130,000
- OWL is between 90,000-120,000.
- These figures are strong for NA LCS — a league in it’s sixth competitive season — and are impressive for OWL’s inaugural season.
- However, stage over stage OWL viewership is ever-marginally declining.
- The majority of viewership spikes for OWL happen around week one of each stage.
- NA LCS Playoff and Finals attracted increased viewership, OWL Stage Finals did not.
- This is a bit of an apples-oranges comparison because Stage Finals are not as impactful in OWL as Spring Finals are in NA LCS.
- Peak viewership for all of Spring Split of NA LCS occurred during finals with 325k viewers tuning in.
- The quarter final match between TSM and Clutch Gaming (March 25th) had dramatically higher peak viewership (257k) as compared to the 100Thieves vs. Clutch Gaming semi-final (179k) and the third-fourth place match between Clutch Gaming and Echo Fox (152k).
- Hours watched per broadcast is not dramatically different for the two leagues.
- NA LCS garners about 770,000
- OWL gets about 695,000
- That’s a ~10% difference.
- These numbers are Twitch only. The below NA LCS data does not include YouTube.
- OWL is still in season. We didn’t include any Stage 4 data as it is ongoing.
- Trendlines as shown on the graphs take into account all data points. OWL week 1 day 1 is a heavy outlier that affects this.
- NA LCS made a change in broadcast channel (from /nalcs to /riotgames) at the beginning of the Spring Split, which splintered week one viewership, making it difficult to track exact peak & averages.
Questions, comments, concerns? Want to dig deeper? Drop us a line.
PlayVS raises $15M to bring esports infrastructure to high schools
PlayVS, a Los Angeles based startup that is building out esports infrastructure for high schools, has closed a $15M Series A funding round. The round was led by New Enterprise Associates (NEA) with additional participation from the San Francisco 49ers, Science, Crosscut Ventures (Immortals, Vulcun, and Mobcrush), Cross Culture Ventures (Thrive Market, Gimlet), Coatue Management (Uber, Instacart), Nas, Russell Okung, Baron Davis, Kelvin Beachum, Michael Dubin (Co-Founder & CEO, Dollar Shave Club), and Kevin Lin (COO, Twitch). According to ESPN, the company is valued around at around $50M.
PlayVS operates as the official esports league of all high school esports while offering schools a platform to hold tryouts, form teams, schedule games, and pull real time stats from games. PlayVS just publicly launched in April and announced a partnership with the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS), the governing body of all US high school sports. In October, PlayVS will launch their inaugural season that will organize over 5 million students across 5,000 high schools.
PlayVS is critical to the continued development and long term sustainability of esports. Currently, the main alternatives to PlayVS are High School Esports League and Super League Gaming (Disclosure: Catalyst is an investor in SLG). HSEL offers weekend tournaments, LAN parties, Twitch integrations, and infrastructure tools while Super League Gaming offers competitive esports experiences in local movie theaters. However, PlayVS’ is able to differentiate themselves through their partnership with NFHS and their official integration into the high school sports scene.
While top players will still have the option to leave school and go pro (or become streamers), PlayVS will offer an opportunity for other top players to pursue their passions while still planning to graduate and go to college. This will create a more sustainable environment that will produce a few more pros but will, more importantly, create lifelong fans of esports who have played the games competitively themselves.
It will be interesting to see how sponsors integrate within this ecosystem and at what stage they start integrating with these esports athletes.