By Barry Janoff
April 12, 2016: Supporting what a growing number of marketers and investors already have seen — that the category of eSports is involving more gamers and consumers than ever — Activision Blizzard Media Networks said that Major League Gaming’s Counter-Strike: Global Offensive Major championship set viewership records during its March 30 – April 3 broadcast from Columbus, Ohio.
Activision Blizzard Media Networks said that audiences generated 71 million video views, watched a record 45 million hours of live broadcast and set a record of 1.6 million concurrent viewers across OTT, Web, mobile and in-game streaming during this year’s event.
This breaks the previously-reported CS:GO Major record of 34 million hours viewed and 1.3 million concurrent viewers set at the 2015 CS:GO Major in Cologne, Germany.
“Last year, more than 225 million people watched competitive gaming, and the passion, engagement and size of this audience only continues to grow,” Mike Sepso, svp-Activision Blizzard Media Networks, a division of Activision Blizzard, and co-founder of Major League Gaming, said in a statement.
“As this year’s CS:GO Major numbers show, Activision Blizzard Media Networks’ commitment to broadcasting premium content and creating incredible events is resonating with players and fans around the world," said Sepso.
Among other eSport marquee competitions are League of Legends, Heroes of the Storm, Hearthstone, Street Fighter V and Call of Duty.
According to the Global e-Sports Market Report from NewZoo, a San Francisco-based firm that focuses on the category, brands are expected to spend $128 million on eSports sponsorships and another $197 million on advertising around video content in 2016.
That would bring total brand spend to $325 million, or 70% of all eSports revenues — an increase of 49%. And growth is expected to continue as more brands enter the space.
According to NewZoo, companies are projected to put more than $800 million into eSports by 2019, the same year the total market passes the $1 billion mark.
According to New York-based research and digital goods measurement firm SuperData, the worldwide eSports market was $747.5 million in 2015, with year-over-year revenue growth "largely a result of more brands and advertisers entering the market."
Accounting for other factors, SuperData sees the eSport category growing even more than NewZoo's predicted numbers. Based on such areas as investments, sponsorships and advertising, by 2018 the market is set to reach $1.9 billion with the added growth of direct revenue sources such as betting sites and amateur tournament platforms.
This week, SiriusXM and IGN, a leading Internet media company focused on video games and entertainment, launched a daily eSports satellite radio show dedicated to competitive gaming.
IGN Esports Today airs live every weekday on the SiriusXM Bleacher Report Radio channel, offering news, analysis and insight and advice from notable eEports competitors.
"Activision Blizzard Media Networks’ commitment to broadcasting premium content and creating incredible events is resonating with players and fans."
“There are hundreds of millions of gamers in North America and as the world of eSports continues to grow by leaps and bounds, so too grows the appetite for the kind of insight and advice that can give a player a competitive edge,” Steve Cohen, svp-sports programming for SiriusXM, said in a statement. “We are very excited to team up with IGN to give gamers, nationwide, a truly interactive forum on SiriusXM, a place where they can call in and get valued info and advice from true experts to help them get a leg up on the competition.."
Counter-Strike competitions have been held globally for the past 16 years, with game developer Valve instituting a CS:GO Major system in 2014. The Columbus championship was the eighth CS:GO Major event held since 2013, and the first produced by MLG.
In addition, this year’s CS:GO Major was the first held in North America, with the world’s top CS:GO teams competing for a $1 million prize pool. The competition, held at the Nationwide Arena, home for the NHL's Blue Jackets, drew more than 10,000 fans for each of the three final days of live competition.
eLeague, the professional eSports league established in partnership between Turner and WME | IMG, will debut May 24, with live event coverage featuring Valve’s Counter-Strike: Global Offensive from Turner Studios in Atlanta. Tournament coverage will spanning a 10-week period, leading to the next CS:GO Major Championship this July in the Lanxess Arena, Cologne, Germany.
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