Activision Blizzard Media Networks, Blizzard’s eSports division, announced earlier this week that MLG’s Counter-Strike: Global Offensive Major Championship set new viewership records during its March 30 – April 3 broadcast.
According to the report, audiences generated 71 million video views and saw a peak of 1.6 million concurrent viewers.
This CS:GO Major, which was held in Columbus, Ohio, has surpassed the CS:GO Major record of 34 million hours viewed and 1.3 million concurrent viewers from the 2015 CS:GO Major in Cologne, Germany.
Blizzard Media Networks has been beefing up
“Last year, more than 225 million people watched competitive gaming, and the passion, engagement and size of this audience only continues to grow,” said Mike Sepso, Senior Vice President of Activision Blizzard Media Networks and Major League Gaming (MLG) co-founder. “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.”
Aiming at becoming the ESPN of eSports, Activision Blizzard established its eSports division in October last year, recruiting former ESPN CEO Steve Bornstein and MLG Co-founder Mike Sepso and appointing him as the division’s chairman and senior vice president. To further strengthen its roster, the company also acquired MLG, the well-known eSports tournament organizer and broadcaster, in December 2015.
Big audience, big cash prizes
The 2016 CS:GO major was the first major held in North America and had a prize pool of $1 million, the biggest prize pool for a first-person-shooter so far. The tournament was held at the Nationwide Arena in Columbus, and drew a crowd of over 10,000 enthusiasts for each of the three final days of live competition.
During the final moments, the event had a peak concurrent viewership of 1.6 million, topping last year’s 1.3 million from Cologne, Germany. Overall, MLG produced 68 hours of premium content broadcast in 15 languages during the event.
Having over 225 million unique viewers, the competitive gaming or eSports audience is projected to be bigger than audiences for many other professional sports leagues. Creating premium content for these audiences provides significant opportunities in ticket sales, advertising, sponsorships, licensing, and merchandising, as well as aiding in growing the eSports betting industry.
CS:GO betting sites and those focused on other titles like Dota 2 and League of Legends have experienced tremendous growth alongside the competitive eSports industry. According to NewZoo, a market research company focused on the eSports industry, the viewership for eSports is projected to grow to over 300 million by 2017.
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