ELEAGUE, the $1.4 million Counter-Strike: Global Offensive project organized by Turner Broadcasting and talent agency WME/IMG, premiered on TBS last Friday and averaged 509,000 total viewers.
— ELEAGUE (@ELEAGUETV) May 28, 2016
Last September, Turner Broadcasting announced it was partnering with WME/IMG for a new esports project that turned into the ELEAGUE. It’s a CS:GO league that includes 24 teams from around the world competing in two 10-week seasons annually.
Each season includes a regular season, playoffs and a championship, as well as a $1.2 million prize pool.
Since the project was announced, industry observers have speculated whether esports really can draw large television numbers similar to traditional sports events of the same structure.
To boost the potential success of ELEAGUE, Turner and WME/IMG struck a two-year deal with Twitch to broadcast games Tuesday through Thursday, with Twitch’s observer feed on Friday night during the main event and the full broadcast being shown exclusively on TBS.
A successful opening week
According to ELEAGUE’s official website, its opening week delivered more than 150 million gross minutes of video consumption and consistently registered the number one channel on Twitch.
Additionally, the TBS coverage of ELEAGUE on Friday ranked as the second most-discussed program of the night across the social media platform Twitter, with 360 million impressions for the keywords ELEAGUE, @EL, TBS, Luminosity and Cloud9.
ELEAGUE videos were streamed on Twitch 4.3 million times from its debut on Tuesday through Friday night, with a peak concurrent viewership of more than 92,000 concurrent streams. It regularly averaged more than 50,000 concurrent streams, which is approximately double the delivery of a traditional non-major esports competition on the platform.
Even though Turner is not the first company to broadcast esports on a national station, the statistics provide good insight as to how well-received these events can be.
Group B started Tuesday
Group B of ELEAGUE continued Tuesday, featuring G2 Esports, Ninjas in Pyjamas, OpTic Gaming and Selfless, a team that replaced the Chinese team TyLoo after it had trouble obtaining visas.
Coverage will be available via Twitch on Tuesday and Wednesday starting at 12 p.m. EST and Thursday at 2 p.m.
TBS will present a Friday night showcase at 10 p.m., with simultaneous coverage available on Twitch.