It is common knowledge that esports is a burgeoning industry, but if it was simply based on those participating at the highest levels alone, then its appeal would be greatly diminished. The real driving factor behind esports’ success has been the ability for players and viewers to tune in to watch these events online. Twitch TV has been one of the key services for precisely that.
Each month, Twitch TV publishes a list of the top content watched. Those figures are revealing, of course, especially with regard to game influence. Before we analyze the viewership figures for January, let’s go back 12 more months for comparison’s sake.
Top Twitch Content – January 2018
- League of Legends – 79.31 million
- CS:GO – 65.73 million
- PUBG – 43.96 million
- Fortnite – 39 million
- IRL (Just Chatting) – 36.76 million
- Hearthstone – 33.15 million
- Overwatch – 28.09 million
- Dota 2 – 25.57 million
- Sea of Thieves – 13.91 million
- Monster Hunter World – 11.05 million
Fast-forward 12 months and the list for January 2019 looks somewhat different.
Top Twitch Content – January 2019
- Fortnite – 94.12 million
- League of Legends – 86.07 million
- Just Chatting – 65.95 million
- Dota 2 – 40.65 million
- CS:GO – 25.95 million
- PUBG – 23.7 million
- Hearthstone – 22.5 million
- Overwatch – 17.25 million
- FIFA 19 – 16.49 million
- Sea of Thieves – 15.27 million
Analysis of the data
What is clear in 2019 is Fortnite’s boom in the previous year. The game garnered almost 55 million more views last month than in January 2018.
Interestingly though, the other big game in this market, Player Unknown Battlegrounds, suffered a dramatic reverse. Its fortunes slipped from almost 44 million views in 2018 down to just 23.7 million.
Then, League of Legends‘ popularity on Twitch remains undimmed. While the game dropped one spot from top to second in the chart in January, the number of views it received increased by almost 10 percent.
However, the figures make stark reading for CS:GO fans. Their title saw a huge drop off in popularity over the course of the year. In January 2018, CS:GO lay second in the table with 65.73 million views. That dropped sharply to 25.95 million.
These charts tend to mirror trends in esports. Yet they also highlight that the richest esports are not necessarily the ones fans want to watch. In terms of revenue, Dota 2 is by far the richest esports game available today, thanks largely to the huge prize pools generated for The International. Admittedly, January is a relatively quiet month for top Dota 2 action, but even so, the game still attracted fewer than half the viewers of either Fortnite or League of Legends.
What could the figures for January 2020 look like?
My main prediction is we’ll see more interest in FIFA streams, especially with a number of top FIFA-based esports tournaments planned for the year, including the eagerly awaited ePremier League. I feel the gameplay of FIFA and the fact it is based on the most popular sport in the world makes it likely to climb this list in 11 months.
I would also expect CS:GO to bounce back in 2020. The scene is looking particularly exciting at the moment with Astralis’ dominance starting to be tested by a number of emerging teams. That drama could attract more eyes from around the world.
However, I don’t think we’ll see a change at the top of the charts. Both League of Legends and Fortnite will likely dominate the streams in 2019 once again.