Major League Gaming's Streaming Investment Pays Off With Big Viewership Numbers

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Steve Anderson
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Major League Gaming's Streaming Investment Pays Off With Big Viewership Numbers

It wasn't so long ago when we were hearing about Major League Gaming's plans to step up to a complete streaming platform. While the field of e-sports itself has been making some fairly substantial gains of late, the numbers for MLG in particular have been seeing some staggering gains, and the streaming platform is said to be responsible for a pretty large chunk of that gain.

Back during the first quarter—just a few months ago—MLG was reporting some pretty big gains to its platform thanks to the relaunched MLG.tv streaming site. The relaunch, meanwhile, gave the platform some new life thanks to some rebranding as a complete destination site for tournaments and related original programming. But with the first quarter of 2014 concluded, the numbers can be solidified, and they're impressive by most any standard: viewership is up 1,376 percent over the same time in 2013. That's basically 13 times the viewership previously, and that's the kind of development that might stagger most any imagination.

But this isn't just people popping in on a five-minute smoke and video break, either; the average MLG.tv viewer is there for 157 minutes per session. That's a little better than two and a half hours a session, and considering the place has millions of viewers a month, that's a major stroke indeed.

Some might attribute this to recent roster changes within MLG as well, after bringing in Ryan Wyatt—formerly head of e-sports for Machinima—to handle programming duties. After all, if there's nothing to watch, then what's the point of having a streaming platform? It's kind of like a gaming system that has no games.

But that's half the point of this entire operation. E-sports is a major force, and those who don't believe that such could ever be the case—who would watch people play video games?--the numbers are sitting right there. The hours spent watching by the average viewer, the sheer numbers of viewers...it's getting to that point, and it's downright amazing. But then, this makes some sense. I've already heard more than once about how some folks who used to be gamers now catch up on gaming by watching “Let's Play” videos, so why wouldn't the concept of e-sports grow as well? Moreover, there's little functional difference between watching people play football and watching people play “Madden NFL 25”. Add on the fact that MLG.tv essentially has its own built-in ESPN with Chris Puckett's “eSports Report” and that only makes it more worth watching for those who might already watch sports. Its strictly online format, its ease of access—just go to MLG.tv and watch—and significantly lower prices and commercial delays and the whole thing just starts to make that weird kind of sense that things really only make when you start thinking about them.

While only time will tell if this phenomenon can keep going, or if it will maintain its strength into the future and beyond, there's certainly enough to suggest that it can indeed keep going, and keep going for some time to come. Future avenues for expansion yet exist—think “e-sports bar”--and that's a combination that should make for big things to come.

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