E-Sports Broadcasting Finds Gains, Losses

Steve Anderson : End Game
Steve Anderson
The Video Store Guy
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E-Sports Broadcasting Finds Gains, Losses

The idea that e-sports could be considered a mature market may actually be a little more likely thanks to some recent news from the field. Two separate pieces have come together to suggest that this market may be farther along than some might think, and it's news that illustrates both gain in the field and loss as well.

First, the gain. E-sports broadcasting is getting a whole new force in the market, and it's from a force that we probably should have seen coming: Valve. Valve recently introduced Steam Broadcasting, a system that allows Steam players to upload footage of their various gaming adventures to both the Steam client and to the Web as a whole, which allows viewers in on the action. Right now, Steam Broadcasting is just in a testing phase, but it's likely to expand outward from there, and anyone who's willing to get in on Steam's newest beta can get in on Steam Broadcasting.

Second, the loss. The League of Legends finals recently took place, and as expected, it packed in a pretty powerful audience of 27 million folks, roughly. The problem with that is that last year's League of Legends finale brought in 32 million folks for the action, which means about a 15 percent drop in viewership. However, what's noteworthy about this is that while the gross numbers were down, the average length of viewership was up. Fewer watched, yes, but those who showed up watched for longer on average, averaging about 67 minutes of viewership against last year's 42 minutes. That's a positive development in the net reckoning, as while there may be fewer viewers total, those viewers represent a lot more viewership total. That makes the package more attractive to advertisers, who are getting access to the truly hard-core viewer as opposed to the dilettantes as well.

But even as one field is declining a bit, a whole new field is opening up in the process. These are signs of a market no longer easily described as emerging, but rather as mature. There are moves within the market itself. There are new entrants into the field, from established names and properties. These are characteristics of a market beginning to mature. Consolidation by leading competitors—Amazon's purchase of Twitch, for example—is helping to tamp down intensity of competition, and product innovation itself is taking more of a back seat to the differences offered by individual products.

Oh, we'll likely still see new innovations come out. We'll see changes and advancements, gains and losses. This is all part and parcel of a market as a whole. But by like token, this is a thing now, and these two bits of news should drive the point home. We are living in an age where video games can be fodder for entertainment without even having to play them, and that's a powerful thing.

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