New report shows just how much esports viewing and livestreaming has increased during lockdown

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It’s a given that esports viewing and livestreaming has increased during the COVID-19 epidemic, with more people staying at home and watching broadcasts, but by how much?

A new joint report by IDC and Esports Charts found that Twitch livestreaming hours watched (and esports tournament hours watched) have nearly doubled since the pandemic began.

The COVID-19 Pandemic’s Effects on Esports and Livestreaming report looked at the period from September 2019 to May 2020.

Twitch hours watched in May were up 99% to 1.72bn, compared to 867m hours watched in December 2019.

Across Twitch’s 15 most consistently popular games from September 2019
to May 2020, a list topped by League of Legends, Fortnite, Counter-Strike:
Global Offensive, Grand Theft Auto V, and Dota 2, total hours watched spiked at 88%.

Across 15 comparable tournaments that were reviewed in the pre- and post-pandemic periods, for example LCK 2019 Spring and LCK 2020 Spring, hours watched were up 114% in the post-pandemic period and the average number of viewers increased by two thirds.

“While the number of total hours watched has consistently risen for tournaments across this period, uncertainty regarding physical events is yet apparent.”

Artyom Odintsov, Esports Charts

“Given the developing nature of both esports and streaming, we are very happy to be collaborating with IDC to bring factual data to the forefront of the market.

Having analysed the impacts of COVID-19, we are confident that the industry as a whole may be better informed and prepared to react to future occurrences of this scope,” said Artyom Odintsov, CEO of Esports Charts.

“While the number of total hours watched has consistently risen for tournaments across this period, uncertainty regarding physical events is yet apparent. As the esports and streaming industries continue to expand and develop, we will be very interested to see how they will be impacted in the long term by both COVID-19 and other market factors.”

Lewis Ward, research director, gaming and AR/VR research at IDC, added: “Something that I think is easy to overlook in the Twitch results is that multiplatform games have significantly outperformed PC-only titles since the pandemic hit.

“Among the top 15 most consistently popular games, for example, 55% of Twitch hours watched last December were multiplatform games and this share increased to 62% in May.

“The combination of Twitch’s popularity in North America and Western Europe, the popularity of multiplatform games in these regions, and the massive impact that COVID-19 stay-at-home orders have had on people in these regions since March explains the bulk of this change, but if this trend doesn’t reverse over time, it could have important implications for game publishers as well as esports tournament and league operators.”

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