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Viewership for the Summer Split of Riot Games’ League of Legends Championship Series and LoL European Championship saw an increase in total hours watched but a decline in average viewership on Twitch this year.
Coverage of the two leagues on Riot Games’ official Twitch channel was 33.1M hours watched from June 1-Sept. 15, up from 29M hours watched for the two leagues last year from June 15-Sept. 16. However, average viewership for the channel this year was 41K concurrent viewers, down 7% from 44K CCV.
The dip in average viewership for the leagues being paired with an increase in total hours watched can be attributed largely to a staggered schedule for LCS and LEC this year, something that Riot Games did not do last year.
In 2018, the leagues, known then as the North American LCS and European LCS, held their Summer Split, Summer Playoff, and Regionals on the same weeks leading to one less week of broadcasts.
This year, Riot Games has been staggering the start of LCS and LEC Splits by having one league start a week before the other to give each a week all to their own during each Split. In the spring, the staggering of LCS and LEC opening weekends led to a surge in viewership that kept the two leagues seeing year-over-year increases in viewership as the LEC opened its first season with new branding and a franchise model.
That success didn’t translate as much to the Summer Split for the two leagues, though. In the Spring, Riot Games coverage of LCS and LEC action on its official channel generated 38.3M hours watched with an average of 57K CCV. That was up from 31.3M hours watched for the Spring Split last year, which also had an average CCV of 57K.
Because the LCS started play on Riot Games’ Twitch channel a week before the LEC, it’s difficult to isolate each portion of the Summer Split, playoffs, and World Championship Regionals in order to compare year-over-year numbers for each.
However, looking at the average viewership for Riot Games’ channel from the beginning of June when the LCS season started, and Sept. 17, when the LEC regular season ended, average viewership for regular season play was down slightly. The average viewership of 40K CCV for the Riot Games channel included a week of LCS playoffs due to this year’s staggered split starts and viewership was still down from 42K CCV for the regular season play last year.
Additionally, average viewership was down more significantly during the time where playoff action was happening. Because the regular season for LEC and regionals for LCS happened during the period of time in which playoff action was covered on the Riot Games channel, the average CCV from Aug. 10-Sept. 8 was 54K CCV, down from 63K CCV a year before when all playoff action for each league happened during the same weeks.
While the staggered starts of LCS and LEC don’t explain the drop in overall CCV this year, they serve as a complication for analyzing viewership across both leagues. One potential explanation for Riot’s dip in average CCV from last year could be a peripheral factor.
About halfway through June, Riot Games released the beta for a strategy-based gamemode in LoL called Teamfight Tactics, which seemingly cannibalized some of LoL’s viewership on Twitch. After the new gamemode started being streamed on Twitch by a number of influencers, the hours watched per week for Riot Games’ channel took a dip beginning on June 27.
Though average viewership was down 3K CCV (a decline of 7%) this year from last year, the difference is minuscule enough that a peripheral factor such as a new game by Riot coming out could be potentially influential in affecting the overall average audience of the Summer Splits.
It could even be seen as overly critical to look at Riot Games’ leagues in a vacuum and only compare them to themselves year-over-year. Throughout the course of the Summer Split, Riot Games was the second most-watched channel on Twitch, behind only the Overwatch League, but the LoL esports channel had more than double the average viewership of OWL.
Following a Spring Split in which growth for both the LCS and LEC was strong, having a decrease in average viewership in the summer could be seen as a potential red flag for Riot Games’ most-watched esports leagues. Considering that it was paired with a notable increase in total hours watched though, it’s fairly safe to say that Riot Games’ leagues have a healthy audience relative to other esports leagues.
Editor’s Note: Figures on Riot Games’ main channel don’t reflect the entirety of LEC coverage on Twitch. There are numerous alternative-language broadcast partners for the league that include O’Gaming TV (French), LVP (Spanish), Polsat Games by Frenzy (Polish), Summornser Inn Live by Freaks4U Gaming (German), and PG Esports (Italian). Though these alternatives provide a plethora of options for European viewers, in order to find consistency in year-over-year statistics, growth is measured most effectively using the main Riot Games broadcast.
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