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  • Writer's pictureGFR Fund

Will Live-streaming Save the Super Bowl?

eSports Streaming Gains Momentum While Super Bowl TV Viewership Declines

(Photo from Riot Games)

While #SuperBowl viewership has been on a steady decline since 2016, #eSports fans are tuning in to livestreams of major pro gaming events in record numbers. For contrast, the November 2018 #League of Legends World Championship finals hosted by Riot Games in November 2018 saw 99.6 million unique viewers globally, whereas the 2019 Super Bowl had 98.2 million people tuning in on TV and another 2.6 million on the livestream. While the viewership numbers for Super Bowl might still seem large, it has dropped by more than 12.5 million viewers in the last two years alone, resulting in #eSports tournaments’ viewership catching up rapidly. Historically, major tournaments like the #LoL World Championship, attracting close to 100 million online streamers worldwide, would have "broken the Internet," but innovations in digital network infrastructures have made eSports networks scalable and secure enough to withstand over 100 million simultaneous streams today.

This weekend, eSports streaming network ESTV is hosting a Super Bowl gaming event in Miami with the NFL Alumni Association. The four-day SuperFest Miami LIVE Super Bowl celebration runs through Sunday, Feb 2 and brings together former NFL athletes, pro eSports players and a multitude of gaming fans. ESTV streams on Roku, Amazon FireTV and Samsung TV Plus.

At GFR, we are interested to see how live-streaming can resuscitate major TV events that have suffered from a decline in viewership. Last year's 2.6M streams of the Super Bowl helped it top League of Legends, but just barely. DOT eSports is tracking viewership numbers for this year's Super Bowl and LoLWC broadcasts, so after the 49er's play the Chiefs, we will be checking back with them for an update.

GFR Fund is motivated to invest in companies that are developing #livestreaming technology as a foundation for eSports and other large scale events, just as #edgecomputing has done for reducing lag time in areas like gaming, as proven by our newest portfolio company Edgegap.

Culturally, video games and football are two of the most popular pastimes that parents are using to bond with their kids. Gamers who have grown up with the industry are now parents with kids of their own, who are also playing video games. Combining the two makes a lot of sense for content producers. The success of EA's Madden football franchise is a testament to the popularity of games and football as a unified activity!

Relevant links: Most watched eSports events of 2019:

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