The popularity and future of a sport can often be determined by viewership of its professional leagues. Tomorrow’s superstars develop their lifelong passions for their game by watching today’s stars. Lebron grew up watching Michael Jordan and Allen Iverson, Patrick Mahomes watched Tom Brady, and so on. Each new generation of stars goes on to continue to grow their game in all levels – from adding to the popularity in the professional ranks through increasing team registrations in youth leagues.
The Growth of eSports According to Viewership
A simple way to determine the popularity of a professional sport is to inspect the viewership of its marquee event – the championship game. Viewership numbers for the Big-5 American sports and the major annual eSports tournament, the League of Legends World Championship, are provided below. Amazingly, for the 2022/2023 professional sports seasons, the League of Legends eSports championship outperformed the National Hockey League (NHL) and Major League Soccer (MLS) combined. This feat is all the more remarkable considering the championship date coincided with those of the MLS and MLB.
What’s even more noteworthy is the rate of growth of eSports viewership. For reference, the 2020 League of Legends Final only drew in 1.1 million viewers. At a similar rate of growth, eSports can expect audiences that rival the NBA and MLB within the next couple of years.
Championship Game Viewership of the Big-5 Sports and eSports
- ’23 Superbowl (2/12/23): 115.1 million viewers
- ’23 NBA Final (6/12/23): 13.08 million viewers
- ’22 MLB World Series Final (11/5/22): 12.87 million viewers
- ’22 League of Legends Final (11/5/22): 5.15 million viewers
- ’23 NHL Final (6/13/23): 2.72 million viewers
- ’22 MLS Final (11/5/22): 2.16 million viewers
From the Big Leagues to the Little Leagues
Kids striving to be the next Shohei Ohtani or Lionel Messi live out their fantasies on the baseball diamond behind the elementary school or the field in the park down the road. With the rapid growth of eSports, it’s all the more important to provide children looking to be the next Lee “Faker” Sanghyuk or Johan “N0tail” Sundstein to have safe and supportive places to practice and competitive leagues to hone their skills.
Maybe the 10’s of millions of viewers that tune in to the League of Legends championships of 2030 will hear a winner thank your school district for being the place her skills blossomed.