Today we'll be taking a look at the Top 10 most watched channels.
About the explosion: I chose to display an explosion at the end of riotgames' bar to represent the fact that I did not use for that bar the same proportions I used for the 9 others. This is because the difference between the 1st and 2nd channels is huge as you may have noticed: riotgames' Hours Watched represent 263% of esl_csgo's. Had I used the same proportions for all 10 bars, bars 2 to 9 would have looked skinnier than Gollum on a diet.
I already used an explosion for dataviz a few months ago when the French-language broadcasts of the LCS World Finals had boosted ogaminglol's numbers quite significantly. Retrospectively, I think it worked in terms of dataviz and I intend to keep using explosions in infographics in that very specific case: when the 1st rank scores at least double from the 2nd.
To analyze this top 10 channels scoreboard, we'll break down the entries into 4 channel types:
4 Esports Producers: 1 riotgames / 2 esl_csgo / 4 beyondthesummit / 5 dreamhackcs
These 4 are the top channels for esports tournaments and leagues live streaming on League of Legends, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and DotA 2. They all focus on 1 game only and they're owned by 3 companies specialized in producing and broadcasting esports. They are LA-based www.riotgames.com">Riot Games (riotgames), Stockholm-based www.mtg.com">Modern Times Group (esl_csgo and dreamhackcs) and also LA-based Beyond The Summit (beyondthesummit), which is the youngest and smallest of the 3 companies.
Riotgames' stellar performance of course raises the question as to how they could achieve it... The answer is not that easy of course but it has to have something to do with the fact they're the only game publisher in the list and they have invested the most money into Esports live production, by far. This investment comes as a result of their choice of using Esports as their main, if not only, marketing tool. So in a way it's only natural their main channel hits viewership records. Still a lot would need to be said as many have tried to throw money at esports and they will tell you it's really not what's it's all about. Even though money is crucial, it's far from all as obviously there is a kind of magic in making games, just like in the rest of the entertainment industry there's a lot of uncertainty tied to creation, and it looks like League of Legends got hit by some sort of powerful buff spell.
Following the Californian publisher's channel, MTG owned esl_csgo and dreamhackcs are channels produced by old school esports-focused organizations, ESL (company name: Turtle Entertainment) from Cologne, Germany and Dreamhack, based out of Stockholm in Sweden, which basically have consistantly been running the biggest gaming leagues and esports events in the West for the past 15 years and even more for ESL. And they're still around! And that means a lot: surviving as an esports-focused company between the late 1990's and 2010 required a lot of passion, or insanity, but also a very-focused and down-to-earth drive for success and sustainability. With what is left of MLG now in the hands of Activision, the latest of the esports dinosaurs to fall, ESL and Dreamhack can be looked at as survivor organizations which developed extremely rare skills and infrastructure that now allow them to run top quality esports events anywhere in the West, even in Asia to some extent. All of their live viewership is coming from the events and leagues they run, and as the channel names show in the scoreboard, they had the biggest success showing Counter-Strile: Global Offensive in 2015.
These esports events happen to generate the highest viewership peaks on Twitch, they're like little Super Bowl's. Last August, the eslcsgo channel recorded 23M Hours Watched, that's 32% of its yearly total, over the 4 days of their ESL One Cologne tournament, the biggest CSGO event to date. According to Gamoloco records, it's also during this event, precisely on August 23rd 2015 at 21:11 CEST, that Twitch reached its highest viewership peak so far at 2 104 706 viewers when the riotgames channel and the eslcsgo channel were broadcasting the North American LCS Finals on the one hand, and the ESL One Cologne final on the other, together at the same time.
At Rank 4, Beyondthesummit is a lot like now MTG-owned channels except they're smaller and appeared only a few years ago. Beyond the Summit does less production and more broadcasting than ESL and Dreamhack, which exclusively broadcast their own productions. But apart from those differences, in size and age, the organizations have the same kind of dna: passionate gamers creating quality esports entertainment all the while running a good business. I don't know that much about Beyond The Summit but just from looking at how fast and how high they rose, I sure would like to.
4 "At Home" Streamers: 3 lirik / 7 nightblue3 / 8 summit1g / 9 sodapoppin
While esports have turned into a global cultural phenomenon, the fact that individual "At Home" streamers can generate the same kind of viewership volume over a year as some of the top esports production companies has to be mind-boggling. These guys entertain their audiences in a new kind of way that could never have existed on TV: they entertain in the long run, for hours on end litterally as they often stream for more 150 hours in a month. Actually summit1g streamed way more than 300 hours last month: talk about work ethic!
But in terms of viewership volume, Lirik is ahead at Rank 3 disrupting the top esports channels. It's quite simple, everytime you see a weird game on top of Twitch, it's Lirik. It seems like wherever he takes his audience, they follow. How does he do it? Why do they love him? That is hard to say in business terms: he's like their favorite singer. Except he's a gamer.
These guys produce their streams with very little production means. Most of them will only use a professional quality mic, a good quality camera and their PC. That's it. It's really just the game they play and themselves that create the entertainment value. One could even argue that if these guys started to produce their daily live streams with too much effort and shiny stuff, maybe they would become less popular...
Truthfully, I do watch At Home streamers from time to time out of curiosity but I don't really get into them, I can't get hooked like some do. Maybe I'm a bit too old for that already but I understand and have respect for the passion they generate. I think it's tied to being a cool guy, a good friend if you will, but also a quality narrator telling their own story as it unfolds in an interactive fictional world. I also understand the revenue. I never tried to count really but these guys make a lot of money from viewer tips. You just have to watch for a couple minutes to get that.
When you consider the passion these young guys - because yes, usually they're guys - generate among their audience and the difficulty to explain their successes or failures, it's quite easy to look at them as a new breed of pop stars.
1 Web TV: rocketbeanstv
By "Web TV", I mean rocketbeans is a channel that airs 24/7 with a programming schedule including talk shows, interviews, games, re-runs and other kinds of gaming-related video contents. It's as close as you can get to a regular TV channel while broadcasting online. And while they're also cheaper than actual TV channels, web TV's are much harder to produce than At Home streams as they require way more production means. There are actually very few of them at the moment as most of gaming live streams are about esports and at home streamers. Maybe with time more organizations like that will blossom on Twitch but I wouldn't bet on it either. In any way that rarity adds to rocketbeans performance, which has been rising all year long in terms of viewership.
Also it's quite important to notice rocketbeanstv is the only channel that's not broadcasting in English in this list as they are based in Germany.
1 Event Producer: gamesdonequick
In France we have a saying when there's some kind of "ouf ot the box" success happenning to someone or something, we say they're a "UFO", like they're coming from another planet literally. Well gamesdonequick is a UFO: the event comes out of nowhere twice a year, tramples Gamoloco's scoreboards for a week, and then goes back to sleep until the next time.
It's about performing in solo games, finishing them as fast as possible, which is called "speedrunning". gamesdonequick's events are week-long festivals dedicated to speedrunning during which the best speedrunners out there play their speed of light performances as Link, Mario or Kratos while commentating at the same time... with talent and a lot of heart for those I could listen to. All the while the speedrunning is going, gamesdonequick gathers donations from viewers. In 2015, they raised $2.8M in donations for the Prevent Cancer Foundation and Doctors Without Borders throug their broadcasts.
Method & Data Set
To build this scoreboard, I exported the 12 monthly top channels scoreboards of 2015 out of Gamoloco's database and put everything in one spreadsheet in order to determine the top 10.
If you're unfamiliar with Gamoloco, maybe you'd like to know we get our data from various live streaming platforms API's. In the case of channels data, we get numbers from Twitch, Azubu and Hitbox, every minute. You will find more details about our data collection method in our FAQ.
Disclaimer on accuracy:
As the young service that we are, 2015 wasn't always perfect and there are times when we couldn't collect data all of the time, especially during the Autumn. So we had to compensate for that and extrapolate for the times we couldn't collect.
ie: let's say we collected data for 18 hours out of 24 for any given day, well in order to build this infographic I extrapolated the data we had collected to compensate for the 6 hours missing in our database. Using this process, we can compare games over the same amount of hours (168 = 7 x 24) even if we lightly damaged accuracy by extrapolating.
Please check our dedicated blog entry to find out more on the data collection issues we had to face in late 2015. Since late December we've gotten our accuracy back on track!
We are now done with our 2015 Twitch recap. I hope you enjoyed it! A lot more could be said of course about Twitch last year, starting with what they included in their own 2015 overview... or your own comments below of course.