Two weeks into the Magic: The Gathering M20 split via MPL Weekly, the viewership numbers are showing signs of improvement over the previous War of the Spark split.
MPL Weekly kicked off earlier this year, featuring four divisions of MPL players competing for a day-one bye at an upcoming MTG Arena Mythic Championship. As the WotS split progressed, viewership dropped dramatically.
The format was prerecorded and hard to watch since the WotS split only covered some of the matches in full. After receiving massive amounts of complaints from the MTG community, a new format was introduced for the M20 split.
Featuring only one Division per week, WotC introduced round-robin matches for all of the players on Mondays and Tuesdays with a double-elimination bracket for the top-four players (aired via Twitch on Saturdays at 2pm CT). Following the top-four matches, WotC releases each match individually on YouTube while also leaving a link to the Twitch VOD on the Magic Esports website.
By eliminating the streaming of round-robin matches, fans now have an opportunity to watch the games that really matter. For week one of the M20 split, the Pearl Division brought in around 40,000 views between Twitch (livestream and VOD) and YouTube.
The numbers are still shy of being impressive, but the increase in viewership proves that WotC is moving in the proper direction when it comes to streaming the MPL.
With the announcement of changes to the upcoming MTG season, WotC is hoping more fans will jump aboard the MPL train. And if the numbers continue to increase, perhaps WotC will consider putting up videos of the round-robin matches on YouTube as well.
Criticism of the MPL, however, was harsh this year. Many people in the MTG community were turned off by actions and decisions made by WotC. A new format is a step in the right direction, but it won’t repair the damage done overnight. As long as WotC continues to listen to the MTG community, old wounds will likely heal over time and viewership can continue to grow.