Study shows esports close to surpassing Super Bowl in viewership numbers

Ninja also had over 24,000 years of collective watch time in 2018, according to the study.

Photo via Riot Games

Everyone has heard of the massive numbers that esports manages to pull in—the LEC has already brought in record-breaking viewership numbers this year. But how do these events compare to professional sporting event viewership numbers? A recent study by took a closer look at the impact Twitch streamers have on their online communities and compared viewership numbers between the biggest esports and sporting events across the globe.

At the top of the list, Super Bowl LII brought in 103.4 million viewers—the most out of any other sporting event listed in the study. While esports have not reached the viewership numbers of the Super Bowl quite yet, the 2017 League of Legends World Championship came close with 80 million viewers. The study didn’t include results from the 2018 World Championship, which came even closer to surpassing the Super Bowl with an estimation of 99 million viewers.

Besides the Super Bowl, the second most-viewed sporting event included in the study was the NFL’s 2018 NFC Conference Championship, which amassed 44.1 million viewers. Four esports events were ahead of this game in views, though, including the Intel Extreme Masters Katowice 2017, League of Legends Mid-Season Invitational 2018, PUBG Global Invitational 2018, and the League of Legends 2017 World Championship.

While comparing esports to sports is an age-old debate, it’s hard to ignore both bring comparable viewership numbers. In addition to comparing the viewership between esports and sports, the study also looked at the most popular streamers on Twitch—and it’s no surprise who’s at the top.

According to the study, Tyler “Ninja” Blevins gained 24,263 years of collective watch time in the past year, the most of any streamer on Twitch. The second most-viewed channel was Riot Games, which didn’t even come close to Ninja’s numbers. The game developer had 11,446 years of collective watch time in 2018 with 1,853 hours streamed.

Across the board, the study gave light to the fact that esports continues to grow at an exceptional rate. With these numbers, 2019 might be the year esports finally surpass the Super Bowl for viewership numbers.