CS:GO next to run the Facebook gauntlet

If you’re interested in the business of esports you’ll know that recently there have been a lot of conversations about platforms, and not the kind that appeared in Austin Powers. Where once there was Twitch as the home of esports broadcasting, today we have many options, with the purple giant being joined by Youtube and Facebook in most cases as the three main competitors.

With the growth of esports, the story also went far further than would have been the case previously, mainly driven by social media outrage that appeared. Outlets like Forbes reported on the weak figures, suggesting that Dota2 event ESL One Genting had dipped as low as 2k viewers at points on the first day, in contrast to an average viewer count verging on 100k for last year’s event. Of course day one numbers are not the same as average CCV, but that does give you an idea of the potential loss, with 98% of the views missing.

With the overall figures for Genting 2018 now available, the gap is not as bad as that, but according to esc.watch the ‘official English-language broadcasts from ESL on Facebook had only 69.000 viewers at the peak versus 189,000 at last year’s tournament. Along with unofficial broadcasts, the English-language peak was 90,000 people — still insignificant against ESL One Genting 2017'.

The difficulty of drawing too conclusive a line between the move to Facebook and the drop in viewership is demonstrated by the numbers provided by the Russian stream. Despite neither of the traditional favourites from that region (Virtus.pro and Na’Vi) doing well, the Russian-language broadcast hit 96,000 viewers at the peak, 15k more than last year, demonstrating that not only are the figures hard to predict, but also don’t make sense if you run them through a sensible set of variables.

CS:GO next to run the gauntlet

Now it is Counterstrike’s turn to run the Facebook gauntlet, and it seems as though the organisers are fighting back against the negativity in some ways. The opening day is stacked full of high level matches (in theory), with G2, FaZe and Astralis all on show, and comes on the back of a thrilling Major and pretty decent CS Summit too. Furthermore, we should get a clearer idea of the true viewer count, with the always-tough-to-quantify Chinese audience way less of a factor.

It is actually pretty important that this deal is a success, not just for Facebook and ESL, but also many of those fans who enjoy online CS and the bigger LANs. It might seem like companies are creating bigger and bigger events all the time, but the income received is not necessarily growing at the same rate as interest in the scene, and the alternative to selling to the highest bidder is the dreaded P-word. Pay-per-view.

With this in mind, it is worth tuning in to the Facebook broadcast if you get the chance, not least because there is going to be some fascinating CS played, but also for the future of the scene. Competition among broadcasters is fantastic news for fans normally, and the longer we can maintain the free broadcast of high level play, the more kids will be able to consume and fall in love with esports, securing the future of the scene for years to come.