In May 2019, the League of Legends Mid-Season Invitational, set in Chinese Taipei and Vietnam, drew peak viewership north of 1.7 million. The massive audience watched in near real-time as G2 Esports claimed the title, knocking off Team Liquid 3-0 in the finals.
Production for the event was done remotely, thousands of miles away in Riot Games’ studio in Los Angeles. Via a mix of local internet providers in combination with Riot Direct, the company’s privately owned global internet network, video and audio HD feeds were sent from Asia to L.A., where the feeds were edited, finalized for broadcast and sent back to streaming and broadcast partners throughout the world.
The COVID-19 pandemic has relegated live sports from the top of the podium as the most watched and lucrative part of TV schedules. At the same time, the enforced social distancing, school closures and home working has prompted audiences across all age groups to spend more time on video on demand, social media and, in a big way, gaming. As a result, new types of competitive electronic sports are gaining participants and, more importantly for TV, viewership. From drone racing to battle robots, the rise of alternative sports is blossoming. By far the most popular is video gaming esports, with 450+ million viewers globally – and figures show its following growing rapidly as it has emerged as the main live alternative to physical sports during the coronavirus crisis.