E-sports are certainly growing, but they aren’t quite mainstream.
Last Sunday, ESPN2 aired Heroes of the Dorm, a Heroes of the Storm tournament that featured college teams competing against each other in Blizzard’s multiplayer online battle arena game. It received a 0.1 Nielsen rating. That means 0.1 percent of people watching TV at that time were tuning in. That’s pretty low. According to TV ratings sight Zap2it: Sunday cable ratings, reruns of Law & Order, River Monsters, and SpongeBob Squarepants all beat it. Of course, those are established shows, and e-sports on cable is a new experiment. Market research firm Newzoo estimates that 47.7M people watch or participate in e-sports in North America and Western Europe, but they’re used to watching on their computers.
ESPN, for its part, says its pleased.
“Sunday’s Heroes of the Dorm grand final was the first collegiate e-sports event televised on ESPN2 and attracted a passionate audience on a highly competitive night,” ESPN told GamesBeat.”The event met our strategic objectives to experiment with new formats and programming and engage new fans. While we have no additional e-sports plans to announce at this time, we will continue to look to deliver championship events that deliver on those objectives.”
Not everyone was happy to see people playing competitive video games on ESPN2, and they may use this rating as an excuse for why the network should stay away from e-sports.