How Free Live Broadcasting Changed Esports

It doesn’t matter if esports is one of your interests or not, it’s hard to deny just how big the top games have become as they start to match or even surpass viewership numbers in even the biggest traditional sporting events – and as a wider variety of genres become available, there’s a changing demographic moving to find their own interest in esports too with the market encompassing a huge variety of different fans. Despite all of the game types, the busy gaming schedules, and the big talent that make up the professional scenes of each title, the big change that allowed esports to really grow to the size it has become has been within free broadcasting – but can others capitalise from this success too?

The early years of esports way back in the mid and early 2000’s tried to replicate what had made traditional sporting successful with attempts to score television broadcasting deals, but the games were still very niche and only really had a fandom with a fixed audience, with the ventures ultimately doomed to failure, and whilst there were options for watching these games at the time for the most part if you didn’t attend the big LAN events it was difficult to find any possibility to view the games live.

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The back end of the 2000’s saw the introduction of big streaming platforms like JustinTV which would aim at changing this – early adopters did find some benefit, but the early years of streaming were certainly difficult, and the history of livestreaming wasn’t as fleshed out as the platforms are now, but change would quickly could as other big platforms like Twitch would release a few years later and change everything. The Riot Games title of League of Legends would host its first big event over Twitch back in 2013, with their first big end of year event pulling in 32 million viewers, with a concurrent number of around 8.5 million – and for perspective the same end of year World Championship event for League of Legends in 2020 had an estimated 49.95 million concurrent viewers, showing just how impactful streaming services have been on the success for esports as a whole by providing a free and easy to access platform for all.

It has also helped other markets grow too, just by nature of being so big – things like esports betting here at have grown extremely quickly due the popularity, and by being able to offer options to share the streams directly without worry of cost,  it brings viewership numbers to more people with further opportunities too. As traditional sporting begins to eye the online space, it’ll be unlikely that any more to a free platform, but the benefits are starting to look very clear, and much more enticing for those who may have been on the fence about the change.