The International Drives Dota 2 Viewership in 2018

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  There aren’t many stages in esports that hold more grand appeal than The International for Dota 2?. The second iteration of the game that is largely credited for the birth of the multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) genre remains one of the flagship titles in gaming more than a decade after Defense of the Ancients’ (DotA) release.

  While the game’s age has resulted in it being broadcast less by Twitch? streamers, its established presence as one of the premier esports in the world help it maintain a status as one of the most-watched titles on Twitch.

  This year, The International viewership on YouTube and Twitch grew to 49.3M hours watched, up 12.3% from 43.9M last year, according to research by Newzoo. That was enough to make it the third biggest esports tournament of the year behind only League of Legends’? World Championship and the Counter-Strike: Global Offensive? ELEAGUE Major: Boston.

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  Though Dota 2 doesn’t have the same overall popularity of Riot Game’s? MOBA LoL, the game as an esport still manages to hold its own, and tournament organizers consistently pull sponsorships for the title that’s on pace to be the third-most watched game on Twitch this year behind only LoL and Fortnite?.

  This year has been one of growth for Dota 2 viewership on Twitch. The title has drawn 414.98M hours watched through Dec. 21, up from 402M for all of 2017. The increase in hours watched comes from a big boost by the game’s top channel Beyond the Summit, an event organizer that airs a plethora of competitions. While last year the channel led all of Dota 2 with 20.78 hours watched, this year the channel pulled 25.68M over 5.75K hours of airtime. That amount of airtime is a huge jump from 1.78K hours of airtime last year.

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  Despite the increase for the game overall and the growth of The International as a whole, the main channel for Dota 2’s yearly finale in August didn’t change much. Coverage of The International on the official DOTA2TI channel this year drew 19.1M hours watched, just slightly higher than 2017’s 18.84M. In fact, Event coverage last year averaged a higher average concurrent viewership (CCV).

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  Much like Valve’s other massively popular title Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, esports drove Dota 2. Due to the team-based nature of the games and spectatability, the games manage to keep viewers year after year, even though they don’t have the same sort of streamer-friendly format that battle royale titles do.

  The top five most-watched Dota 2 channels were all esports organizers. The International’s main English channel and its Russian channel each were in the top five despite having less than 500 total hours of airtime (each channel only broadcasted coverage of The International in August).

  Outside of Beyond the Summit, which ranked first, events broadcasted by PGL?, including the Kuala Lumpur Major and the Bucharest Major, represented an impressive 20.57M hours watched, up significantly from last calendar year.

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  Additionally, changes in the competitive season following The International last year increased the volume of Dota 2 competition, which could also be a reason for the game’s year-over-year growth. The 2017-2018 season included a boost in Majors as well as the introduction of Minor Championships, increasing the amount of professional competition available for consumption.

  It’s difficult to truly grasp the impact of the revamped professional circuit by comparing figures based on the calendar year because of the way Dota 2 seasons stretch from the fall of one year to the summer of the next. However, 2018 will ultimately see an excess of 10M+ more hours watched of Dota 2 on Twitch over 2017. Considering the title’s relative lack of personality broadcasts, it’s not a reach to believe that esports have been a reason for the growth of an already mature game.

  With that increase in competition comes an increase in sponsorship opportunity as well. Among the numerous esports-related deals this year were Monster Energy’s sponsorship of the Kuala Lumpur Major and Mercedes-Benz’ agreement to support ESL One Dota 2 events through 2020.

  Personality streaming in Dota 2 isn’t particularly strong in the United States, but there are a pair of Russian streams that have managed to bring more than 13M hours watched to the title each. The only English speaking streamer that managed to pull enough hours watched on the title to be a top 10 channel in Dota 2 was Henrik “AdmiralBulldog” Ahnberg with 13.45M. This is an improvement upon last year when only two streamers managed to crack Dota 2’s top 10.

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  By The Numbers

  Total Hours Watched in 2018: 414.98M (through Dec. 21)

  Total Hours Watched in 2017: 402.02M

  Most-Watched Day: August 23 8.15M

  Peak CCV: 396.5K August 25

  Most-Watched Channel: Beyond the Summit, with 25.68M hours watched.

  Most-Watched Personality: Russian streamer “Stray228,” with 14.6M hours watched.