Riot Games has claimed that its largest eSports event yet, the League of Legends Season 3 World Championship broadcast over Twitch livestream on October 4th, was watched by 32 million people, 8.5 million of whom were watching at the same time. The numbers shatter previous records for eSports viewership, and show that video game streams can rival TV in terms of scale and reach.
8.5 million people watched the World Championship at the same time
The figures show a tremendous leap in League of Legends viewers in the past year: 2012's Season 2 LoL World Championship — the previous record holder for most watched eSports event — was seen by a total of 8.2 million people, with 1.1 million streaming the event at the same time. They eclipse mass market stream figures, too. The British royal wedding in 2011 hit 300,000 concurrent viewers on Livestream.com, and the YouTube stream of the 2012 Olympics reached a peak of 500,000 people at once.
Riot's 8.5 million concurrent viewers is on a par with the "more than 8 million" people that watched Felix Baumgartner's jump from the edge of space. Exact figures for streaming events are difficult to ascertain, but All Things D reports that Baumgartner's jump was "web video's biggest event ever."
League of Legends is by far the biggest entity in the pro-gaming sector, regularly outstripping the stream viewer numbers of its major competitors, including Valve's Dota 2 and Blizzard's StarCraft II. In context, Valve's flagship Dota 2 tournament — The International 3 — took place two months before the League of Legends Season 3 World Championship finals and reached one million concurrent viewers.
League of Legends had more stream viewers than the Super Bowl
Riot can make a technical claim that their eSports event is bigger than the Super Bowl: CBS' Super Bowl XLVII livestream attracted three million unique viewers earlier this year. But League of Legends still has some way go before it can rival the very largest television events. According to Nielsen's figures, the TV broadcast of the most recent Super Bowl reached 108.7 million viewers in the US alone.