Will the LCS continue to see a decline in its viewership numbers as the Spring Split progresses?
The LCS returned to action this past weekend, but unfortunately, the viewership numbers continued to decline for North America’s premier League of Legends league. This has been confirmed by Dmytro Murko of Esports Charts, citing many reasons why the LCS continues to see a decline in viewership despite Riot's efforts to bump that number.
Murko explains that the LCS has seen a 28% decrease in viewership numbers compared to the 2023 LCS Spring Split. Although the peak viewership is up 7% at 191,000, Murko details that this is somewhat accidental rather than a sign that the needle is moving in the right direction for the LCS. Ahead of the 2024 LCS Split, Riot announced it would expand its co-streaming rights beyond its English-speaking streamers and expand into content creators from other regions.
Most notably, Brazils Baiano, a community caster, streamed week one matches immediately following the conclusion of the CBLoL broadcast. 20-30k of Baiano’s viewers remained on their stream after the CBLoL games. Baiano's switch to the LCS caused a spike in viewership at the start of the Cloud9 vs 100 Thieves match – 63.3k peak viewers, to be exact. However, by the end of the match, this number dropped drastically to 28k. This is what Murko meant by the high peak viewership numbers being accidental as opposed to more people tuning into watching the LCS.
The Changes Made To The LCS Broadcast
Thanks to the new LCS commissioner, Mark “MarkZ” Zimmerman, and his backroom staff, the LCS is making great strides to improve the fan experience, notably in how their broadcast is constructed. Zimmerman mentioned during his LCS update on YouTube that there is a significant drop in viewership during “downtime,” – which is time spent between when the nexus explodes in one game and when champion selection begins in the next.
One of the first changes to tackle the downtime problem is to cut post-game analyst desk segments and replace them with pre-recorded content or a post-game interview, which would occur during the three-minute break. And while tech pauses reigned supreme on week one, there were positive signs that the changes were working. On day one, from the nexus exploding between Team Liquid and 100 Thieves to the start of champion selection between Cloud9 and NRG, ESTNN clocked the time at precisely ten minutes.
In conjunction with this change, the LCS has changed how Champion Select works from a broadcast perspective. The LCS is trialing having the draft completed backstage during the previous game and showcasing the champion select prerecorded to limit the time it would previously take doing champion select live. This also accommodates European fans who want to watch the LCS immediately after the LEC concludes or if they are not interested in the final two teams competing at the end of the LEC schedule. The LCS starting at midday local time allows for its European audience to watch at a reasonable time of 8 pm GMT.
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