Riot Games Teams With Nielsen to Track Viewership for Esports Like ‘League of Legends’

The esports rating platform is similar to Nielsen’s existing TV ratings

Esports players compete in a tournament
Photo credit: Getty Images

“League of Legends” developer Riot Games is working with Nielsen to use a new ratings system that tracks the viewer statistics of live esports broadcasts.

The new system, called Live+, is designed to be very similar to Nielsen’s existing television ratings platform but adjusted to meet certain challenges in the esports industry.

Unlike television events, esports attract fans from multiple continents, and broadcasts often aren’t syndicated to be viewed at the same time. The Live+ system is designed to analyze all relevant live esports broadcasts, replay videos or related on-demand match content to calculate the average minute audience, or AMA. AMA was adopted as the universal standard for esports viewership statistics last year.

“Live+ metrics will help us understand viewership better on its own and provide a direct way to compare with both live and time-shifted televised content, (a) first in esports,” Riot said in a blog post.

Esports advertising revenue has until now been driven by brand sponsorships, merchandise and ticket sales, partly because viewer-based ads are difficult to sell without comprehensive audience ratings. Prior to the Nielsen system, the main way to measure an esport’s online fan base was tallying peak channels or concurrent viewers. With a standardized way of noting who is watching and when, fans may see more viewer-specific advertisements during esports broadcasts in the coming months.

Riot said Nielsen’s data helps it evaluate the worth of broadcast sponsorships based on how many fans view the ads. “The research will also support brands in achieving the greatest return on investment through Riot Games,” the company noted.

Nielsen opened the esports division of its business in 2017. Riot began working with Nielsen in June 2019, when it started using Nielsen’s ratings service to evaluate brand exposure during esports competitions worldwide.

Esports tournament organizer ESL Gaming Network began working with Nielsen in September 2019, and Activision Blizzard also uses the system, according to Nielsen.

ESL Chief Commercial Officer Thomas Schmidt said in a statement at the time of the announcement, “it is very important for the esports industry to use standardized reliable data measured by an independent company like Nielsen in conversations with brand partners and broadcasters.”

Schmidt added that “establishing key performance indicators like average minute audience will push the industry forward and make it more accessible for media partners worldwide.”