Chinese League of Legends fans will be turning to streaming platform Bilibili for the next three World Championship events. The company is reportedly paying $113 million for three years of exclusive broadcasting rights in China.
This is the first time that one streaming service has gained exclusive broadcasting rights for an esports event in China through such a bidding process. According to Beijing News, Bilibili outbid several other media outlets that were interested. These include Douyu, Kuaishou, and Huya.
Still, the League community seem shocked at the amount. To many, it actually seemed quite low. On Reddit, one user pointed out that if 100 million Chinese viewers tuned in to Worlds for each of the next three years, Bilibili would have paid about 33 cents per viewer. Another added that there’s an average of 20 million viewers per minute during Worlds, 80% of whom are Chinese. This number is sure to grow in 2020 when Worlds is held in Shanghai Stadium.
“For comparison,” one Reddit user said, “Twitch paid $90 million for two years of exclusive rights to the Overwatch League. But its average minute audience is only around 100,000.”
Other Reddit comments had fun comparing the price to what Dignitas reportedly paid to have top laner Heo “Huni” Seung-hoon for two more years. At a guaranteed $2.3 million for a two year contract, Bilibili could sign more than 32 Hunis for the amount they paid for exclusive streaming rights to Worlds.
The Chinese League of Legends scene has continued to grow, which is why the bid likely makes a lot of sense for Bilibili sense. Chinese teams have won the past two Worlds events, including the most recent World Championship going to FunPlus Phoenix.
Bilibili has also grown over its close to 10 years in operation. In 2017, they reportedly had over 31.6 million users. Their mobile games are also wildly successful, generating 80% of their total profits last year. Bilibili Gaming has expanded the company’s esports presence, including their Overwatch League team, Hanghou Spark.