Esports and streamers see big views during coronavirus outbreak

Olivia Richman • March 19, 22:19

Parties and bars are closed. Sporting events are canceled. The coronavirus has left a lot of people feeling quite bored in their self-isolation, and streamers have started to fill that void. 

“It’s certainly an opportunity for the space to demonstrate that esports can scratch the itch on competition,” FaZe Clan CEO Lee Trink said to the Washington Post earlier this week. “The trains are continuing to run over at FaZe Clan.”

Gen.G told the Post that they have seen a 18.2% increase in Chinese viewership over the last two months. During Wuhan’s lockdown, the country has been watching PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds and League of Legends tournaments on Douyu and Huya in greater numbers. Counter-Strike: Global Offensive also saw a boost in views. The ESL Pro League had 146,000 viewers on March 16, a 27% increase from last year’s 115,000 peak. 

Most analysts agree on these trends. They believe esports viewership could see an increase up to 20% as the lockdowns and isolation measures continue. Twitch has seen an astonishing increase in first-time Twitch app downloads in Europe, Greece, Italy and Spain, including a 50% increase in Europe week-over-week, according to Sensor Tower. 

People are watching for longer, too. According to SteamElements, there has been a 66% viewership spike in minutes watched from the first week of February to the past week when Italy began its quarantine period. 

This information isn’t lost on Fortnite star Turner “Tfue” Tenney. He told the Washington Post that he will be streaming earlier now that kids are not in school. He is encouraging other streamers to do the same, while also hoping some children will start streaming themselves, too.

Tfue added that children should also be reading in their spare time, not just watching his and other streams.

Tfue coronavirus stream

People play more video games during coronavirus quarantine

With quality Netflix shows most likely already binge-watched by now, many people turned to Twitch for entertainment. But people stuck at home without bars, movie theaters, or concerts are also downloading games and joining in on the action themselves. 

On March 15, Steam posted its highest number of users logged in at over 20 million people. CSGO broke records too, with 1,024,845 players logged in at once earlier this week. Back in June of 2019, CSGO had an average of 500,000 players. 

Dota 2 was on a steady downward trend in players throughout 2019. But the numbers shot up in February, from a little over 614,000 at the start of the year to over 663,000 in February. Dota 2 has been a favorite to play and watch in China, so it’s more than likely the self-isolation has led to people picking up the old staple once again. 

These numbers could continue to increase as more restrictions are placed on communities throughout the world in an effort to stop the spread of the coronavirus. 


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