The FFA dipped its toe into the rapidly growing world of competitive video gaming, E-Sports, with the launch of its E-League on Thursday night. It attracted an audience reach 16 per cent higher than the average A-League match, raising questions over the direction of sports broadcasting.
While the figures and interest in esports don’t particularly surprise me there are a couple of things they sort of fail to mention…
For a start, to watch A-League games in Australia you need a Pay-TV subscription with access to Fox Sports. There’s also one game a week shown on free-to-air TV that SBS hosts but with Pay-TV numbers in the toilet they’re never going to get astronomical numbers.
The “E-League” was streamed on Twitch, where it pulled in (at one point) 138,000 simultaneous viewers. it was also broadcast on Fox Sports but they don’t have those figures yet and are basing the 16% increase on the streaming alone.
Does this mean the A-League is dead? No, of course not. Is it a surprise? Not really.
Less than 20% of Australian households have Foxtel, a smaller subset of those have a sports package to watch the A-League. More than 80% have the Internet, and Twitch streams globally, for free, where people watch random crap all the time.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m excited to see esports doing so well and this was an interesting event to watch. I just think the article is a bit of fluff to get more eyeballs.