- Less and less fans are tuning in to the biggest North American League of Legends tournament
- Even the tournament’s finals managed to set a low record
- Riot and the LCS’s restructuring are likely the main cause for this downward trend
With the LCS Summer Split recording a huge drop of 1/3 fewer viewers, compared to last year, the event does not promise a bright future for LoL esports in North America.
LCS Viewership Plummets
Continuous growth in esports events is not guaranteed and sometimes metrics like viewership numbers and retention fall. It seems that the LCS is currently in such a downward phase as the recently concluded 2023 Summer Split saw a significant drop in viewers, raising questions about the stability of the top North American league.
If we take a look at data from Esports Charts, we will see that the event averaged 76 889 viewers, which is a 30% drop from the 2023 Spring Split and 33% from the 2022 Summer Split. This huge drop by a third is made worse when we consider that this year’s LCS Summer Split had 20 more airtime hours than the previous one. Despite that, the total hours watched also dropped by a whopping 20% to 11.9 million, which is the lowest figure in the league’s history.
Finals of tournaments often draw in the largest crowds, but the LCS’s downward trend in viewership persisted at the last match as well. Even though the relative underdogs NRG, fresh off returning to the LCS, beat the reigning champions Cloud9 against all odds, the last match of the tournament had a peak of 223 943 viewers, down 17% from the Spring Split’s final peak, making it the lowest final in the league’s history.
Why Is This the Case?
It could be argued that the LCS’s significant drop in viewership is simply a symptom of the larger rearranging that the competitive League scene in North America is undergoing. Many teams have come and left the LCS, with TSM being the only one that has stayed since the beginning. However, even they are planning to head out. All of this has likely led to a drain of fans who often tend to follow where their favorite teams go. If a team simply leaves the LCS, it simply takes a large chunk of the fans with it.
Some other popular faces have also been leaving the league, likely putting a dent or two in its viewership. Since Riot is restructuring, many of its broadcasters have either been assigned to other games or have simply left overall. There have recently been rumors that one of the LCS’s most popular faces, caster Dash, might not host the event anymore. He has already been absent from the league since January but came back to host the LCS finals. Unfortunately, it seems the damage had already been done and if these rumors turn out to be true, it will likely not be repaired.
Overall, the LCS and Riot’s restructuring causes challenges that the organizations will need to address if they wish to reverse this downward trend in viewership.