League viewership – a global comparison between the start of 2022 and 2023

League viewership has always been a vital element to determine its success. Let’s see how the numbers compare between 2022 and 2023.

Image Credits | Riot Games

League viewership – Introduction to 2023

The League of Legends competitive season has officially started across the world, as all major regions have kicked off their respective splits. Given the successful Worlds Championship, as well as rising numbers worldwide in 2022, the 2023 season will be the year of revelation to determine its long-term success. Let’s take a look at the numbers, categorized by each region, and then make a general overview later. Unfortunately, there aren’t viewership stats for the LPL for this year so far, so we won’t consider the Chinese region in this analysis.

LEC Viewersihp – The most stable league?

Let’s start off with the LEC, given their new format of three splits compared to the usual two used elsewhere. LEC also got a major schedule change, with playdays now being on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday. While it’s only the start of the split, there are two major takeaways: peak viewership has dropped significantly, but average viewership increased.

According to escharts.com, the first week of the LEC 2022 Spring Split had a peak viewership of 527.567, compared to the current peak of 464.189 viewers in 2023, achieved in the series between KOI and FNC. To put into perspective, the most-watched series through the Spring Split was the series between G2 and Rogue at 723.061 viewers.

Image Credits | Michal Konkol/Riot Games

Despite the lower peak viewership, the average viewership has actually increased: 270.749 (2022) vs 294.526 (2023). This is extremely positive which means that there’s increasing interest in the maximum European League. Part of these increases are thanks to the KOI and Heretics co-streams and their Spanish viewers, with a peak of more than 100k viewers, according to streamscharts.

Update (Feb. 27): the LEC finals registered the new peak viewership in 2023 so far, reaching 572.257 people. The total amount of hours watched is 26.433.880. While the average viewership has gone down slightly (280,218), it’s still higher than in 2022. 

These are very positive signs for the European League. Despite the schedule and format change, which would’ve impacted numbers in the short run, it seems like there is a good base to build even higher numbers.

LCS Viewership – is the league really dead?

The LCS received the shortest end of the stick after Riot Games announced the global schedule changes, with matchday being played during the week, on Thursday and Friday. With the goal of catering to non-NA viewers, the company planned to have the first games of the day starting at 12:00 PM PT, before changing it to 2:00 PM following major complaints from the NA community.

Everyone thought the change of broadcast days would’ve hurt the league overall, and viewership numbers seem to back this: the first week’s 178-.784 peak viewership is currently 200k down compared to 2022 (387.072). That said, the latter numbers were achieved during the grand final between 100T vs EG, so it’s not the best comparison to make. Instead, the peak viewership during the regular split was the series between C9 and EG at 243.217 viewers. While there isn’t a 200k difference, it’s still around 65k viewers less compared to 2022.

Image Credits | Riot Games

Having said that, the average viewership, just like in the LEC, is actually higher: around 4000 more viewers in 2023 (127.406) than in 2022 (123.411). To have a better idea of whether this increase will is set to stay, we will likely have to wait a little more to see the exact trend. Overall, though, the LCS doesn’t seem to do as badly as some expected.

Update (Feb. 27): peak viewership hasn’t changed since the start of the split. Given the new schedule, though, average viewership has dropped down quite heavily, sitting at 104.294: almost 20k less compared to 2022.

Update (Mar. 14): average viewership is still above 100k (101.488), dropping a few thousands from last time. 

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LCK Viewership – Will it break records again?

The LCK continues to be the most successful league in the world, with the highest peak and average numbers globally. While our stats don’t take into account the Chinese fan base, there are quite a lot of people from China that consistently watch the Korean league.

Image Credits | Riot Games

In terms of western viewership, the LCK numbers so far are far off from the stats from last year. That said, peak viewership is still higher than any other league so far, with 528.101, achieved on Day 1 in the series between T1 and Gen.G. While it’s not the stratospheric number of 1.374.155 of the grand final from last year’s Spring Split, we might witness increasing numbers if T1 and other top teams will face off in the upcoming weeks or playoffs.

To give you a better idea, the best non-playoff match viewership was 827.466 and it was the T1 vs DK battle.

Update (Feb. 27): the current 2023 peak viewership was achieved by the series between T1 and DK, topping at 720.712. That being said, the LCK has several matches with insane numbers, as the T1 vs Gen.G series also went past the 700k threshold.
T1 is really the symbol of LoL, as all matches where they were involved have boasted the five highest viewership numbers.

Update (Mar. 14): the average viewership is 200.387, the highest among all the regions (except China). Even though the current 2023 viewership record hasn’t been broken, we will likely see better numbers when playoffs are around.

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Main Takeaways

The global esports landscape saw a great surge in numbers and growth in the last few years. While the esports phenomenon is definitely spreading more and more, the 2022 viewership numbers were partially inflated by the global pandemic. Given that the world is going back to a more normal situation, it was expected to see a reduction in peak viewership, especially due to the broadcast changes. Even the LCS, despite the broadcast change to weekdays, has kept decent numbers on average.

That said, it’s quite surprising and positive to see a constant and often positive increase in average viewership, meaning that the interest in the competition is still high. While it’s only the start of the season, the overall situation seems to be positive: we’ll have to see whether it will transition to the rest of the year.