ESL’s Facebook Live Streaming deal kicks off
Recently, Facebook landed a deal with ESL to grab themselves exclusive streaming rights to ESL’s future esports events. The deal meant that all ESL English streams in the near future had to be streamed on the ESL Facebook page and ESL had to drop streaming on other platforms.
The original news that covered the Facebook and ESL streaming deal unfortunately received a lot of criticism from the esports community, and that criticism has translated into reduced viewership for ESL’s Facebook streams.
ESL Counter-Strike on Facebook Stream
When there’s a professional CS:GO match being broadcasted on Twitch that features some of the best teams in the world, you can expect to see a few hundred thousand viewers. However, the recent ESL events struggled to break 5,000 viewers. As an example, FaZe and Navi faced up against each other during the ESL Pro League round-robin group stage on February 14, and the peak viewer count hit 4,700 viewers. If you visit the ESL Facebook page and tune in throughout the day, you’ll see anywhere between 3,000 to 6,000 viewers for both CS:GO and Dota 2 games.
There will be times where these numbers may peak, especially during the quarter, semi, and grand finals, but there’s no way the viewership will match the numbers we’ve seen on Twitch. It’ll be interesting to see just how many viewers will tune into Facebook throughout the ESL One Katowice event – will it succeed, or is it going to flop?
One of the biggest things with moving over to Facebook is that many individuals that are interested in CS:GO will often stumble upon live matches whilst browsing Twitch. Facebook is notorious at this point for being the company that tries to run with ideas borrowed from other successful internet companies, and for the most part, they rarely succeed. What this recent partnership between Facebook and ESL shows is that you can’t pay your way into the esports industry. Viewership, revenue, and interest will always lie where the interest of the esports community lies. If Facebook truly wants to create a live streaming platform for esports, they need to start at the grassroots level – they need to foster relationships with teams, organizations, and players. This is the approach that companies like ESL and StarLadder started with.
As more money is poured into the esports industry, there are always going to be more examples of this. There will be more moments where big companies throw money around and see little results. From a past esports player and current esports viewer, all I can say to these companies is that if you want to get somewhere with esports, you have to build relationships through passion and a shared interest in the industry. You can’t build relationships solely off of money and expect it to work out.