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Super Bowl of eSports proves more popular than cable

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The numbers are in, and Major League Gaming‘s Pro Circuit championship tournament in Providence, R.I. proved to be one of the bigger events streamed on the Internet. The three-day tournament, which took place a few weeks ago and is like the Super Bowl for gamers, boasted streaming records for the eSports league.

MLG reported a total of 3.6 million hours of video consumed over the course of the tournament, with peak viewership of 241,000 users watching at the same time. And those viewers were totally engrossed in the gameplay: Average viewing time was north of three hours per viewer, according to MLG. Videos were streamed to viewers in more than 175 different countries, with U.S., Germany, Canada, Sweden and the U.K. leading the way.

To put that into perspective: When CBS Sports (s cbs) live streamed the matchup between No. 1 and No. 2 ranked NCAA football teams LSU and Alabama earlier this season, it reported just 214,560 unique viewers during the game. All of which is why the league could boast, in the infographic below, that it drew more 18- to 24-year-old viewers during the three-day tournament than cable networks like MTV, (s VIA) FX, (s NWS) Comedy Central and TBS. (s TWX)

For eSports enthusiasts, events like MLG’s Pro Circuit tournaments add a new way for them to enjoy games, even if they’re not playing themselves. And they’re becoming more popular: The tournament in Providence capped off a successful season for MLG, in which it streamed a total 15 million hours of video over six different Pro Circuit events, which is a 225-percent increase over video viewed during the 2010 season.

With persistent broadband that lets viewers watch events like MLG’s Pro Circuit in high-definition video, we expect events like this to continue to grow, especially as viewers can tune in on more devices. Watch out for eSports to become an even bigger business in 2012.

Image courtesy (CC-BY-SA) of Flickr user ECL X-Series Liverpool

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