Dec 15, 2022
TL;DR - With the growth of our esports, we are revamping our broadcast scheduling practices to better serve fans. This will lead to:
- Broadcasts that reduce overlaps
- Schedules that match viewer preferences
- New opportunities to explore formats and fresh content
- Updated schedules across leagues and games for the 2023 season.
In the coming days and weeks, you will see leagues across LoL Esports and VALORANT Champions Tour share their plans for 2023. Ahead of these announcements, we wanted to share the insights that guided our thinking.
Before we can talk about the future, join us on a brief journey to one year ago. The 2021 season was our first full year supporting multiple, full-fledged esports ecosystems at Riot Games. This led us to think about how this larger and more complex esports ecosystem would impact you. Has it become harder to be a fan of our sports? And more importantly, how can we make it easier?
A review of high-level data gave us confidence that there was room to improve the fan experience in three key areas:
- When watching live games, fans should not frequently be forced to choose between one match in favor of another one. Our schedule should allow you to watch more of the action without making difficult tradeoffs.
- The amount of content we serve up daily should more closely match your appetite. Watching should be fun and exciting, not overwhelming.
- Content should be delivered at times when it’s convenient for fans.
We started by identifying where leagues had significant overlap in existing fan bases. This included reviewing the viewing behaviors of fans across different leagues with the goal to get a better understanding of where sub-optimal schedules were causing viewership attrition. Armed with that data, we went on a long journey (and we do mean long…) across all of our internal esports teams to gather additional input on how our 2023 competitions should be scheduled.
At Riot, there are many groups that help bring our events to life (broadcast, league operations, regional heads, marketing, and more) and getting their input gives us a deeper understanding of the real-world implications of any potential changes. Additionally, we also surveyed fans across the world and reviewed historical performance to sharpen our understanding. Going forward, we’re going to continue to listen closely to fans to make sure the changes we are making continue to improve the viewing experience.
Since we’re making these changes to best serve you, we want to provide some transparency on what we learned. This isn’t an exhaustive list, but these facts have been critical in shaping our 2023 plans:
- Most fans tend to follow their favorite game regardless of region. Through surveys, we discovered that 9% of NA LoL Esports fans report that they follow VCT Americas. We also found that during live matches more than half of LCS fans watch the LEC, and were 4 times more likely to watch the LEC than the VCT EMEA. While this isn’t universal for fans in every region, to create a better global experience, we needed to prioritize minimizing overlaps of matches from the same game.
- The top two priorities for most fans are to watch their favorite team, and to see the biggest matchups of the week. When surveyed, fans expressed that they were just as interested in watching a big match in their favorite league compared to matches with their favorite team. With many fans following multiple leagues, and interest in watching the most anticipated matches, we needed to create a scheduling system that would allow us to shift games to to optimize viewing times across regions.
- Binge watching every weekend and every league isn’t sustainable. We’ve found that consistently long viewing sessions are hard on viewers: 45% of viewers surveyed reported that they felt exhausted after watching a full day of LoL Esports. We want to reserve binging your favorite sport for key moments of the year and better pace the remainder of our live competition.
- Weekdays are an underserved opportunity. Research has shown that the demand for LoL Esports and game content is split evenly between weekdays and weekends. Whether it’s getting ready for a night of playing until we lose (can’t end on a loss…) or watching a favorite stream while studying, viewing esports has become part of a weekday routine for many of us. Big events will still be anchored around weekends, but the viewing behaviors we have seen in the VCT, LCK, and LPL showed that there was an appetite for content on other days as well.
- Picking what to watch can be a chore. Research shows that the average person makes 35,000 decisions a day, and deciding what match to watch shouldn’t be one of them. By scheduling our games right, you only have to choose “to watch”… not “what to watch,” simplifying the process.
Broadcast Schedule Updates
Fans should see updates on regional broadcast schedules across our sports. Here is a first look at some of the latest schedules:
LCS - Thursday and Friday starting at 12:00 PM PT
LEC - Saturday, Sunday, and Monday starting at 6:00 PM CET
CBLoL - Saturday & Sunday starting at 1pm BRT
LPL - Monday-Friday starting at 5pm CST and Saturday & Sunday starting at 3pm CST
LCK - New Start Times
- Match 2 on weekdays will shift 30 minutes earlier from 8:00 PM (KST) to 7:30 PM (KST)
- On the weekends, Match 1 will be moved from 5:00 PM (KST) to 3:00PM (KST), and Match 2 will be moved from 8:00 PM (KST) to 5:30 PM (KST)
VCT Americas - Saturday, Sunday, and Monday starting at 12:00 PM PT
VCT EMEA - Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday starting at 6:00 PM CET
VCT Pacific - Saturday, Sunday, and Monday starting at 6:00 PM KST
We’re excited about the benefits of our new system. It will allow us to create flexibility to explore broadcast formats, increase cross regional storytelling, and make it easier for co-streamers. While we don’t expect every call to be perfect, we believe the changes we’re making will improve the viewing experience across all leagues. Where they fall short, we hope you will tell us and we’ll be listening. We want these changes to make it easier to be a fan, follow your favorite competition, and discover new content about the sports and teams you love!