Take Me Out To The Ball Game (But At Home): Will Streaming Kill Live Attendance?

Everybody loves a great game; whether you prefer traditional sports, or E-sports, there’s an undeniable appeal that draws hundreds of people to arenas and stadiums in support of their favorite teams. Lately, however, there’s been an upsurge in the amount of viewers who prefer to watch in the comfort of their homes, via live streaming.

A lot of YouTube channels now offer live streaming of events. Sometimes these are official channels, but other times, it’s someone streaming the pay-per-view they availed of. Given the busy lifestyle a lot of people have, this means that they can enjoy the game wherever they currently are without having to dedicate an entire morning or afternoon to the game.

Naturally, some will argue that part of the fun is watching with friends live at the stadium or at a viewing party. Unfortunately, not everybody can dedicate time to that or have access to cable where they currently are. Livestreaming presents an alternative for them. But is it enough to kill the popularity of live audience attendance? Based on the numbers, it depends what you’re watching.

Based on reports, off-season sports games and E-sports are more likely to have strong live stream viewership. Major events, however, like Superbowl games and NBA Playoff games are still going to draw live audiences. Based on the surveys, however, the reason why may not be what you think: bragging rights.

It turns out one of the biggest draws to attending live is the chance to be able to say, “I was there when history was made!” or “I was watching the same game as [Insert Celebrity Here]!” rather than the feeling of camaraderie that most people assume is the reason. E-Sports, which don’t really have as big a celebrity following (have you ever seen Kanye or Drake at a League of Legends tournament? I think not), don’t have that kind of pull on a national level.

One can argue that while it may not have a celebrity live following, League of Legends still has one of the largest audiences worldwide. Why doesn’t it draw live attendance like traditional sports? Mostly it comes down to logistics. For example, the last League world championship was held in China. Given the cost of travel versus watching for free online, it’s clear why most people would decide to livestream instead.

What’s your take on the livestream versus live discussion? Let us know!

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