E-sports on the rise: MLG and Dreamhack scoop record viewing figures in 2011


E-sports' growing popularity among spectators shows no sign of slowing down. The MLG have posted some remarkable figures from the 2011 season. Around 3.5 million unique viewers in total have tuned into MLG Pro Circuit weekends this season. The Pro Circuit National Championships in Providence, Rhode Island drew more than quarter of a million concurrent viewers at peak times, from 175 different countries. MLG CEO Sundance DiGiovanni says that in the 18-24 age range, "MLG now pulls in larger audiences than several traditional television cable networks."

MLG also say that visitors to their site during tournament weekends is up 225% on numbers seen in 2010. To celebrate the spike, they've put together a fancy infographic of the enormous numbers the 2011 season attracted. You'll find that embedded below.

The MLG don't say which games in particular have drawn the new audience, but the numbers are likely down to the spreading influence of the pro StarCraft 2 scene in the US and Europe. In October, Blizzcon hosted the first GSL finals to take place beyond Korea's borders. The best StarCraft: Brood Wars players in the world were there, too, invited by Blizzard so that they could witness the growing passion for professional e-sports in the West.

The winter Dreamhack event that took place at the end of November also did extremely well, attracting a record 1.7 million unique web TV viewers. Even more watched the event on Swedish TV. Dreamhack hosted tournaments for StarCraft II, Quake Live, Counter-Strike 1.6, Super Street Fighter IV Arcade Edition, Dota 2, Heroes Of Newerth and Bloodline Champions, and received a record number of visitors. They expect to break records again when the four day summer event kicks off on June 16.

Tom Senior

Part of the UK team, Tom was with PC Gamer at the very beginning of the website's launch—first as a news writer, and then as online editor until his departure in 2020. His specialties are strategy games, action RPGs, hack ‘n slash games, digital card games… basically anything that he can fit on a hard drive. His final boss form is Deckard Cain.