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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

One of the world's biggest esports leagues is working with Nielsen to develop the first-ever comprehensive measurement system for viewership of esports broadcasts.

Why it matters: Esports audiences are growing so big that they are beginning to outpace traditional sports viewers globally. Without a way to adequately measure those audiences and compare them to TV audiences, it's harder for brands and leagues to monetize those eyeballs.

Details: The League of Legends Championship Series (LCS), which is run by American video game developer Riot Games, is working with Nielsen to develop the first-ever official measurement system for esports broadcasts that truly mimics what's used to measure TV.

  • The new ratings system, called live+, encompasses both live broadcast viewership and post-event on-demand or replay video.
  • Unlike traditional sports, esports tournaments are often watched both live and after-the-fact, since audiences are global and span different timezones. Aspiring players also like to rewatch games to learn from other gamers' techniques.
  • The ratings leverage the new industry standard for viewership reporting known as average minute audience (AMA). The esports industry began late last year to adopt AMA, a unit akin to how television audiences are measured.
  • This metric will parallel Nielsen’s live+ TV ratings, which aggregate live and on-demand viewership within a designated time window to present a more complete picture of TV viewership engagement.

Be smart: TV-like ratings used to measure esports are considered more accurate than other forms of viewership metrics that many in the esports industry had previously been using, like peak concurrent viewers or peak channels.

  • "In some ways, this [new system] is not revolutionary at all because it's done the same way as TV," says Nicole Pike, managing director of Nielsen esports.
  • "But for esports, it's a big change because for the first time, it offers consistency between events, leagues, etc., and it provides an accurate summary of viewership," she added.

The big picture: The new metrics system will give leagues and advertisers a better way to compare esports viewership with that of traditional television and sports broadcasts.

  • To date, most esports-related revenue has been driven by corporate sponsorships — with ticket sales, merchandise and media rights bringing in additional revenue. Viewership-based advertising has been difficult to implement without ratings.
  • "Advertisers need to be able to compare all options against each other," says Pike.

What's next: Other major esports leagues are in touch with Nielsen about adopting the standard.

  • Nielsen has partnered with Activision Blizzard and ESL over the past year to implement the AMA standard industry-wide. It expects other esports leagues to adopt live+ as well.


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Why it matters: In the post-George-Floyd era, with policing under utmost scrutiny, the choosing of a police chief has become something akin to an election, with the need to build consensus around a candidate. And the candidate pool has gotten smaller.

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Move over, GameStop. The newest speculative game in town is NFTs — digital files that can be owned and traded on a plethora of new online platforms.

Why it matters: Most NFTs include some kind of still or moving image, which makes them similar to many physical art objects. Some of them, including a gif of Nyan Cat flying through the sky with a pop-tart body and rainbow trail, can be worth more than your house.

New coronavirus cases fall by 20%

Expand chart
Data: The COVID Tracking Project, state health departments; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

New coronavirus infections continued their sharp decline over the past week, and are now back down to pre-Thanksgiving levels.

The big picture: Given the U.S.’ experience over the past year, it can be hard to trust anything that looks like good news, without fearing that another shoe is about to drop. But the U.S. really is doing something right lately. Cases are way down, vaccinations are way up, and that’s going to save a lot of lives.