How an Unauthorized Asian Games Twitch Stream Hit 500K Viewers

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Last month, China’s national team won their first ever League of Legends Competing at an Olympic-sanctioned event, and no one in China could see it — at least not in an official capacity.

Although he bought the broadcasting rights for the entire first esports program for the Asian Games 2018, China Central Television (CCTV) did not show esports matches for a single second. Meanwhile, anyone caught re-broadcasting the tournament on any of the country’s myriad live-streaming platforms would effectively face a lifetime ban. But by word of mouth and sheer coincidence, a few Pull out Streamers in Los Angeles became the only means for Chinas League of Legends community to see their national team triumph on the pan-Asian stage.

[perfectpullquote align=”right” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]Two Pull out streamers
in LA became the only means for Chinas
League of Legends community
to see their national team triumph.
[/perfectpullquote]

“We didn’t initially host it for the big purpose for all Chinese viewers to see,” said Pengxiao “Dave” Mao. Mao, alongside Jie “xTears” Shi, are two native Chinese players for the mobile game Arena of Valornow lives in LA as part of a professional esports organization immortal .

Many professional esports organizations require their players to stream for a specific period of time as per their contracts. However, Mao and Shi had just returned from a month-long trip to China to compete in the 2018 King Champion Cup, the first fully international competition for honor of kingsthe original Chinese version of Arena of Valor. They have to meet their quota and actually want to see it Arena of Valor Asian Games segment, the two decided to stream the games with their own commentary; a common occurrence for restreamers of small to medium sized esports events.

The two took the source of their broadcast from YouTube, the sole online rights holder of the Asian games for western territories. YouTube is also a platform that remains blocked in China, unlike Twitch. News of Mao and Shi’s programs soon spread on Chinese Internet forums – and viewership immediately exploded.

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Max CCV for “Dave” and “xTears” Twitch channels during Asian Games 2018.

At its peak was Mao’s “reporting” of the Arena of Valor Contest reached a maximum concurrent viewership (max CCV) of 387.7K. for League of Legends, viewership continued to surge, with Shi’s channel peaking at over 500,000 CCV. For comparison, the final of the dota 2 The international reached 626.8K max CCV on Twitch– and that in all language programs.

“Actually, it’s really bizarre,” Mao said. “The entire chat is flooded with Chinese. You can see pages of questions and comments without a single line of English. I can’t keep speaking in English if there is no chat in English. So I decided to speak Chinese.”

[perfectpullquote align=”left” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]Mao and Shi’s broadcasts went viral on Chinese Internet forums – and their viewership immediately exploded.[/perfectpullquote]

Although the games were not broadcast on Chinese television, talents from each of China’s top leagues were present honor of kings and League of Legends were at the Asian Games and provided live commentary. The Esports Observer spoke to staff involved in the live production but could not confirm exactly why CCTV decided not to include the event in their coverage. Messages left with the two parties co-organizing the event, the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) and the Asian Electronic Sports Federation (AESF), have gone unanswered.

After the broadcast, video-on-demand (VOD) recordings of Mao and Shi’s broadcasts were removed from Twitch for copyright infringement. When asked for comment, a Twitch spokesperson said the company’s stance on copyright infringement was detailed in its Community Guidelines, and that it will comply with DMCA takedowns when reported by third-party rightsholders. Immortals, the sports organization that Mao and Shi represent, declined to comment.

“We’re not really stealing viewers from anyone,” Mao said. “For our scenario, this is very unique. YouTube was the only way for people in the west to watch it. But for Chinese viewers, there’s literally no way to watch it.”

“When we started broadcasting and some people started spreading it in China, we went viral. But they didn’t have any other means anyway, so YouTube viewership wouldn’t go up either.”

This was the first time the Asian Games had added eSports to their program, but due to the Games’ status as a demonstration sport, all wins whether in Hearthstone or Pro Evolution Football, were not included in a competing country’s total medal count. Esports was on its way to becoming a true medal event in the 2022 edition Hangzhou, but even that has had some problems lately. OCA That said Director-General Husain Al-Musallam Esports still needs an international governing body. In addition, Alisports CEO who helped run the Esports demonstration event in collaboration with the OCA thinks of keep only sports titles in the lineup.

[perfectpullquote align=”right” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]Game streaming revenue in China is expected to reach US$4.9 billion in 2022.[/perfectpullquote]

By reversing esports, the Asian Games will continue to miss out on the viral viewership of this year’s competition and the growing business that comes with it. A report by Frost & Sullivan suggests that game streaming revenue is high in China will reach $4.9 billion in 2022. Meanwhile, Tencent Holdings both of which published the game Arena of Valor and owns the publisher of League of Legends, Riot games published a report stating China’s esports user base will grow to 350 million until the year 2020.

From personal experience, Mao believes that the audience he and Shi have found on Twitch represents a tiny fraction of the potential Chinese audience for the Asian Games. “Twitch is a US platform, so the majority of people [in China] have lag. Unless you live in a city with great internet, you need to look at the lowest resolution. But they will watch it anyway, just for the love of the game.”


If you are interested in learning more about China’s gaming and streaming industry, we will be hosting a panel dedicated to the emerging eSports markets on September 28th at TEO X HIVE New York. Secure your place today!

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