NFL football remains the most popular spectator sport in the United States, but a new challenger for that throne has emerged. More people are playing and watching eSports — people playing competitive computer videogames like League of Legends and DOTA2 — than are watching the NBA Finals, World Series or BCS national championship game. The League of Legends Season 3 World Championship, which was staged in a sold-out Staples Center in Los Angeles last October, had 32 million viewers. That’s more than double the World Series and NCAA Final Four.
The 2014 Super Bowl was watched by an estimated 111.5 million people, but eSports viewership has doubled over the last year. In January, League of Legends creator Riot Games announced that the game has 67 million monthly users (worldwide). For comparison, an estimated 24 million play basketball in the United States, and less than 9 million people play football.
Twitch.tv, the leading video game platform used by professional gamers and companies like Riot to stream competitions, has become the fourth-leading website in peak internet traffic in the United States, ahead of Facebook. According to Variety, YouTube is looking to purchase Twitch for $1 billion.