Secrets Behind the Most Consistently Watched Live Stream in the World
How E3 Increased Audience 404x and Dwarfed Donald Trump
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Learn from the E3 live stream, show the entire thing.
The Electronic Entertainment Expo, commonly referred to as E3, has been the premier event for gaming since it’s inaugural year of 1995. Since that year, they’ve drawn crowds in the thousands and have been the main purveyors of all information surrounding gaming. In the 2+ decades long history of the event, audiences have only grown. 2017 saw the highest physical attendance numbers, ~70,000, and by far the highest digital viewer numbers, with 1.1m peak concurrent viewers. Multiple factors are responsible for the overall increase in the consumption of E3 content. But, one of the most important is certainly the adoption of live streaming. In this blog, we’ll explore the E3 live stream stats for the last several years and analyze the effect of live streaming on the show’s overall experience.
In 2005, E3 announced a partnership with cable television network G4 to broadcast a portion of the Expo. That year, the E3 live stream would consist of 2 hours of live content, and online coverage through a separate partnership with IGN. 3 years later in 2008, E3 broadcasted 17 hours of live Expo content through the same cable network, G4. In 3 short years E3 almost 10x’d their televised coverage of the event, a clear indicator that they saw the value in broadcasting to those that couldn’t physically be there. But 2005-2008 was just the start, the real broadcasting prowess of the E3 team would really begin to shine a few years later when live streaming comes into the fold.
After a brief reversion to refusing public attendance, E3 again opened it’s doors to every-day gamers in 2009. That year, they drove 41,000 people to the LA Convention Center. It was a marked improvement, having only seen 5,000 attendees the previous year (2008). With the moratorium on public viewing lifted, digital viewership could now also begin to expand just as drastically. At this point in it’s history, E3 has completely solved the puzzle of physical attendees. Aside from the years they restricted their event to the public, people have consistently shown up in droves to attend. Although it is hard to find reliable live streaming statistics for the years in between, it’s clear to see their live streaming initiatives really took off in 2015.
20 years after their first rendition of the Expo, which was only open to industry professionals, E3 live streamed 41 hours of the 2015 show. Considering that the show is only 3 days long and does not run 24/7, 41 hours is a heavy majority of the available show content. Over the course of the 3 days long live stream, 21,038,004 people watched 11,980,000 hours of content.*
The broadcast’s peak concurrent view count registered over 840,000 unique viewers at it’s height. From this data alone, one can see how much E3 broadened their reach. When comparing the 52,000 people that attended in L.A. to the 21,038,004 people that watched the broadcast during the weekend, there is clear increase in exposure. By live streaming it to the world the show increased their audience by 404x, no other medium has a similar reach.
Having seen the advantages of live streaming in years past, E3 continued their efforts in 2016. In line with the 2015 strategy, they would live stream most of the Expo through various outlets. Interest in the digital event was, again, higher than the previous year. With the peak concurrent view counter edging near 1,000,000 views, 2016 was the biggest E3 live stream in history. Below is a graph showing peak concurrent viewer counts for each press event.
E3 Live Streaming Numbers: Peak Concurrent Viewers Chart
Setting concurrent viewer statistics aside, the E3 live stream in 2016 saw an increase in viewership for every developer conference (Sony, Microsoft, etc.) besides Nintendo (see above).
Spoiler alert: 2017 would be no different, seeing record viewer numbers and a staggering amount of content produced. In total, about 5,500 hours of E3 2017 content was live streamed in various languages via Twitch.tv and Youtube. Events included all of the major press events, interviews with influencers, and behind the scenes footage from industry parties. The biggest of these events was Microsoft’s official press event, where they would announce a new console and a litany of new games. During that event, the E3 live stream would see a peak concurrent view number of 1,103,602 viewers.
To put this into perspective we’ll compare to one of the biggest live streams, the inauguration of President Donald Trump. During this all day affair, which boasted 12,000,000 tweets, Buzzfeed’s coverage saw a peak concurrent viewer count of 377,000. In other words, Microsoft’s E3 press conference drew almost 4x the live audience than the inauguration of our sitting President. Keeping this in mind, it’s difficult to not acknowledge the power of live streaming. When factoring in the digital audience, no conference/expo in the world has a reach equal to E3’s.
This is the result of only one thing, live streaming their show in it’s entirety. Don’t gate your content to the world, force it in front of as many eyes as possible. By giving the fans a glimpse into your event, their craving to attend only increases. With the craving to attend in the flesh comes the social media buzz and other online press. All of these things will drastically improve your event, and it’s all the result of live streaming.
*This is not to say that there were 11.9 million hours of content streamed. It is a measurement of how much content was consumed by the 21,000,000 unique viewers.*