Apex Legends Esports Struggle to Gain Traction on Twitch

When Apex Legends  released in early February, the initial surge in viewership that it attracted was the likes of which had never been seen on Twitch for a game launch. For the first few weeks of its existence, the title was pulling the same sort of viewership that Dota 2 , one of Twitch’s most-watched esports, gets during its premier yearly tournament The International.

However, after a month of being on the streaming platform, its viewership saw a consistent taper that has pushed the game not only below other top battle royales like Fortnite  and PLAYERUNKNOWN’S BATTLEGROUNDS, but it has also fallen out of the top 10 and seemingly out of relevance on Twitch.  

Hoping to buck that trend, tournament organizer FACEIT  recently began an Apex Legends Pro Series. While the event has a relatively small prize pool of just $50K USD, it managed to attract participation from numerous high-profile organizations that signed on Apex Legends teams such as Cloud9  and NRG Esports .

Just one week into the eight-week series, it’s too early to make definitive statements about its success or failure at captivating viewers, but if the expectation was that it would help to regrow Apex Legends’ viewership on Twitch, early indications suggest that it has a long way to go.

The FACEIT channel on Twitch produced a 7.5-hour broadcast on Friday with an average concurrent viewership (CCV) of 777 totaling 5K hours watched. Viewership of Apex Legends as a whole didn’t see too much of a boost either. Friday’s 214K hours watched for Apex Legends wasn’t even in the upper half of days for the month in terms of viewership.

It didn’t help that the series began at a time when much of Twitch viewers’ attention was being stolen by the highly-anticipated return of Daniel “Keemstar” Keem’s Friday Fortnite as Tyler “Ninja” Blevins produced his best stream of the year during a third-place finish.

Though Friday Fortnite’s $20K weekly prize pool doesn’t make it significantly higher in importance than the Pro Series, participation from many of Twitch’s top streamers like Blevins and Nick “NickMercs” Kolcheff helps to give the competition clout in the form of bragging rights among top personalities.

Not only has Apex Legends struggled to compete with Fortnite, but it’s not getting viewership comparable to PUBG either. This past week, Apex Legends failed to record even half of the total hours watched that PUBG did.

It’s clear that Apex Legends viewership on Twitch is a far cry from where it was in its first few weeks when its initial influencer-laden foray into esports with Twitch Rivals exceeded Fortnite’s all-time high for hours watched.

But it’s not as if the title doesn’t have the potential to recapture an audience similar to what Rainbow Six: Siege has done with its esports scene. After R6’s  release in 2015, it became a largely unwatched game on Twitch until a strong esports following for the game was slowly cultivated, and in 2018, the game’s esports helped it more than double its Twitch audience from the previous year.

Apex Legends’ opportunity to dethrone Fortnite as the most-watched title on Twitch could very well be expired, but despite low viewership for professional competition so far, it is still such a young game that it has ample opportunity to grow into a respected part of the esports marketplace. With the proper distribution of resources, EA is powerful enough as a developer that it has the potential to breathe life back into Apex Legends through esports even if it might not be able to match the audience and reach of Fortnite.

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