Riot Games Senior Director of Esports Operations in the Americas Raul Fernandez recently confirmed the company is not making a profit off their Esports league.
Axios, who spoke with Fernandez during the LCS Summer Finals at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey on August 20th, reports that Fernandez informed them the “long-running League of Legends esports league is not breaking even.”
Not only is the league not breaking even, but Axios also reports that Fernandez informed them that it’s actually on the decline. In fact, Games Industry notes that Esports Charts claims viewership of the LCS Summer Finals declined 21.8% compared to the LCS Spring Finals. Peak viewers for the LCS Summer Finals declined by nearly 50,000 viewers from 271,376 to 223,943. The decline is even sharper when you look back just a year ago. The LCS Summer Finals 2022 had peak viewership of 370,178. The LCS Summer Finals 2021 brought in 364,328 peak viewers.
Fernandez stated, “We’re trying to find our footing, trying to find a way to refresh our league.”
However, Fernandez alongside Riot Games’ Carlos Antunes, Head of League Legends Esports – Americas, spoke with the press at the LCS Summer Finals informing them the league was in a healthy position.
As reported by Dot Esports, Fernandez said, “I just wanted to make it very loud and very clear that the LCS is in a very healthy position financially because of this sustained and continued support from both external partners, the team side, from sponsors, as well as internally.”
He continued, “Riot is still very much in esports in the long run. It has continued to invest in esports despite many other companies trying to step out of this ecosystem, and we’re going to continue to double down because it is one of our most important pillars. We’re not here for the short term. We’re here to make this last for generations.”
As for why the league is struggling, Antunes speculated it might have something to do with the way the league is scheduled and marketed, “We are all working on scheduling and the functional things to be available and out there for more people, but we’re also looking at the way we promote the LCS, because we see there is a huge space for us to improve and connect.”
He explained, “There is something that happens when we start picks and bans, but there’s a whole world that happens before and after that. We have to be better at taking those stories and engaging those fans to come back and watch us.”
According to Axios, Fernandez also informed them it has a lot to do with how they are monetizing the league specifically with in-game items and digital passes. He notes that many players aren’t buying a number of themed items based on top players or teams because League of Legends has such a huge roster of characters.
The thought is that many players don’t use those characters so they wouldn’t find value in purchasing those items.
What do you make of these Riot Games executives admitting they are not breaking even with their League of Legends Esports league?