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Esports viewing breaks records as 'stay at home economy' booms

16 Mar 2020

Sports competitions across the planet are being postponed or cancelled daily due to COVID-19 fears, and despite esports competitions being hosted on online servers, in most cases, they occur at a physical location which usually attract a large audience.

As this is no longer a sustainable or safe practice in many places, e-sports competitions have adapted to suit the booming ‘stay at home economy’.

In an affirmation of the potential of remote esports, Torque Esports yesterday reported it broke new records in the motorsport genre with the creation “The Race All-Star Esports Battle” – streamed live on YouTube and Twitch.

The event was created a mere 48 hours following the cancellation of the opening round of the FIA Formula 1 World Championship in Australia which was due to run this weekend.

The NASCAR, Formula E, IndyCar and the World Endurance Championship were also shut down due to protocols implemented to combat the coronavirus.

Sunday’s competition featured real-world race drivers including Formula 1 star Max Verstappen, Felix Rosenqvist and Colton Herta, as well as Formula E stars Antonio Felix Da Costa, Max Gunther and Neel Jani – all competing against the world’s best sim racing drivers.

 The Race All-Star Esports Battle on the rFactor 2 platform was Sunday’s top-streamed esports event in the world during the broadcast- beating competitions on League of Legends, Call of Duty, Nioh 2 and  PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds.

Stream Hatchet reported the event had 90% more live viewers in history than any esports racing event ever held on any streaming platform.

The event outperformed the average major sports league on Twitch, generating more average viewers than major sports leagues, says Torque. 

“Race fans around the world are starved of entertainment at the moment - but the beauty of esports racing competition is the fact you can set up events anywhere around the world at any time,” says Torque Esports president and chief executive officer Darren Cox.

“With the current COVID-19 situation around the world, the “stay at home economy” is surging and Torque Esports is ideally positioned to provide the fan base with compelling virtual versions of real-world motorsport.

“But even ‘real-world’ is a difficult description to use - esports is growing dramatically as a competition and entertainment platform and now rivals the box office, TV and digital music combined! That certainly makes it ‘real.’”

Cox says the potential for a huge rise in viewership in the next few months for esports is very real, given the number of people staying at home and the lack of real-world sports.

“Today’s event drives home the incredible potential for esports racing as an entertainment platform.

“To cultivate a bigger audience than the mainstream combat gaming titles today is quite astounding,” says Cox.

“More people watched today’s ‘The Race All-Star Esports Battle” online than watch a Formula 1 race on Sky TV in the UK – that is an incredible statistic.”

The race was won by sim racer Jernej Simoncic. Torque Esports will repeat the esports racing event next week with separate events for both the real-world racers and the regular esports competitors.