Despite the millions invested into the Call of Duty League and Activision’s backing, the viewership has not been what many would have hoped for. But, hope is not lost. There are a handful of things the CDL could do to maximize viewership and capitalize on the Call of Duty series’ monumental player-base.
The Call of Duty League’s second season is reaching a climax and, despite the heightening of tensions and prize money, its YouTube viewership is still leaving a lot to be desired.
With millions invested by orgs, owners, sponsors and more, viewers regularly touching 6-figures would have been targeted. Unfortunately, it has struggled to come anywhere close, with viewership generally hovering anywhere between 10,000 and 50,000 viewers. It has fallen lower though, sitting at a woeful 8,000 during the ROKKR’s Stage 5 home series.
So what can the CDL do to improve viewership? Here are a few things we’d like to see that would be conducive to reeling in a bigger audience.
First up is something totally with in the league’s control – format changes. The current system sees a number of weeks of regular matches in groups, which go on to decide seeding and starting brackets for the end-of-stage major tournaments.
The problem is that there’s generally very little on the line in these matches. A lot of viewers are simply not interested in Florida versus Paris to decide who’ll get the slightly easier Losers’ Bracket match.
With the ROKKR home series in Stage 5 – and the fact that only 8 out of 12 teams qualify for Champs – a number of teams (Seattle, London and others) actually have nothing to play for. They can’t qualify, so what’s the incentive to watch matches? The format should eliminate these ‘dead-rubber’ games as much as possible.
Better in-game Ranked System
This is not a particularly new idea, with prominent CoD figures like CouRage calling on developers to spend more time on in-game ranking systems. The main thing lacking in CoD’s competitive modes is consistency. Some have League Play, some Arena Mode, while some never get more than a CDL ruleset playlist.
Black Ops Cold War’s League Play is also incredibly confusing. Players are placed into incomprehensibly named divisions, and assigned seemingly random rewards points and diamonds at the end of cycles.
A good in-game ranked system would encourage players to engage with the competitive aspects of Call of Duty titles and, naturally, drive them towards the CDL. We’ve seen it in action before too – Black Ops 2’s League Play being the prime example.
Improved CDL broadcasts
Next up is the broadcasts themselves. Not only do they happen frustratingly late in the day for anyone east of New York (viewers in Europe are expected to stay up until the early hours every night to see matches conclude), but the broadcasts themselves are dominated by adverts for mobile games and countdown timers.
Plenty of fans tune in to watch Call of Duty, but it feels like more time is spent hearing how Cesar ‘Skyz’ Bueno is investing in his game.
The need for advertising is obvious, but better filler segments and the reduction of countdowns could be a simple yet significant improvement to retaining viewers.
Use Warzone’s popularity
The popularity of Warzone appears both a blessing and a curse for Activision. Millions playing is any publisher’s dream, but playing a spin-off BR rather than the CDL’s annual title seems to be hurting viewership.
With players dropping into Verdansk rather than Checkmate Hardpoint, there’s not the interest in Cold War that there could be. The answer, then seems simple: use Warzone to promote competitive CoD and the CDL.
We’ve seen some efforts on this front, but plenty more can be done. Offer in-game rewards (both BOCW and Warzone) for watching the CDL, promote broadcasts and Champs through in-game events and generally get creative. If Warzone is an advert with millions of daily viewers, use it, and them.