IEM Katowice 2023 continued the trend of decreasing viewership figures, which comes just as the game is experiencing a surge in popularity among players.
After the CS:GO season started with a BLAST Premier event that drew unimpressive viewership numbers, IEM Katowice provided a better test of the esport’s current standing as its biggest rival, Valorant, is about to host its first international competition of 2023.
IEM Katowice is one of the most iconic events on the esports calendar, with roots that stretch back nearly a decade. It was the first tournament of the year with a crowd, and it had a $1 million prize pool and 17 of the 20 best teams in the world to draw in fans.
But despite the hype surrounding the tournament, fewer people tuned in to watch the games when compared to last year. IEM Katowice 2023 averaged 234,041 viewers, a 29% decrease from 2022, while the peak viewership of 712,534 viewers, hit during the final between G2 Esports and Heroic, was 36% lower than last year’s peak of over 1.1 million people, according to statistics website Esports Charts.
This comes amid news that CS:GO is experiencing new levels of popularity worldwide. On February 11, days after the release of the Revolution Case, the game hit a new all-time player count record with 1,320,219 concurrent players. It beat the previous record, set in April 2020, by around 12,000 players.
There were significant dips in peak viewers across the English (28%), Russian (38%) and Portuguese (38%) language streams, with the latter partly explained by the Brazilian teams’ struggles in Katowice. Even world No.9 FURIA could not make it past the Play-In Stage after losing to BIG and IHC Esports.
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But the biggest decrease happened in the Vietnamese language streams, which were down 88% when compared to last year’s peak of 155,380 viewers. This is mainly due to the fact that Nimo TV, the Huya-owned streaming platform, was shut down in 14 countries in April 2022 due to financial issues.
FURIA were not the only team that underperformed in Katowice. Reigning champions FaZe, who were within striking distance of the Intel Grand Slam, failed to reach the playoffs, while Cloud9 could not win a single match in the tournament.
By contrast, Heroic were one of the least popular organizations represented in Katowice, with just 276,000 followers on social media, according to Esports Charts.
This trend of declining viewership has hit most esports titles in 2023 and was already on display in the BLAST Premier Spring Groups, where numbers were down across the board.
The next event on the CS:GO international calendar is ESL Pro League Season 17, a month-long tournament in Malta with 32 teams and a $850,000 prize pool.