LCS viewership is down compared to 2022. Should fans be worried?

Colin Young-Wolff/Riot Games

After scheduling changes that were universally panned by the community and a message to the community that “missed the mark” according to Riot’s President of Esports, LCS viewership is down. Should fans be worried for the future of NA League of Legends?

It’s been almost impossible to escape the whirlwind of negative press around the LCS. Between Dash’s departure and schedule changes pushed the LCS broadcasts off a weekend schedule, many fans feel that the off-season was poorly handled.

This is something that John Needham, President of Esports at Riot Games, fully owned up to in a lengthy interview with Travis Gafford. Riot didn’t communicate very well with the community, and, according to Needham, they “missed the mark” with messaging in the off-season.

Article continues after ad

As a result, LCS viewership is down one week into the spring split. But should the alarm bells be sounding, ringing in the death of North American League of Legends?

LCS average viewership down by 12%

According to a statistics-based report from Esports Charts, the average and peak viewership for the LCS were both down compared to 2022’s opening day.

But there’s a lot more to the story than raw statistics here, and a lot that’s changed with pro League of Legends. Not only did the LCS give up its prime-time Saturday/Sunday time slot, the LEC is also on a completely different day. That means, if European viewers want to watch the LCS, they have to go out of their way to tune in and watch on an entirely different day.

Article continues after ad

Not to mention, viewership isn’t down by that much.

With the biggest teams playing at a time where many North American viewers who have a normal 9-5 work/school schedule can’t tune in and the death of LEC viewer runoff, a 12% dip in average viewership isn’t a huge blow. If anything, it means that actual North American fans could be more interested this year than they were last time around.

That said, there are a lot of positives and negatives to take into consideration. On one hand, there are a lot more co-streamers than last year have permission to stream LCS matches directly, leaving the main broadcast with less viewers than before while allowing pro matches to reach a larger audience.

Article continues after ad

On the other hand, viewers have really been enjoying the new direction the LCS broadcast has taken. Between a season trailer that doesn’t take itself too seriously and QTCinderella’s stellar guest spot that was extremely well-received by the community, the LCS is starting to gain an identity of its own.

There are also a lot of new storylines to follow in the LCS that involve some of the world’s best players being imported to the region, with some classic ones like the return of Bjergsen and Doublelift mixed in to get new fans invest and old fans re-invested in the league.

Article continues after ad

While viewership is down, there are a lot of factors to take into consideration as to why. If things continue on a downward trend and viewership dips as the weeks go on, there’s certainly cause for concern. But it’s not all doom and gloom in the LCS, and it’s really difficult to predict how things will turn out.

Colin Young-Wolff/Riot Games | LCS

Even the fans are telling two different stories. Everyone’s happy to be there and watching the new season, but it’s still a very real concern whether fans will be able to take time off work every week to make it out to the studio. It doesn’t matter how good the production is, how thrilling the matches are, and how many storylines there are to get invested in if the target audience is stuck at their 9-5 or in a lecture.

Article continues after ad

It’s undisputable that the LCS is at a major turning point. Whether or not that turning point leads them on a path to regaining former glory or condemnation to being the “retirement league” depends on how the rest of the season plays out.