THE WASHINGTON POST – Esports is planting its first flag into the coveted, popular on Monday evening time slot, with the League of Legends Championship Series (LCS) announcing it will air a marquee match-up on the weeknight.
The North American-based League series will announce the schedule for its first Monday night match-ups on Thursday, said Chris Greeley, LCS Commissioner at Riot Games, the League of Legends developer. The introduction of Monday night competitions, a first for the league, came after studying viewer habits, but also discussing the schedule expansion with LCS teams.
“The overwhelming feeling was, let’s carve out a space where nobody else is,” Greeley said to The Post. “We can start to create some habits right alongside our fans. Get home from work, get home from school and have something to tune into on Monday nights instead of the void we have now.”
All 10 LCS teams will be featured on Monday nights. Greeley said every team will have three Monday nights across the spring season. Week nine will not feature a Monday night game.
The addition of Monday matches highlights a new broadcast schedule format for the league during its spring split. Fridays will feature four simultaneous matches between LCS Academy teams, with LCS casters jumping from match to match based on which is showcasing the best action at that moment. It’s a format similar to the one the NFL uses with its weekly Red Zone broadcasts, highlighting the top plays around the league. Start times have not yet been determined for those matches each week.
On Saturday the league will air matches from four LCS games, along with one Academy match, with the pre-show beginning at 4.30pm Eastern time. Sunday will mirror that with a pre-show start time of 3pm Eastern time.
The Monday broadcasts, dubbed Monday Night League, will begin with a pre-show broadcast at 8pm Eastern time. It will include two LCS games. Three Academy games will air earlier that afternoon at a time yet to be confirmed.
While the NFL has sold rights to its Monday Night Football games independently of its other rights packages, Greeley said that throughout 2020 there is no change as to where all of its games will air. Greeley said LCS is committed to its current broadcasting options, including its own website, YouTube and Twitch.
Greeley makes no secret that the LCS hopes to mimic the success of the NFL programme, however.
“The NFL will be the best example on how they’ve been able to monetise Monday Night Football,” he said. “We’re certainly looking to follow a similar model, and we’ll be trying to find different ways to make it special.”
The League of Legends World Championships has been often compared to the Super Bowl, though viewership metrics for the Super Bowl and League of Legends World Finals are calculated differently. Riot Games said it drew in more than 100 million viewers world wide during the Paris finals last year. League of Legends reportedly had about eight million players logging in to the game itself daily during 2019, a strong base for the LCS to pull potential esports fans.
Given the schedule of the NFL and LCS, there’s no overlap between Monday Night League and Monday Night Football fans, save for one possible night near the end of the summer.
“In terms of Monday night sporting events, we’ll be the only game in town,” Greeley said of the immediate future.