Every sports league in the world is dealing with the same questions right now: when to come back, how to make it safe for athletes and fans, and how to avoid losing money in the meantime. One thing sports leagues everywhere are not worried about is how to promote the video game tie-ins they license out every year. That is the seemingly only bright spot for the NFL, NBA, MLB, and FIFA, as athletes the world-over are streaming their gaming sessions on Twitch as a way to promote their own brands, the brands of the videogame developers, and maybe make a little extra money while stadiums are closed.

ESPN has been airing NBA players competing in NBA 2K20 in lieu of live games. Baseball players are streaming the recently released MLB The Show 20, including Cy Young Award-winning pitcher Blake Snell. Is all of this star power helping to attract more viewers and gamers? Data tracked almost every hour via Twitch.tv reveals that the answer is a resounding: oh yeah. 

Devin Booker, an All-Star guard for the Phoenix Suns, won the ESPN tournament against other NBA superstars. Not in a real game, but in NBA 2K20, the video game. This has led to a surge in viewers on Twitch in the last few weeks, reaching as many as 37K viewers in a single night. The NBA 2K franchise is one of the best selling franchises year in and year out, so publisher Take-Two ($NASDAQ:TTWO) should be thrilled at all the recent exposure. 

The same thing happened with EA's ($NASDAQ:EA) Madden NFL 20, which hit almost 70,000 viewers in early April. Madden came out in August, the season ended in February, and there won't be football for a long time. Despite all of that, viewership has been going up, not down, as people look to connect not just with the sport, but with its personalities. 

When MLB The Show 20 came out in March, it peaked at around 12,000 concurrent viewers. Two days ago, it hit a high of 30,000 concurrent viewers, led by some serious baseball talent streaming the game for fans thirsting for the season to start. Meanwhile, MLB Network is running a tournament that is pitting 30 real-world players against one another as representatives of their real-world teams.

The 2020 version of The Show is so popular with would-be baseball viewers that the number of channels streamed at any one time on Twitch is growing exponentially compared to this time last year.

And of course, the most popular sport in the world, soccer (or futbol, or football, whatever you call it) dominates all of Twitch in terms of views. EA's FIFA 20 is a regular threat to hit 250,000 viewers at any given time, and if there is no more European soccer happening (sorry Liverpool) then we might be seeing a lot of frustrating fans log on and either watch or play a ton of FIFA like never before.

About the Data:

Thinknum tracks companies using the information they post online - jobs, social and web traffic, product sales and app ratings - and creates data sets that measure factors like hiring, revenue and foot traffic. Data sets may not be fully comprehensive (they only account for what is available on the web), but they can be used to gauge performance factors like staffing and sales. 

Further Reading: