A recent sporting event drew more viewers than both Game 7 of the 2014 World Series and Game 7 of the 2013 NBA Finals, and you probably have no idea who won.
The Season 4 League of Legends World Championship, won by the South Korean team Samsung White, averaged an astounding 27 million viewers.
By comparison, the World Series between the Giants and Royals averaged 15.8 million viewers (Game 7 hit 23.5 million) and the 2014 Miami Heat-San Antonio Spurs series drew an average 15.5 million viewers.
Game 7 of the 2013 Heat-Spurs series drew 26.3 million viewers.
And get this -- viewership of the League of Legends championship was down five million viewers from 2013.
These viewership numbers are a testament to the enormous popularity of video games and the passion with which fans follow their teams. The gamers are enormous celebrities, and some make nearly $1 million a year.
Viewers watched a combined 179 hours of League of Legends competition, with 40 companies broadcasting the games in 19 languages. Although the competition took place in October, the calculations for the TV ratings weren't finalized until Monday.
After the 2013 championships were staged at Staples Center in Los Angeles, this year the tournament moved to Taiwan, Singapore and Korea. The finals took place at South Korea's 40,000-seat Sangam Stadium, which was built for the 2002 World Cup. Below are some images from the event:
— GamesBeat (@GamesBeat) October 20, 2014
League of Legends finalists view at a sold out world cup stadium in Seoul, South Korea. pic.twitter.com/kbz3l0UbU4
— Usman (@MohamedUsman2) October 19, 2014
South Korea filled a World Cup stadium with 40,000 people to watch a bunch of kids play league of legends.... pic.twitter.com/YKGMhDpAgX
— Money MACziel (@MichaelCecere) October 20, 2014
League of Legends has made significantly headway in the United States, and earlier this year Chicago's Robert Morris University became the first college to offer scholarships for video gamers.