Twitch has firmly established itself as a critical channel for publishers to connect with their fan bases during E3. After a large jump in viewership last year to over 21 million viewers, Twitch once again saw growth year over year with the number of peak concurrent viewers during the show rising from 840,000 to 925,000.
For the second year in a row, peak E3 Twitch viewership occurred during the Electronic Arts press event. The success of the EA stream is interesting in light of EA's decision to pull out of E3 this year and conduct their own event, EA Play. As part of the EA Play scheduling, EA moved their press event from their traditional Monday afternoon time slot to Sunday afternoon. The early afternoon on the West coast is an optimal time for event streaming because it occurs during European waking hours, and EA's moving their event to the weekend emphasizes their increased focus on consumers.
The majority of Press Events had increased Twitch viewership in 2016. The graph below shows the number of peak concurrent viewers during each of the 7 major hardware and software company press events in 2016 and 2015.
Nintendo was the only press event to see a decline in peak concurrent viewers in 2016 despite showing a new Zelda title that generated significant consumer buzz. Nintendo proactively announced before the show that they would not be providing news on the new NX platform and that Zelda would not be available this year. This may have helped avoid backlash from disappointed gamers, but it likely also had a negative impact on the press event's viewership.
The PC Gaming Show found its stride in its second year, more than doubling in peak concurrent viewers from 276,000 to almost 600,000 viewers. Last year, the event was almost an afterthought as the last event to stream on Tuesday evening. This year, the event filled in the Monday morning gap between the end of the Microsoft conference and the beginning of the Ubisoft conference, and benefited from the boost in viewers watching the stream between the two major events.
Sony also saw significant growth in press conference viewership year over year, but there is an argument to be made that the company's 6PM PST time slot continues to have a negative impact on the number of streaming viewers. Sony only had the fourth highest viewership among press conferences, even as other metrics had the company driving the most consumer interest of any publisher. Indeed, in our analysis of the events on GamesIndustry.biz, we praised Sony for creating a conference that was "designed to be an enjoyable streaming show with the focus on content, crowd energy, and exciting visuals." It is likely that the Sony press event's viewership would have been higher if it streamed at an earlier time.
In an analysis after last year's event, EEDAR found that morning/afternoon press events had a higher level of viewership than the evening events, even though the evening events were praised by the majority of the video game press. EEDAR attributed this drop in viewership to the Los Angeles evening being unfavorably late in critical regions, such as Europe. We suggested that the gaming companies may want to revisit their E3 press event scheduling strategy in order to optimize their streaming viewership. The viewership numbers of the 2016 events supports this idea.