Head of VCT: ‘We don’t care’ about borrowed viewership claims from co-streams
Since even the earliest days of VALORANT esports, the scene has been buffed by its streaming personalities, especially with their influences on their communities to play the game and subsequently watch the pros battle it out.
The Riot Games title attracted a wealth of the biggest streamers in the world from the get-go, and if it wasn’t enough seeing the likes of FPS wizards like Michael "Shroud" Grzesiek, some of the best players in the world also became flagship faces for the esport, like Tyson "TenZ" Ngo.
Since then, the esport has benefited from these personalities co-streaming events, with Shroud leading viewership in the early stages and then Tarik "Tarik" Celik picking up where the former left off. But is this a healthy business model for the VCT? Riot Games thinks so.
Head of VALORANT Esports discusses co-streaming 'borrowed' viewership numbers
With Shroud firstly, and now Tarik, consistently out-viewing the main VALORANT broadcast on Twitch, many fans have voiced their concerns at whether this is safe for VCT to be putting so much faith in streamers, and if they left the scene, would the viewership take a significant hit?
However, Head of VALORANT Esports at Riot Games, Leo Faria, has claimed that co-streaming is healthy for the VCT and that if VALORANT fans want to watch the VCT, they will find a way no matter where the broadcast lies.
"We knew there was an appetite for creators to bring their own personality and their own communities into our show. So we see co-streaming viewership and we are just incredibly happy because their success is our success and vice versa," Faria said in a pre-Champions press conference.
Faria continued to say that Riot isn’t worried about "borrowed" viewers from streamers’ communities though, and encourages more co-streamers to bring their personal fans into VALORANT.
"I think there is a concern from certain parts of the community around, ‘are these acquired viewers? Are these borrowed viewers? If Tarik decides to go stream something else, is he gonna take the audience with him?’ The reality is we don't care," he added.
"We look at Tarik, he is such an incredible guy. He's such a great personality. He knows a lot about the game. He's a core part of our community and we just love him being successful. We'll have him as long as he wants to be in VALORANT, and if one day he decides to go and stream something else, that's completely fine.
"I think fans who are part of our community that VALORANT serves well, will find different ways to experience VALORANT, but I think co-streaming as a whole has been a gigantic win, and we're just very happy."
Head of VALORANT Esports encourages co-streaming amid viewership concerns
With the streamer influence being as heavy as it is in VALORANT, Faria has doubled down on Riot’s stance on co-streaming, encouraging more of this action in faith that the company just wants to go wherever the fans are.
"We're not worried about co-streaming at all. If anything, we're gonna lean more into co-streaming because we have this philosophy at Riot about we want to be where our players are and where our fans are. If they love to watch a certain influencer cast over our game, I think that's amazing."
Faria also said that this doesn’t take away from the VCT teams' success either, given it’s the same product, just with an extra personality.
"We also saw some people online saying, 'Tarik is bigger than the official VCT stream'. That's another thing we really don't care about.
"First of all, the entire official stream and the hundreds of people who work to put that show on air, it's right there on Tarik’s stream as well. They're seeing the same camera cuts, hearing the same shout casters in the play-by-play. But at the end of the day, I just want to make sure we're saying that it's not a competition.
"We're very happy to let fans watch champions, however they want to."
Champions did see a minor dip in viewership through the Group Stages, given that the Pacific time zone of Los Angeles isn’t suitable for a lot of regions, but with the influx of fans watching in China too, Faria claims Champions 2023 is the most-watched VALORANT event yet, which can only be healthy for the game in the future.