Success of La Liga Santander Challenge demonstrates ‘untapped potential’ of traditional and e-sports convergence

This report was provided by Nielsen Sports

Nielsen Sports insight reveals high levels of social media engagement in Spanish top-flight’s FIFA e-tournament

Key insights:

  • FIFA20 tournament, won by Real Madrid’s Marco Asensio, watched by average minute audience of 123,000
  • Final watched by a peak audience of 173,000 on esports streaming platform Twitch
  • Tournament generated more than 1,100 pieces of online news coverage
  • High engagement levels saw more than 35,000 tweets or retweets related to the event

Insight from Nielsen Sports, the global leader in sports industry analytics, reveals the success of the #LaLigaSantanderChallenge, which saw players from 18 of Spain’s 20 top-flight football clubs take part in an online EA Sports FIFA20 tournament across the weekend of March 20-22.

The virtual tournament, organized by Spanish esports personality Ibai Llanos and La Liga Santander, took place against the backdrop of worldwide lockdown measures to curb the Covid-19 pandemic, which have led to the vast majority of sporting events being postponed, suspended or cancelled.

Nielsen Sports analyzed the performance of the event across four mediums: the esports streaming service, Twitch; live TV broadcasts; online news coverage; and social media mentions and engagement.

The data shows that the tournament performed strongly on Twitch, with the number of viewers growing consistently each day, reaching a minute average of 123,000 on Saturday 21st and Sunday 22nd. The final, which saw Real Madrid’s Marco Asensio beat Leganés’ Aitor Ruibal 4-2, attracted a peak audience of 173,000 on the platform.

The event was also shown across mainstream broadcast channels Movistar Deportes 1, Gol and #Vamos, attracting a cumulative audience of more than 205,000 over the weekend. The total broadcast coverage lasted more than 23 hours, with the high viewership figures suggesting there are opportunities for brands to capitalize on the enthusiasm of traditional and esports fans via both streaming services and mainstream television.

Nielsen Sports’ data also suggests that traditional sports and associated brands can utilize esports to generate online news coverage in the absence of live, traditional sports. Online news outlets were a significant source of exposure for the event, with interest remaining high from the announcement of the tournament, through to the official draw, line-ups and the event itself. In total, more than 1,100 pieces of online news coverage were generated around the #LaLigaSantanderChallenge, across national and international sports and non-sports media.

The support from traditional broadcasters and high levels of online news coverage, coupled with the large pool of esports enthusiasts tuning in on Twitch, helped drive high levels of social media engagement around the event, particularly on Twitter. The confirmation of an impressive line-up of clubs and individual players helped raise interest further, with the likes of Real Madrid harnessing their huge Twitter following of 33.97m to drive more engagement.

In total the event generated more than 35,000 tweets and retweets, with engagement levels rising consistently over the course of the weekend, peaking during the final.

Phelan Hill, Senior Consultant at Nielsen Sports, commented: “The success of the #LaLigaSantanderChallenge shows there is a huge, untapped potential for sports properties and brands to utilize esports effectively to engage new and existing audiences.

“The high levels of interest across the four channels we looked at also suggests there are thousands of esports fans out there who are ready to consume digital content produced by global sports stars, clubs and organizations. This opens up a valuable opportunity for brands to reach a typically young, highly engaged audience.”

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