Update: President and Co-Founder Marc Merrill confirmed on Twitter that the 8.5 million statistic is for peak simultaneous viewers.
Riot Games has officially announced the viewership numbers for their League of Legends Season 3 World Championship Finals event. This year's final match between South Korea's SK Telecom T1 and China's Royal Club took place at a sold out Staples Center.
Over 32 million people tuned into the match via online streaming, and across TV stations in China, Korea, and "other countries." This is in comparison to the 8.2 million fans that viewed last year's Season 2 finals, a number which was also surpassed by a Season 3 peak viewership of over 8.5 million people that included both Online and TV numbers. That peak was nearly 8 times greater than the Season 2 peak of 1.1 million. Riot's Season 3 World Championship Finals event is now the most watched esports event of all time.
To borrow Major League Baseball as a comparison, game one of the 2013 World Series drew a reported average 14.4 million television viewers.
Following the finals, GameSpot eSports reported the official "#Worlds" Twitter hashtag was tweeted up to 20,000 times per hour at one point during the match, and trended over 40 times in the United States throughout the playoffs. Reddit General Manager Erik Martin said that the League of Legends subreddit had more views (5.8M views) on the day of the finals than subreddits for the series finale of Breaking Bad (4.7M views), The Super Bowl (930k views), Game 7 of the 2012-2013 NBA Finals (1.2M views), and release of Grand Theft Auto V (1M views).
"League Of Legends is a huge force," Martin told GameSpot eSports at the time. "Spikes from LoL events on Reddit rival The Super Bowl, Oscars, and even national elections. What's even more amazing is that most people have never heard of it. People also used to dismiss MMA and Nascar and even basketball back in the day. They'll come around."
Riot Games also recently announced next year's All-Star tournament would take place in Europe, with the 2014 World Championships finishing off the season in South Korea.
Image Credit: LoLesports.com
Updated with a tweet from Riot Games President Marc Merrill.