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Call of Duty League sets viewership record on first day of 2023 season cover image

Call of Duty League sets viewership record on first day of 2023 season

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More than 140,000 viewers tuned in to OpTic Texas versus Minnesota Rokkr.

The Call of Duty League (CDL) has set the record for their highest non-Major event viewership on the opening day of its 2023 season.
Call of Duty League 2020 Season 2020-01-24. Photo via BEN-PURSELL for Activision Blizzard Entertainment.
Call of Duty League 2020 Season 2020-01-24. Photo via BEN-PURSELL for Activision Blizzard Entertainment.

Call of Duty League viewership

The record comes on the first day that the league is being streamed on Twitch. Previously, it was only available to watch on YouTube. Now, everyone is also able to co-stream the action, which is another change from last year.
OpTic Texas and Minnesota Rokkr came together to break the record. During their match on opening day, they held a constant viewership of over 130,000 people. The match had its peak viewership at around 140,000 viewers on the main stream. The overall number will likely be over 20,000 more than that including co-streams.
The previous record was set two seasons ago. OpTic Texas, then Chicago, were also involved in that one. It was the first meeting of OpTic and perennial rivals FaZe at the start of the Cold War season.
FaZe vs OpTic in Cold War's opening week had its viewership peak at 131,008 viewers, according to escharts.com.
CDL viewership on Twitch during the OpTic versus Rokkr matchup. Screenshot via Esports.gg.
CDL viewership on Twitch during the OpTic versus Rokkr matchup. Screenshot via Esports.gg.
The CDL's Twitch channel pulled in more than 138,000 viewers during the OpTic versus Rokkr match on Modern Warfare 2 (MW2) opening day. Not only did it beat out the Cold War matchup, it's now the highest viewership in the CDL era of matches that aren't part of Major tournaments.
Only five events have had higher peak viewership than the opening day of the 2023 CDL. Those events include all three World Championship tournaments and the Stage 1 and Stage 4 Majors from the Vanguard season.
Every other event, LAN or online, was beaten by the OpTic versus Rokkr matchup.

Twitch viewership rises

The CDL did not renew its deal with YouTube for exclusive streaming rights. That was a deal that had been in place since the franchising came into the esport.
The 2023 season opener beat several LAN events in terms of peak viewership. That included last season's Major 3, which was won by Seattle Surge. Photo via Ant Stonelake.
The 2023 season opener beat several LAN events in terms of peak viewership. That included last season's Major 3, which was won by Seattle Surge. Photo via Ant Stonelake.
Twitch is far more accessible for fans. The platform also has a far better discoverability system then YouTube has in place. Fans who would watch matches on YouTube would typically only be able to watch it when they sought it out. Twitch encourages far more casual viewers to hop into streams.
That encouragement of casual viewership is part of the reason that the opening weekend for Modern Warfare 2's first CDL season broke records.
Another reason is simply how quickly the season has come round since the release of the game. Call of Duty: Vanguard's CDL viewership peaked at 79,000 in its opening weekend, which didn't happen until three months after the game released.
In contrast, MW2 has been out to the public for just over a month, interest in the game is at its highest level and being able to grab those viewers into the CDL viewership is an important mechanic in gaining and retaining viewers for the whole season.

Stay tuned on Esports.gg for all the latest Call of Duty and Warzone 2 news and updates.
Ant Stonelake
Ant Stonelake
Contributor | Twitter @itsjustantnow
Doubling as a football (soccer) journalist following EFL League Two club Tranmere Rovers, Ant has a long-standing passion for gaming. That, combined with the drive to create content in the esports space led to the creation of The Rotation, a Call of Duty news platform.