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How Scump and Watch Parties Boosted CDL Viewership

2023 has seen strong viewership for the CDL Majors, but how will Major 5 stack up?

The Call of Duty League has continued to thrive despite missteps from Activision Blizzard — and the Stage 5 Major 2023 is looking to be the most-viewed Call of Duty League major yet.

Activision Blizzard’s recent earnings call suggested trouble may be in store for the Overwatch League and Call of Duty League. According to Activision Blizzard representatives, there may not be enough money coming in to support the future of both esports franchises. This isn’t a huge surprise for anyone following the OWL’s steady decline in viewership and earnings, but it’s a frustrating situation for the growing fanbase supporting the Call of Duty League.

“We continue to work to address these challenges, which could result in significant costs, and such efforts may prove unsuccessful,” the report stated.

With the Call of Duty League supported by Activision Blizzard, the CoD esports scene became more rigidly structured, with seasons split into five stages — each ending with a Major. Each stage has the teams split into two groups, decided by a draft system. Teams will earn CDL points in hopes of becoming one of the top eight teams to compete in the playoffs with the ultimate goal of competing at the Call of Duty League Championship.

All viewership data is from Esports Charts

Call of Duty League Peak Viewership

The first year of the Call of Duty League saw a peak viewership of 331,558 viewers during the Finals. 2021 saw a dip, most likely due to a lack of novelty the inaugural year enjoyed. But the action has only continued to accelerate from there as the Call of Duty League continues to evolve.

With popular teams to follow, iconic players to root for, and a growing fanbase, it’s easy to see why the viewership quickly recovered in 2022. The Call of Duty League had a peak viewership of over 275,000 concurrent viewers (the 439,775K was for a Spanish MW3 tourney). And now, in 2023, the viewership is already blasting the past out of the water — and it’s not even the finals yet.

CDL Major 1 Viewership — Back on Twitch

CDL viewership Major 1

According to Esports Charts, Stage 1 had a peak viewership of 159,455 and an average viewership of 112,276. It wasn’t the most epic start to a season but that’s often the way it goes since most teams are still working out the kinks and storylines are still developing. There was also no community broadcasting since Activision Blizzard didn’t allow it — more on that later.

The Florida Mutineers and OpTic Texas were the most-watched teams during this time, most likely because OpTic was the second-best team going into the current season.

Also worth noting, Major 1 marked the Call of Duty League’s return to Twitch after multiple years of exclusive broadcasts on Youtube. The change to YouTube was one of the reasons the OWL continued to struggle, so luckily, the CDL seems to have escaped that same fate.

CDL Major 2 Viewership — The Scump Bump

CDL Viewership Major 2

During the early days of 2023, Major 2 saw significant viewership growth from the Stage 1 Major. The peak viewership skyrocketed to nearly 302,000 fans. The average viewership was 153K, meaning it was still consistently higher than the previous Major.

The most-watched match was the loser’s semi-final clash between the LA Thieves and OpTic Texas. The 301,953 peak viewership made it the third-highest peak viewership in Call of Duty history. It was also the highest overall for a non-Championship event.

The massive growth in viewership is thanks to the addition of watch parties, including top CoD content creators like former pro, Seth “Scump” Abner, and FaZe streamer Thomas "ZooMaa" Paparatto. The return to Twitch and the addition of watch parties was proving to be huge for Call of Duty League.

CDL Viewership Major 3

The viewership climb continued into Major 3, breaking all previous viewership records with a peak viewership of 335,170. This made it's best match the most-watched Call of Duty League game in its short history.

The teams responsible for the record-breaking viewership were OpTic Texas and Atlanta FaZe during a match hosted at OpTic’s stadium in Arlington, Texas. This Major also held the record for overall hours watch at 5.5 million.

Like Major 2, the bump in viewership was a blend of an increased intensity as the season continued and the addition of watch parties hosted by Scump and other CoD favorites. Scump alone had 175,000 unique viewers.

CDL Major 4 Viewership — Bump in the Road

CDL Viewership 5

Sometimes there’s a bit of a snag and the Major 4 caught it. With a peak viewership of 277,136 fans, this was a 17.3% viewership decline from Major 3. A bit of a letdown after the record-breaking peak viewership in March, but the CDL is generally still on a promising path. In fact, average viewership actually increased from Major 2 — even if just a bit.

This time around, it was OpTic Texas and the LA Thieves in the Grand Finals that received the highest viewership of the Major. OpTic Texas is clearly a fan-favorite that can’t be ignored. Four of five of the most-viewed matches actually featured the Texas team, with a total of 1.7 million hours of watch time.

Scump and other Call of Duty influencers, streamers, and podcasters continued to host watch parties that helped Stage 4 keep from an even steeper decline.

CDL Match viewership

How Will Major 5 Perform?

The question now is, how will Major 5 do in terms of viewership? Will the Call of Duty League continue to see a decline, or will the last Major before Champs turn things around?

Overall, it’s looking pretty good for Stage 5. It’s the final Major of the season, meaning there’s a lot on the line for the top teams. Fans will want to tune in to see which squads come out on top and qualify for the next level of competition.

The qualifiers had 163,320 peak viewers. That’s already a bit more than the Major 4 qualifiers’ peak viewership, although it’s far, far less than in the leadup to Major 3. 

While the CDL has been back on YouTube since Major 4, Twitch has remained the streaming platform of choice. Scump was also the most watched and popular channel at the Call of Duty League 2023: Stage 5 Qualifiers and should drive even more viewership to the Toronto Major.

How to Watch the Call of Duty League

Viewers can watch the 2023 Call of Duty League through the Call of Duty Twitch and YouTube channels. If you are watching on Twitch, be sure to link your Activision and Twitch accounts to receive Twitch Drops during eligible events. The CDL will take place every Friday-Sunday over the course of four weeks.