22.5 million people watched MLG’s Columbus Pro Circuit online, more than the 2011 NFL draft.

Professional gaming may have had a hard time really getting traction in the West as opposed to, say, places like South Korea, but its inroads have been steady if slow.

Major League Gaming announced that it had recorded a record-breaking 22.5 million online streams of its recent Columbus, Ohio event, with viewers from 164 countries watching four streams over the three-day competition. That, by the way, is almost double the amount of people who watched the 2011 NFL draft – or rather, the amount of people who watched it online, anyway.

MLG compared its 22.5 million viewers with the 11.4 million viewers who watched the NFL draft online. But the NFL draft was also televised, wasn’t it? The numbers I found suggested that about six million people watched the draft, putting it at a combined total of 17.4 million for NFL vs. 22.5 million for MLB.

It’s a lot closer this way, but honestly, that still ain’t too shabby at all. For comparison, the NBA finals reportedly clocked in at an average 17.2 million viewers per game. MLG still comes out ahead here, and even though you could argue that these numbers are fudged thanks to multiple streams broadcasting at once, it has every right to be proud of its numbers.

Of course, comparing MLG’s streams to a traditional, major media event like the NBA finals is a bit off-kilter – the NFL draft, as a streaming event, is a much more equatable comparison. So fun with numbers aside, it’s certainly nothing to sneer at here.

According to MLG, 16,000 fans attended the event in person, and 1,300 competitors tried their luck. If you’re confident in your trigger fingers, feel free to give it a try in the Pro Circuit’s next events in Anaheim, CA (July 29-31), Raleigh, NC (August 26-28) and Orlando, FL (October 14-16) – whichever is closest to you.

MLG’s grand finale is in Providence, Rhode Island in November, which is probably the most interesting thing to happen in Providence in years.

Edit: Corrected an error regarding the NBA numbers.

Edit #2: According to Team Liquid, the 22.5m streams were only from 450k viewers. Still impressive, but not quite as impressive as some would like them to sound.


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