The Numbers Game
One of the least palatable aspects about the recently completed World Championship match between Carlsen and Karjakin had been the almost-daily flow of mis-information regarding how many individuals were watching online at any given time. Depending on who was being quoted in the media, the numbers varied between several million to more than one billion. These numbers made a stark contrast to the actual number of views/hits recorded on YouTube related to Live-streaming during play. The differences were enormous: several orders of magnitude!
Indeed, it seems that for chess-promoters appearance is more important than accuracy. The match organizers, AGON, told Bloomberg that from online revenue alone (from paying spectactors) at one point in the match it had already pocketed some $15 million. Impossible to verify. AGON also told the NYTimes that some 10-million viewers followed the match thru their portal alone. Once more, YouTube hits on the videos that AGON uploaded during the match don’t come any where close to corroborate. Orders of magnitude difference…
How many REALLY watched online ?
I would suppose that Chess24 got the most viewers online, by far it appears. Svidler and gang did an awesome job! Even so, none of their YouTube videos got anywhere close to a million hits. In fact, the best day saw approximately 250,000 hits . Worse still, this number did NOT mean that 250k individuals watched!
To arrive at the real number of viewers, you have to first divide by a factor of 5 or 6 (the number of hours , as the coverage by Chess24 started when the game began and ended when the game finished). And even then, most viewers would have watched for only a few minutes and then disconnected; finally to come back several times during the course of the game. Many would have in fact come back up to 10 times or more…in any case, you would eventually find the real number for individual viewers, considerably less than 250k.
WorldChess (Agon’s official YouTube coverage) , by comparison, could only pull in a few thousand viewers on YouTube. Using the same math as for Chess24 above, well, you can realize that the results are not very impressive. Svidler and gang completely outclassed Polgar and gang!
I would suppose that the tie-breaks should have got the most coverage. given the element of DRAMA was at its highest. Even so, YouTube hits are not really any better than the usual day to day rounds seen before.
Where are all the chess players?
Your guess is as good as mine, but I think a good starting point is to realize that the online chess world is not a rainbow with a gold treasure at the end of it. For the typical chess player who wants to play some chess, it is wonderful thing, but for promoting chess events? Think again: chess promoters have probably got the online world all wrong!
Clearly stated, the truth probably is that not enough people are interested in watching chess on the internet…As for the millions of chess fans out there that promoters like to constantly remind us of , well–assuming they even exist in such plentitude– they have to work to make a living! They can’t spend hours watching grass grow…