After weeks of complaints from the North American League of Legends community, the LCS will be changing its broadcast times for the 2023 Spring Split, Riot Games announced today.
In an interview with Travis Gafford, Riot’s president of esports John Needham and global head of League esports Naz Aletaha revealed that for this coming season, the LCS will be starting games two hours later than originally planned. Instead, the league will be played at 4pm CT on Thursdays and Fridays, making it a much later and much more agreeable time for fans across the country.
Aletaha explained that these new changes were “optimized for a North American audience,” which she hopes will fit around the lives and schedules of a majority of the fans in the region. The team also wanted to ensure that the broadcast didn’t end too late for supporters in the central and eastern time zones, especially with around 70 percent of the NA audience sitting on the East Coast, according to Needham.
When the original 2pm CT start time was announced, there was a huge amount of negative feedback from fans and significant community members. Due to the early start time, for example, many fans would not be able to catch the live broadcast since they’d still be at work and school, which would plummet viewership numbers across the split.
Related: LCS could easily lose more than just its primetime slot after 2023 schedule changes
Additionally, worries began to grow around how this would stifle the competition’s popularity and what this would mean for the growth of League esports in the region. Since many younger viewers would be busy with school, homework, and extracurricular activities at the original broadcast time, they might not have been able to watch any games live, leading to less connection with possible future fans.
Needham also admitted that Riot hasn’t been doing too well with communicating with its fans, whether it was for the game itself or the professional side. The company has, however, recently hired a new social media lead for esports and also built a community team last year. He even jumped on the community perception of Riot putting the LCS to the wayside for other leagues and projects and firmly denied the rumors, saying that they’d never do anything to harm what is the “number two league in [Riot’s] ecosystem from a revenue perspective.”
“If there’s one thing I want to talk a lot about, [it’s] this whole narrative around not caring about the LCS—that just couldn’t be further from the truth,” Needham said. “League esports is, by far, the biggest esport on the planet, [and] the LCS is one of our more important leagues within that ecosystem. We’re not going to do anything that weakens or hurts the overall sport [or] the LCS.”
The 2023 LCS Spring Split is scheduled to begin on Jan. 26.