‘ELEAGUE Super Punch’ Finds Early Success Building Core Gaming Audience

    • TBS’s May 8 episode of “Super Punch” reached a new high in average household viewership.
    • Turner Sports, however, still faces legacy media stigma with some viewers

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Twitch and Turner Sports aired the first episodes of the studio show “ELEAGUE Super Punch” in February, about one month before the shut down of local economies due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

Approximately three months into Super Punch’s existence, which focuses on big moments in the gaming industry and streaming culture, the show has seen steady growth in viewership and engagement on TBS and Twitch.

According to Nielsen Media Research data cited by ELEAGUE, Turner Sports’ esports vertical, Super Punch outperformed all other esports programming across cable television for the 18-49 viewership demographic through April 17. The show’s digital audience also grew 20% in monthly hours watched and viewership on Twitch over its first two months.

Super Punch episodes air nightly, Monday through Thursday on the streaming platform while linear episodes are broadcast on TBS on Friday nights. Show production has migrated to remote telecasts.

“Over the last few months, our Super Punch production team has been able to sustain the energy of the show, even as they all remain safely at home,” Callum Hanlon, executive producer of Super Punch, said. “The hosts’ chemistry, the team’s dedication, and the loyal viewers have turned Super Punch into a welcome home for gaming content, giving gamers a place to discuss the latest cultural moments happening across the industry.”

READ MORE: Gaming Culture Content Drives Esports Growth

Super Punch took a planned sabbatical in April before returning May 4, having already experienced work from home operations beforehand. While in-studio guests and comedic segments featuring props have largely been put on hold, live gameplay is one example of a Super Punch staple that has transitioned well to remote broadcasts.

“It was a happy coincidence that we already had the hiatus set up. Over the break, there was a lot of stuff done behind the scenes to streamline remote shows,” Kelly Nugent, one of the show’s four hosts, said. “We’re also lucky that all of us know how to stream and have setups already.”

TBS’s May 8 return episode of Super Punch reached a new high in average household viewership, Turner Sports said. The company did not disclose specific viewership figures for telecasts. However, Nielsen data indicates Super Punch reached 210,000 viewers for the episode.

Super Punch has also witnessed a double-digit increase in total viewers versus other ELEAGUE television programming this year, including highlight and documentary-style content related to titles such as EA Sports FIFA. 

“It’s obviously a big difference because we aren’t on a set, but we’re still able to get a lot of the same type of information out there as we talk about Twitch culture, streaming, and gaming,” J.D. Witherspoon, another show host, said. 

Super Punch also averages hundreds of views on Twitch nightly and has produced more than 500,000 video views across social media to date. 

Engagement, particularly on Twitch, has spiked with more families quarantined at home, according to Ify Nwadiwe, who works primarily on the online telecasts. Twitch has direct chat functionality embedded into its site for fans to converse with streamers live.

“I feel obligated 100% of the time to bring people into the experience,” he said. “It’s what Twitch is. It’s a two-way street, and we’d be disingenuous to the platform to make something that didn’t directly involve viewers.”

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Hosts acknowledged that Super Punch has established itself as a go-to destination for gaming fans, but also admitted it would take time to build a rapport with Twitch’s die-hard streaming community by being associated with a legacy media brand. 

“Any time a large company tries to break into video games or Twitch, there is a sneaky suspicion that this giant company is coming here to maybe ruin something,” Alex Corea, Twitch content creator and host of Super Punch, said. “You have to slowly earn the trust of an entrenched audience like that. There were people who immediately wrote us off and they came back two weeks later. That’s when I know we have them.”