Seven months have passed since the first installment of Smash Ultimate Summit, and this time around, the tournament was even stronger. The players featured back in March got even better at their game, the newer talent at their first Summit proved worthy of the stage, and the tournament as a whole felt more polished, fulfilling, and definitely hype.
But you’d never know it if you looked at the ratings and the prize money involved.
Despite putting out an arguably better product courtesy of a highly competitive tournament, this iteration Ultimate Summit took significant hits in the viewership and prize money departments compared to March’s event.
The first Ultimate Summit featured a total prize pool of $51,917, the highest pool for any Smash Ultimate tournament at the time. However, for this past weekend’s event, the prize money on the table shrank to $43,998, resulting in a 15.25% decrease since the first Ultimate Summit. And while a prize pool of nearly $45,000 is nothing to scoff at – especially for a Smash tournament – a downward trend of 15% is something to keep an eye on for sure.
However, the number that should really concern Smash fans is the drastic drop in viewership between the two tournaments. Smash Ultimate Summit 2 posted significantly worse numbers than its predecessor in the categories of peak viewership, average viewers, and total hours watched, despite being on the air for 12 more hours.
Peak viewership numbers for this Summit were down 35.49% since March, a decrease of about 30,000 viewers. In terms of total hours watched, Ultimate Summit 2 brought in 500,000 less total hours of viewership than this year’s earlier tournament, a decrease of 34.72%. However, the most staggering (and perhaps most important) hit that Summit took this second time around came in the average viewers category, as the tournament was only watched, on average, by 20,444 viewers at any given time. For reference, the first Ultimate Summit kept a steady average of 40,905 viewers engaged throughout the course of the tournament. For those of you doing your own math: that’s a 50% drop in average viewership.
While these significant drop-offs are adverse to an uptick in quality of the tournament, it’s still puzzling as to why Summit, the most well-organized, intriguing, and well-curated event of the year, is experiencing significant hits in viewership.
Perhaps the fact that the tournament is bi-annual might have something to do with its decrease in popularity. It’s easy to think of Summit as the “All-Star Game” of Smash. The game’s biggest stars come to compete in a tournament like no other, all while keeping the spirit of competition intact. Where else can you see a matchup featuring Gavin “Tweek” Dempsey and Leonardo “Mkleo” Lopez in the first round of bracket? Maybe hosting an event like this twice a year takes away that “awe” factor that many fans will find in tourneys like these.
It’s obvious that Summit is unparalleled in terms of quality, but are the organizers, Beyond the Summit, losing out on potential hype and potential profits by holding the tournament twice a year? Would Summit really be a stronger event if it only happened once every 12 months instead of sporadically throughout the year?
We may find out next year as Smash Ultimate Summit 3 is scheduled for June 11-June 14. By holding the third Summit so late in the year, it might be difficult to see two installments of the tournament in the same calendar year. Regardless, it’s going to be intriguing to see how the future of Summit plays out. The tournament most definitely sets the bar in the Smash community.
Photo Credit: Nintendo, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, Beyond the Summit