Wait, what is eSports? eSports is competitive gaming!
Over the past five years, eSports has progressed from being a niche gaming subculture to a growing cultural phenomenon. The industry is attracting millions of online viewers per month via livestreaming sites like Twitch and YouTube, according to marketing analytics site ESports Charts.
Here are 5 quick things to know about eSports:
ESports is not just a trend, it is here to stay
From ESPN launching a new vertical for specific eSports coverage to Overwatch being the first franchised gaming league, the sports industry is rapidly changing right before our eyes. The eSports industry is projected to reach at least 557 million viewers by 2020 and easily generate over $1.4 billion in revenue. As eSports investors and game creators break new ground, keep an eye out for more ways fans can experience their favourite eSports games as pop-ups, sports bars, eSports arenas and casual eSports watch parties become more common.
ESports is complex and not a one-game-fits-all system
Unlike traditional major league sports where athletes play a single type of game, eSports athletes are scattered across a variety of game types that each comes with its own nuances and audience types. It’s important to know that the term ‘eSports’ encapsulates every professionally played game from mobile games that typically attract a younger audience to first-person shooter games that draw in a more male adult-skewed audience.
ESports is a worldwide entertainment phenomenon experiencing explosive growth
While the epicentre of eSports started in South Korea and across Asia, in the past 15+ years, it has quickly spread across the world. Industry experts predict global eSports revenues to hit $905 million in 2018 (last available figures) , an incredible 36% increase from 2017’s $655 million.
With an annual growth rate of 8.2% from 2016 to 2020, the eSports industry is gaining ground across the globe with Asia, North America, and Western Europe charging ahead by capturing 85% of the global eSports audience. Likewise, the estimated 13.5% YOY audience growth is attributed to the improvement of IT infrastructure in Latin America and the Middle East, game franchises, and an influx of young viewers around the world who view eSports as a valid entertainment medium. As Asia maintains its stronghold with the biggest gaming audience, franchising and live events have placed North America as the top revenue generating market, set to reach an impressive $345 million in 2018.
ESports is leading the world’s charge towards modernised, live-streamed entertainment
The allure of eSports is its ability to connect the audience to the eSports players, streamers and other fans in the community in real-time, all the time. With the likes of Twitch and other platforms to better support players and develop their fan communities, audiences are actively engaged for long periods of time (averaging 100 minutes per spectating session).
The state of esports advertising
While your typical major players (like Coca-Cola and McDonald’s) have been eager to jump on the eSports bandwagon, the lion’s share of video game streaming advertising goes to gaming-related brands. This is primarily due to the preferences of eSports fans — Digiday reports that 70% of fans preferred promotions from gaming brands.
A large portion of eSports advertising is in sponsorships. According to PMG, eSports saw over 600 sponsorship deals between 2016 and 2017. In 2018, eSports revenue totaled $906 million — with 40% of that revenue originating from sponsorships. Platforms and networks like HelloGamers were even founded with eSports sponsorships in mind.
Another 19% of 2018 eSports revenue originated from advertising in other forms — still a relatively new way to spend nearly $175 million on advertising. And that number will most likely continue to rise.