We started an e sports team last year at my high school where I was the Assistant Principal: Yucca Valley High School. It was really great seeing some of our kids who were not really a part of a sports team, or an extra curricular program on campus as a part of the e sports teams!
With more than 150 million fans worldwide, $300 million in global revenue and a predicted prize pool of over $80 million for all tournaments and competitions, you’d probably think these numbers refer to a traditional mainstream sport. However, these numbers come from a sport that noticed a significant spike and growth, making the very first steps just ten years ago. This sport has already surpassed the revenue of the music industry and presents a market opportunity that brands like Coca-Cola and Samsung are competing to sponsor.
We’re talking about eSports, known as competitive or professional gaming. This is a type of sport where professional players battle for the total prize pool. With a rapidly expanding global fan base and very organized business model, eSports has become the real deal- so real that players qualify for a type of visa that’s been reserved for professional athletes. How did eSports expand and become so big and vital niche market?
Origins and growth
Available data shows that the first video game competition was held on the 19th of October 1972. A group of students at Stanford University competed in a so-called “intergalactic” spacewar Olympics”. The prize was a one-year subscription to the famous Rolling Stone Magazine.
Experts and gaming analysts predict that the global monthly audience for esports now will reach 170 million people, which is larger than both the NHL and baseball. They estimate that the total online fanbase is over 3.6 billion people, with esports viewers representing just 5% of the online population, which suggests that there’s still a potential opportunity for growth.
By 2021, experts predict that the annual growth rate will be approximately 14%. They also expect that the number of casual viewers will grow up to 310 million. As you can see and compare, there has been a steady growth in esports viewership, and that trend will likely continue in the upcoming years. Streaming and viewing platforms like Twitch and YouTube also notice continuous growth in views because more people are interested and want to learn more about it.
What does this rise in views and fans mean for other markets? For the most part, they have a new channel to target and place their products. It also says they have a new, potential audience to reach and engage within the esports industry.
Since March 2020, it has been noticed a growing trend in digital video consumption. While sporting and live events were paused for a while, fans and sports betting turned to esports. Broadcasters, sports federation and game publishers began hosting global tournaments involving both professionals and celebrities to replace live sports and events. Some of them were directly streamed to a host of social platforms and cable tv networks, increasing the visibility of esports on mainstream video channels.
For example, the English Premier League created a virtual substitute for football fans by involving professional footballers. Live match streams included hosts and commentators to create a similar setup as if they were watching a typical Premier League play. The formats were simple and had a competitive element, ending up with over 1 million hours watched by fans.
Streaming platforms are also prevalent among players who stream their online casino gameplay. Thousands of viewers follow these influencers to connect, chat or just share their opinion about their experience regarding bonus points, free spins or design in general. Have a look at the latest selection of games and online casino bonuses from the best casino gaming providers.
Trends and future arrangements
Providing the much-needed in-house entertainment across the globe was a key role for esports and a global acceleration of an already fast-growing industry. Marketing specialists found that the overall awareness for esports doubled between the period of 2015 and 2019. The increased awareness brings growth in consumption, investment and sponsorships. Game tournaments such as Fortnite, League of Legends and DOTA break records every year and are hard to miss on social media.
Console updates also present significant calendar dates for gamers and tech lovers. Gaming lovers also keep an eye on equipment sponsorships in other product categories such as headsets and screens. The combination of the level of exposure with the large prizes at stake, this industry promises to keep the growing pace.
With the continual innovation and growth, the possibilities for this market are endless. With the ability to quickly adapt and sustain the growth rate even in disruptive times, it will continue to merge the barriers between the definitions of playing sports. With the popularity of the “geek expression”, gamers who influence the virtual space are eager to find a way to unleash and publicly promote their passion.