The eSports industry is having an incredible run so far. Everything points that way, starting from the viewership that is crossing millions and millions across the world to the growth that it is showing when it comes to earning money and the expansion that it is having worldwide. The year 2017 will continue to show the world that eSports are here to stay and they have no plan of leaving anytime soon. Before we delve deeper into analyses and dissect the numbers I can tell you that the growth of eSports can be considered a phenomenon, from small basements to large stadiums being packed with fans and having millions upon millions watching from home is surely a grandiose achievement made within just a couple of years, no other sport managed to do this.
eSports industry analysis
The industry is still a young and new compared to the well-established traditional sports that exist for decades now and have had generations and generations of fans. What is surprising for the eSports world is the fact that in just a few short years it managed to skyrocket the earnings from hundreds of dollars to tens of millions of dollars. Another interesting thing is that it suddenly created a platform for talented people of ages to enjoy playing and watching competitive games. Many professional gamers now earn millions of dollars each year just from their salaries without taking into account what they earn from their sponsors and from streaming. When it comes to streaming it’s worth mentioning that it is something that has made it possible for many people to make quite a comfortable living for themselves.
eSports industry growth
As we have already stated the growth is substantial and it’s constant. The great thing about the entire eSports industry is that new games are being created every day and that the growth will continue as long as people decide to play games professionally with this rate. Different sources, give different statistics when it comes to future growth. While all sides agree that the growth will be exponential, however they don’t agree on how big that growth will be. By 2020 the eSports industry worth will be more than a 1$ billion while some other sources claim that number will be $5 billion. The difference is big when we compare the two; however the growth is continuing to happen nonetheless. The people interested in eSports whether by watching or playing themselves professionally is increasing each year, it would be no surprise if the industry worth will be billions of dollars in the next years.
The stereotype that eSports shouldn’t be taken seriously and that only young men or kids play them for fun is already not being taken serious anymore; numbers are starting to state differently. According to Newzoo in 2014, 38 percent of eSports fans in America were women and 44 percent were parents, yes you read that correctly. That means that there are people who enjoy watching eSports just as much as people who enjoy watching regular sports. However eSports are enjoyed mostly by the younger generations, only 28 percent were older than 35.
The year 2017 might be the time when eSports are going to go mainstream. Blizzard, the largest computer-game publisher has announced that they have made a deal with Facebook to make it possible for players to stream on Facebook via Facebook Live. This move alone can be the trigger that will make it possible for eSports to get worldwide recognition.
In the UK a 24-hour eSports TV channel will start operating this year, making it possible to reach a larger audience, which means that regular fans don’t have to watch their favorite games in their phones or computers by streaming they can just watch them on TV now.
Another interesting storyline that is happening right now is the fact that some universities are considering the introduction of eSports scholarships. That could be a huge boost for many young and talented people that would like to pursue a career in gaming but are afraid to do so because the prospects of succeeding in having a successful and long-lasting career are still slim.
eSports growth 2017
While League of Legends has already established itself as the most massive online game being played, with around 100 million users a month and manages to generate around $740 million, Overwatch can become the archenemy that will dethrone League of Legends from that spot. Blizzard, the creator of Overwatch, wants to create the Overwatch League that will include teams from many regions such as Europe, China, Korea, North and South America and the South Pacific. This rivalry between these giants can have a very positive impact throughout the gaming world, an impact that can spark even the interest of people that have yet to learn about the existence of eSports. It is quite understandable that becoming a fan of eSports is almost impossible if you don’t play games yourself, which means that in order to increase the viewership, creators of the games have to continue creating games that are appealing to the average Joe that has no idea about the eSports world.
People are learning about eSports
According to Newzoo the awareness for eSports will reach and surpass the 1 billion mark in 2017. If you see the graph, in 2015 there were around 809 million people that were aware of eSports worldwide and if the projections become true by 2019 there will be more than 1.5 billion worldwide. In just 4 years we can see that the awareness will double up. The eSports viewership statistics have a long road to go in order to catch the primetime spots of the famous shows on TV but with the current trend that may change in a short few years. We head back to Twitch, the streaming platform;
Again, according to Newzoo, the average awareness of eSports among the 16 countries that it examined rose quite dramatically from year to year. In 2015 it was 53.7 percent while in 2016 it rose to 65.7 percent, even though eSports may be located to a handful of countries at the moment we can safely assume that this trend will change quite soon. It will no longer be just located in the Far East and the western countries, we may expect to see the Middle Eastern countries get more involved, and the African nations can start to become a relevant factor in the near future as well.
When it comes to the regions that have a well-established player base like Europe and North America, at the moment they are temporarily behind Asia in many measures. In 2016, the Asian market had around $328 million in value while North America had $275 million and Europe had $269 million.
The change will happen due to the large investments from many serious investors. We are already noticing the difference being made in the professional leagues in the respective regions. We are already seeing famous organizations like the Philadelphia 76ers and Schalke 04 invest in various teams.
eSports audience demographics
In this category we are again faced with a stereotype that only teenaged boys and guys that live in their parents’ basements watch eSports. This couldn’t be any further from the truth, as it turns out women make up 38 percent of the fanbase. Fifty-eight percent of the fans that are over 25 have a child of their own. While a part of the stereotype may be true, that the younger generations still make up a bulk of the fan base; sixty-five percent being between the ages of 18-34 and sixty percent between 25-39.
We may get surprised as well from the fact that many fans are high earners, forty-three percent have annual household income of $75,000; it doesn’t end here though, a third of the fans earn almost $100k per year.
It may come as a shock for many people to see that people that some people that earn a good living are fans of eSports in general. Mark Potts, who is the head of insights at Mindshare North America that made this report, had this to say:
“Forget the stereotypes-your typical eSports fan isn’t just someone playing World of Warcraft in his mother’s basement. The eSports community is varied and evolving, ranging across audiences of working professionals, parents, and more. It’s important for marketers to understand the nuances and differences in fans based on different eSports games, platforms, and experiences.”
The report found also found out that 49 percent of the fans surveyed said that they spend a large chunk of their free time around eSports. An interesting correlation between annual household income and the time spent around eSports can be seen in this report, the more a fan of eSports earns per year the more of his free time he spends it around eSports. Fifty-six percent of eSports fans that earn $50,000-99,000 per year said that they spend most of their free time around eSports and that number increases up to sixty-seven percent for those fans that earn more than $100,000.
The passion for games and new friendships
This report managed to shed light to many other details. 67 percent of the fans say that they have met someone through the gaming experience. If we talk exclusively about men that number increases up to 72 percent. From the eSports data we can see that the entire gaming experience is very social , 51 percent say that they like to watch eSports with friends or family and if we take into consideration only females that number increases to 58 percent.
For many fans of eSports the professional eSports players are on the same level as other professional athletes, 53 percent to be more exact. While 71 percent of the players say that watching professional games makes them better players in the games that they play. It’s no surprise that many players think highly of professional eSports players, when we take into account the time they spend every day honing their craft just so that they can get better.
eSports viewership vs sports
The viewership of eSports is a very positive indicator for the exciting future that awaits eSports in general. For this reason many successful investors have decided to invest in eSports. Seeing the level of success increasing each year, they have bought shares in some of the eSports teams or bought teams entirely.
The traditional eSports may still hold the crown when it comes to the numbers in total viewers each year due to the fact that sports like Basketball for example have a long season compared to eSports leagues. A team in NBA plays 82 regular games without counting the play-offs. However, the math changes when we start looking at the numbers differently things change. If we look at individual games, eSports tend to have a better viewership.
The 2015-16 NBA finals series were a thriller, they delivered emotion throughout the seven games. The last ten minutes of game seven managed to get 44.5 million viewers, while the finals of the League of Legends World Championship managed to get no less than 43 million viewers. The NBA finals were an absolute thriller and it is no surprise that they got these mind-blowing numbers and when we think that the difference between these two finals is just 1.5 million, we can’t help but get amazed. From here on, we can see that eSports trends are changing the sports industry whether many people like it or not. When we also think of the investments being made each year to improve the quality of the eSports industry we can freely expect that these numbers will increase steadily. The only thing that needs to be done by the organizers of many large eSports tournaments is to create more leagues and tournaments so that the fans can get to enjoy more games throughout the year because what we’re seeing from the numbers so far, fans just can’t get enough of eSports.