Electronic sports or eSports has moved from being a virtual entertainment into the mainstream sports and gambling industry. This industry weighs its worth in billions today. The reputed brands and tech giants are also foraying into this space, such as Google and Amazon.
Hence, the future of this industry is bright. However, it is interesting to compare eSports to traditional sports. In such a comparison, eSports has considerable differences compared to traditional sports. There are certain parameters in which the comparisons can be made, especially in terms of revenue, market potential, and audience size.
There are interesting facts that emerge about people watching eSports:
- The study of a technology consulting firm shows that 250 million people watch different forms of eSports.
- It is said that 72000 viewers watch competitions, and eSports players have millions in followers; they also net about $30,000 per month when it comes to streaming revenue.
- Any eSports final event is watched by 70 million viewers, which is even higher than people watching baseball, soccer, or hockey finals.
- Projections suggest that eSports will soon have more viewership than the final sports league events such as the NFL.
eSports has certain advantages when it comes to getting viewership or reachability. For instance, eSports is not confined to any culture or region. There is more of a global appeal for which billions are building up their viewership. This is akin to casino gaming, where more and more enjoy gambling online on popular games like 20p Roulette.
Among the several streaming services available, Twitch is one of them that is owned by Amazon. It is a platform for social videos and a well-known community that gamers frequent. Most content creators upload their videos and promote the same through this platform. It also has live streaming services that will expand in the near future.
Live sports events, in comparison, still hold strong, especially when it comes to events like NFL, NBA, and others. For instance, NBA finals have about 32 million viewers, whereas NFL Super Bowl has about 124 million. Even NHL Stanley Cup or the MLB World Series events have over 11 million and more viewers. Monetization aspects of these major leagues still remain higher than eSports events, but the latter is catching up.
As per audience demographics, eSports started off as competitions on electronic or digital systems that video gamers at a professional level engaged in. The first competition dates back to the year 1972. Since then, the audience has expanded, especially in the age segment 16 to 24-year-old. The population of viewership has gone up about 60% more than what it was in 2017. It is also expected to grow. Global audience growth is expected to be 276 million by the year 2022. Among the eSports tournaments, League of Legends is the biggest and boasts of highest viewership.
With more established live streaming platforms joining in, eSports tournaments are gaining popularity. Amazon has acquired Twitch allows them to tap into this growing audience base who are eSports enthusiasts. The acquisition was in 2014, and since then, average viewers have become about 15 million. This is about double the viewership that eSports had in 2014. It is also half of what YouTube has as viewership on a daily basis. Google had also pitched for Twitch in the bidding of the acquisition. Though they lost out, they have started a cloud gaming platform called Google Stadia. This will also be wooing live streamers who can use YouTube and help increase viewership here instead of other competitor platforms.
The revenue earning is still higher for the main traditional sports events and tournaments. However, the streaming industry for eSports continues to grow steadily. The industry reached $10 billion by 2018 and $13.1 billion by 2019. Streamers are competing with each other for subscribers and advertisers, and they are getting more of the bigger brands to come in and act as advertisers and sponsors. eSports is expected to triple its revenue by 2022. It helps create a foundation that is an ecosystem of opportunities. These include game development, live streaming, brand investments, and player fan base. Brand investments are about 82%, which is the main source of revenue.
However, unlike traditional sports tournaments where physical attendance is usually considered, in the case of eSports there is a gap whereby monetization is under index as per the audience size that exists. It is hoped that there would be closing off this gap soon, however.
The traditional sports events and tournaments do continue in the usual forms and also take advantage of digital live streaming and fan bases. For eSports, however, it is an entirely online experience that needs to be monetized more effectively. It is expected that by 2022 it would reach the level to be considered as a medal event and be featured in Asian Games. That would pave the way for such tournaments to be part of the Olympics as well.
The big leagues in eSports are definitely serious competitions today. There is a worldwide appeal across a large fan base, and revenues are in billions of dollars. And that is only of an industry that is in a nascent stage. Debates, however, are not between traditional and electronic sports. The shift is more about a culture that is moving towards virtual events. The ease and convenience of attending virtual or digitized events, tournaments, or competitions are much greater than physical participation. That is how the move is being seen. With digital or live streaming platforms, there are ways to capture more audience and viewership. However, at the same time, it needs to be monetized well to capture effective revenues for such events.
The appeal of traditional games and sports events will always remain, especially for sportsmen, professional players, and their fan base. The eSports events are a popular and growing entertainment of choice, as well as a way for people to participate in virtual games and competitions. Today both complement each other to provide a more extensive and varied choice in terms of engaging and activity-based programs and entertainment.
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