The eSports industry has seen tremendous growth over the years both in terms of viewership and revenue. The increasing viewership is what mainly contributed to the revenue growth – and it’s not just because those viewers are generating revenue. Brands, seeing the potential of reaching a large and engaged audience, investing eSports growth both directly and indirectly. That’s what has mainly contributed to the rapid revenue growth in the industry.

eSports is also experiencing growth in several other aspects, with a lot of them being interrelated in one way or another. In this post, you will learn more about just how much the eSports industry is growing so you can understand how to leverage it.

eSports Viewership is Growing

Since 2016, there has been a significant increase in eSports viewers – both occasional viewers and enthusiasts i.e. viewers who watch it regularly. Between 2016 and 2017, there was a 19.3% increase year over year. The 2017, there were 192 million casual viewers and 143 million enthusiasts, making the total audience 335 million.

In 2018, the year-over-year growth rate had slightly dropped at 13.8% although that’s still a sizeable increase. In 2018, there were 215 million occasional viewers and 165 million enthusiasts. So the total audience size grew to 380 million.

By 2021 Newzcoo portal that the annual growth rate will be approximately 14%. They also predict that the number of casual viewers will grow to 307 million. And that there will be 250 million eSports enthusiasts, making the total audience 557 million.

So you can see that there has been steady growth in eSports viewership and the trend is likely to continue in the coming years. The increase isn’t just limited to dedicated eSports fans; there seems to also be an increase in people who are viewing it casually. This is likely a result of increasing awareness about eSports and ease of access to the internet.

Besides, viewing platforms like Twitch and YouTube also see growth in their users. That’s another contributing factor to eSports audience growth. You will learn more about these factors later on in this post.

eSports Awareness is Increasing

One of the main reasons why there has been growth in eSports viewership is because more people are learning about it. There has been a tremendous rise in awareness of the eSports industry since 2015. Back then, there were slightly more than 800,000 people who had heard about it. These numbers soon changed, and by the next year, more than a billion people had learnt about eSports.

These numbers continued to increase in the following years, by a few hundred thousand annually. By 2017, eSports has risen  to 1.28 billion, and it reached 1.43 billion by 2018. In 2019, an estimated 1.57 billion people are likely to learn about it. This means that viewership will likely increase as well and with that, the industry will further see revenue growth.

The rise of Platforms Offering Live eSports Coverage

It’s no surprise that more people are watching eSports videos and events considering how online platforms are simplifying eSports content consumption. eSports streamers use these platforms to broadcast live coverage of events and their own gameplay. This makes it easier for fans to participate in their favourite events and engage with their favourite eSports athletes.

So you can see an increase in the number of viewers and broadcasters on these platforms as well. Although not all the viewers and broadcasters on these platforms are relevant to the eSports industry, this increase still likely affects the industry as well.

Twitch and YouTube lead the race with 1.13 million active streamers and 432,000 active streamers per quarter respectively, according to a stream labs analysis. Twitch has also seen a steady increase in the number of people who view live streams through the platform. While there were about 591,809 average concurrent viewers in 2016, the number is expected to increase to 1.28 million in 2019 according to Twitch Tracker.

People are Spending More Time Watching eSports

One of the most drastic differences over the years is in the amount of time spent watching eSports videos. As more people are consuming eSports content, the hours spent watching the video is also increasing every year. In 2012, people were spending only about 1.3 billion hours watching these videos.

This changed slightly and increased to 2.4 billion hours in 2013. By 2018, the increase was drastic as the number of viewers had also grown to 380 million. Last year, people watched 6.6 billion hours of eSports videos worldwide. This means that the hours spent watching eSports videos increased by about 1 billion hours each year.

Since consumers spend so much time on eSports, this means that brands need to meet them where they’re at by adopting eSports marketing. This could be through ads, reviews, product positioning, influencer marketing, and more.

eSports Revenue Growth and How Brands are Contributing to It

Realising the potential of tapping into the eSports market, some brands have already made significant investments into eSports marketing. So the industry saw an impressive increase in revenue in the past years.

According to the previously cited Newzoo analysis, there has been an average revenue increase of more than 30% annually. And a large portion of it resulted from brand contributions. In 2016, the total eSports revenue was $493 million, out of which $350 million came from brand investments. This increased by 33% year over year in 2017, where the total revenue was $655 million, and brand investments contributed to $468 million of this.

In 2018, the average year-on-year increase in total revenue was at an impressive 38.2%. The eSports industry made a total of $906 million in revenue. Out of this, $694 million came from brand investments – both direct and indirect. That’s a 48% increase in brand investment from the previous year. Newzoo predicts that by 2021, eSports will generate more than $1.6 billion in total revenue with $1.3 billion coming from brand investments.

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