Many factors are contributing the growth of esports. Esports currently offers prizes larger than traditional sports competition prize pools. An overview of six key factors driving the growth of viewership and participation in esports follows.
Streamed competitions involving leagues
- Just as with traditional sports, fans have viewing parties with their friends.
- The streamed matches include pre-game interviews, opening ceremonies with pop star performances, statistical breakdowns, and more.
- Leagues designed around games such as League of Legends and the Overwatch League draw fans, as well as leagues created by gaming companies such as Epic Games and OG.
Following / Watching Professional Players Worldwide
- Professional players are gaining recognition for their skills and abilities, and this has led to fans becoming more interested in individual players.
- Players are becoming celebrities just as traditional sports players have been for years. Fans are not only following their career but becoming invested in their favorite players by buying merchandise associated with the player and watching more of their games.
Live Events & Purpose Built Esports Venues
- Fans can meet each other at esports venues. This has led to large communities of esport fans that enjoy meetups and hanging out with their community as well as the players.
- These venues increase revenues through ticket sales along with merchandise and food and drink sales.
- Fans buying tickets and merchandise account for $96 million in revenue worldwide in 2018.
- With only an internet connection needed, Twitch makes it easy for a viewer to watch esports.
- It is anticipated that the current number (300 million viewers) on Twitch will double to 600 million esports viewers during 2019.
- There are educational courses and degrees dedicated to esports. They include gaming degrees, as well as supporting the business side of the industry around esports.
- These training programs are driving the growth of esports.
Investments, Endorsements, and Sponsorships
- Investors are backing esports as the future of sports entertainment. This makes being an esport player a very lucrative career.
- The industry is estimated to surpass $1 billion in revenue in 2019 and 2020.
- Participants of esports can win a prize of $25 million in winnings when sponsorships and appearance fees are included.
- Esports has the highest amount of prize money ($24.7 million) in the world of sports. Golf’s Master’s is $11 million, and the National Basketball Association’s prize pool is $13 million.
- The International Olympic Committee is hosting an esports forum in France to consider future engagement between esports and the Olympic Movement.
We have researched a variety of articles and publications to get a full picture of the current state of esports and what is driving the growth of the industry. Conveniently, several articles highlighted key growth factors. We utilized these articles by considering the trends that are driving participation and viewership for esports. Additional research was conducted on each of the key growth factors chosen to provide a well-rounded view of the industry and what is driving its growth.
Many of the key factors above cross over between the growth of viewership and participation in esports. We have separated the key factors into groups; however, some overlapping of the categories is unavoidable.