eSports update: young people now spend more time watching others play video games than they do watching professional sport
The headline says it all: today’s youth is more invested in watching gamers battle it out online than watching billion-dollar athletic franchises Manchester United or the Dallas Cowboys take on competitors in the real world. That’s an incredible finding, given the relative youth of eSports and the huge popularity of traditional sports – but it’s true nonetheless. Assuming this trend continues, we may be witnessing a passing of the torch from offline sporting leagues to their online equivalents.
eSports has grown faster than experts’ most optimistic forecasts
In 2015, market-leading eSports analyst and forecaster NewZoo released a report which pegged revenue from eSports growing to $0.5 billion by 2017. But it also wanted to play the speculation card: if the stars aligned just right, NewZoo claimed, eSports could be worth a whopping $1.1 billion by 2017. In fact, according to PC Gamer (“the global authority” on PC gaming), eSports was worth $1.5 billion that year. In other words, eSports grew about a third faster than the most optimistic forecast from the most specialised forecaster to 2017. eSports is not only living up to the hype – it’s vastly outperforming it.
Researchers at Limelight recently polled 3,000 young consumers (ages 18 – 25) from France, Germany, Japan, South Korea, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Respondents said they watch an average of 3 hours and 25 minutes each week watching other people play video games. That’s almost a full hour more than the 2 hours and 33 minutes they spent watching traditional sports every week.
Limelight’s senior vice president of operations, Dan Carney, made the following comment over the report: “People aren't just playing video games anymore, they want to watch gamers play. Just look at overnight sensation Fortnite, with YouTube reporting a record-high livestream viewership at 1.1 million simultaneous viewers. To keep pace with the growing demand, it's critical that esports-focused businesses ensure content is accessible and provides the best possible performance to keep gamers engagedWe know speedy performance and fast downloads are critical factors in online gaming, and the same goes for platforms such as YouTube and Twitch with esports streams. Rebuffering and lag times are unacceptable in the world of online gaming and esports.”
So, to anyone that remains a eSports sceptic, take note: monetisation might not have caught up yet, but the demand, technology, and incentives for eSports to disrupt modern entertainment are already all lined up.
Dominion holds a number of stocks related to the eSports trend in its Global Trends Ecommerce Fund.
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