Esports is among the fastest-growing spectator sports globally. This growth in popularity of professional esports as a global sensation is sufficient evidence that the industry is becoming more mainstream. Esport players have become a major component of a gigantic industry worth billions of dollars.
Many esports streaming platforms enable you to access individual and tournament esports streams. The eSports industry has recorded tremendous growth over the last few years. Both its revenue and viewership have been growing consistently. The rise in viewership is the main reason why revenue has gone up.
In addition to viewers bringing in more revenue, brands have also been pouring a lot of money into the industry. They want to take advantage of the potential growth. The following are some of the factors fuelling the growth of esports streaming platforms.
- Growth in Viewership
The nature of esports has changed since the pandemic started. There are no clear boundaries between the sport, streaming, and influencer marketing. The lengthy lockdowns necessitated by the COVID-19 outbreak played a key role in the spike in viewership numbers across all esports streaming platforms.
Since they were required to spend most of their time indoors, more people resorted to streaming to pass time.
While the esports industry faced numerous difficulties during that period, it experienced significant growth. It also gained a foothold in previously dormant markets. But the industry was negatively affected by the cancellation of many in-person activities and the introduction of regional events to replace lucrative international events.
Since 2016, the number of esports viewers, both casual and enthusiasts, has increased exponentially. According to statistics, there was a 12% increase in that number between 2018 and 2019.
The total viewership number of 397 million was made up of around 197 million enthusiasts and about 200 million casual viewers. These numbers grew to more than 435 million (215 million enthusiasts and 220 million occasionally) in 2020.
And this number is expected to experience further growth across the globe, especially in established markets such as Western Europe and North America. Also, the prevalence of mobile streaming is spearheading the growth in less mature markets such as the Middle East, Asia, Africa, and Latin America.
- Growth in Revenue
After realizing the immense potential of esports, some major brands are already making huge marketing investments in it. This has led to impressive growth in revenue over the last few years.
Research shows a 30% growth in annual average revenue until 2018. Although the rate fell slightly in the following year to around 23%, the revenue increased to $957 million. However, the challenges posed by the pandemic led to revenues of 947 million in 2020. This was a 1.1% fall in YOY revenues. This fall is largely attributed to the restrictions on large gatherings at in-person events.
But 2021 was a favorable year for the esports streaming industry. The revenues swelled to more than $1.084 billion indicating a 14.5 % increase from the previous year. China accounted for more than a third of the revenue generated. Sponsorship deals saw a YOY growth of 11.6%, publisher fees 22.6%, digital media 50%, and publisher fees 22%.
Estimates indicate that this figure would rise to more than $1.6 billion in 2024 representing a CAGR (Compound Annual Growth Rate) of about 11% between 2019 and 2024. Although revenue from sponsorship deals is the backbone of esports revenue, ticket revenues have recovered from the shocks of the pandemic. Furthermore, esports is still diversifying its revenue sources which can only mean more income.
- Growth in Streaming Audience
There are many esports streaming platforms but the most popular ones in the United States and Western Europe are Twitch and YouTube Live. On the other hand, Panda TV, Huomao, Douyin, and Zhangi have the biggest share of the Chinese market.
The esports streaming audience grew from 593 million to 662 million between 2019 and 2020. Social distancing obligations and the lengthy lockdown periods are responsible for this 11.7% growth.
The number of viewers increased by 10% to more than 728 million in 2021. Estimates show that this figure will further grow to 830 million in 2024. That would be a compound annual growth rate of 9.2% between 2019 and 2024. And with China becoming a mature market, analysts expect its streaming audience will increase from 185 million to 214 million between 2020 and 2024.
In 2020, live broadcasts in Portuguese and Spanish experienced the highest growth. They are now the third and second most popular languages in esports streaming respectively after English. Portuguese streams account for 1.1 billion hours watched while Spanish streams account for 1.4 billion hours watched. This was a 189% and 369% growth respectively from the previous year.
- Growth in Esports Awareness
One of the primary reasons for the spike in esports streaming is that more people are increasingly becoming aware of it. Since 2015, there has been significant growth in the awareness of the esports sector. Back then, around 800,000 knew about it. However, this number changed dramatically to more than a billion people the next year.
The figure rose by several hundred in the following years, to reach 1.2 billion, 1.4 billion, and 1.8 billion in 2017, 2018, and 2019 respectively. By 2020, the number is projected to hit 2 billion with the Chinese market accounting for more than 530 million. However, more recent data about this has not been made public.
But what does this growth in awareness and viewership portend to brands in the esports industry? It largely means that they are presented with a new target channel for their marketing strategies.
It also means that they have to come up with new strategies to reach more people interested in esports streaming. If they use these strategies effectively through engaging channels such as social media, they can reach and sell their brands to these people.
Almost everyone owns an internet-enabled device. This has allowed more people to access esports streaming platforms from anywhere they are. This was impossible before due to location constraints. Esports are leveraging the convenience of mobile devices to create more awareness for the industry.