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insight & trends
9 July 2020

why you should care about esports; the next era in marketing.

Wait, what is eSports? eSports is competitive gaming! 

Over the past five years, eSports has progressed from being a niche gaming subculture to a growing cultural phenomenon. The industry is attracting millions of online viewers per month via livestreaming sites like Twitch and YouTube, according to marketing analytics site ESports Charts.

Here are a few things you need to know about eSports and its marketing potential:

eSports is not just a trend, it is here to stay
From ESPN launching a new vertical for specific eSports coverage to Overwatch being the first franchised gaming league, the sports industry is rapidly changing right before our eyes. The eSports industry is projected to reach at least 557 million viewers by 2020 and easily generate over $1.4 billion in revenue. As eSports investors and game creators break new ground, keep an eye out for more ways fans can experience their favourite eSports games as pop-ups, sports bars, eSports arenas and casual eSports watch parties become more common.


The audience is deeply engaged
The truth is that marketing is a highly saturated place and if you can reach your desired audience with a digital ad placement – the drop off is high and fast, whether you are talking about seconds watched or time spent on a site. According to Josh Chapman from Toptal, fans are deeply engaged “averaging 100 minutes per session spectating. Interestingly, only about half of viewers actually play the video game they are watching. Furthermore, 60% of eSports fans are willing to travel to see their favourite games, tournaments, and players.”

eSports is complex and not a one-game-fits-all system
Unlike traditional major league sports where athletes play a single type of game, eSports athletes are scattered across a variety of game types that each comes with its own nuances and audience types. It’s important to know that the term ‘eSports’ encapsulates every professionally played games from mobile games that typically attract a younger audience to first-person shooter games that draw in a more male adult-skewed audience.

eSports is a worldwide entertainment phenomenon experiencing explosive growth
While the epicentre of eSports started in South Korea and across Asia, in the past 15+ years, it has quickly spread across the world. Industry experts predict global eSports revenues to hit $905 million in 2018 (last available figures), an incredible 36% increase from 2017’s $655 million.
With an annual growth rate of 8.2% from 2016 to 2020, the eSports industry is gaining ground across the globe with Asia, North America, and Western Europe charging ahead by capturing 85% of the global eSports audience.

eSports is leading the world's charge towards modernised, live-streamed entertainment
The allure of eSports is its ability to connect the audience to the eSports players, streamers and other fans in the community in real-time, all the time. With the likes of Twitch and other platforms to better support players and develop their fan communities, audiences are actively engaged for long periods of time (averaging 100 minutes per spectating session).

The state of eSports advertising 
While your typical major players (like Coca-Cola and McDonald’s) have been eager to jump on the eSports bandwagon, the lion’s share of video game streaming advertising goes to gaming-related brands. This is primarily due to the preferences of eSports fans — Digiday reports that 70% of fans preferred promotions from gaming brands. 

According to Josh Chapman from Toptal, “The largest driver of revenue for the sector is sponsorships (38%). Sponsorship is expected to grow to $655 million by 2020, especially as new brands (particularly lifestyle brands) enter the industry in coming years.”
Toptal continues to show the potential for advertisers with financial expert Josh Chapman adding “Right now, advertising across eSports’ many platforms remains much cheaper than doing so on more traditional sports. If the eSports viewership and influence continues to expand, exposure to this fan base will get more expensive. Comprising 22% of the industry right now, advertising is one of the largest streams and is expected to grow to $224 million by 2020.”
Within the next few years or even sooner we will see advertisers jump into eSports but right now there is a massive opportunity to invest in this channel.
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