While the entire Sports Industry has faced major setbacks, the E-Sports category has not stopped gaining dollars even during the ongoing pandemic and subsequent lockdown.
A study by leading Marketing Intelligence Service Agency WARC finds that brand investment (advertising and sponsorship) in e-sports is set to rise 9.9% worldwide to $844m this year, though it is less than half the rate of growth recorded in 2019.
The majority of the amount, almost $615m is to be invested in the sponsorship of competitors or the tournaments itself. While $229m spent on spot ads during e-sports broadcasts.
WARC estimates that total brand investment will top $1bn by 2022!
It has been difficult to attract new audiences during the lockdown as traditional sports fans haven’t made the switch to virtual formats. Just 3% of adults watched e-sports content for the first time during this period.
Meanwhile, the existing audience has been further solidified
“The greatest proportion of new viewers was to be found in India at 11%, with the US and UK each recording rates of just 1%.” said the report.
The study further revealed that mobile gaming saw a huge spike during the lockdown with 2.9bn people (almost 71% of internet users, up from 63% in 2015) now play games on their personal smartphones, making mobiles the most popular gaming devices in history.
Streaming services like Twitch also observed hike in their viewership.
In the month of April alone, consumption of gaming content on Twitch rose to 63.8% increasing from the previous month amassing total 1.6bn cumulative hours on the platform which is more than double of Facebook Gaming, YouTube Gaming and defunct Mixer combined!
James McDonald, Managing Editor, WARC Data, and author of the research stated: “The gaming content world is evolving quickly. Streaming is the new prime time for much of Gen Z, and Mixer’s shuttering this month served only to highlight the stranglehold Twitch has on the market. Tencent may yet prove a challenger in the US with Trovo this year, but it has a great deal of catching up to do along with Facebook and YouTube.
“Competitive gaming is big business in Asia – where Tencent is already king – though traditional sports fans in the West are yet to be wooed, with existing audiences instead consolidating during lockdown.
“A great deal of merger and acquisition activity, especially around media rights within esports, is expected in the short term as investors vie for control of potential windfalls.”