Esports’ rising fan base and revenues indicate that the industry is here to stay. In research released earlier this month by SuperData Research, esports revenues worldwide were forecast to reach $612 million this year.
Asia, the original home to esports, was expected to maintain its hold over the global market at $374 million in revenues, thanks largely to South Korea and China. Meanwhile, the source expected North America and Europe to drive growth, with respective sales of $143 million and $72 million this year.
In all, SuperData estimated that the number of esports viewers would reach 134 million globally this year. Other figures released by Newzoo in December 2014 put the number of esports enthusiasts, or active viewers and participants, at 89.0 million last year, and expected this to soar to 145.0 million by 2017.
The growing audience has spurred several big video industry players to get on board. YouTube is preparing to launch a new live streaming platform with a focus on esports and gaming. This follows Google’s failed attempt to buy Twitch.tv, later acquired by Amazon.com and where almost half of esports viewers stream gaming content, according to SuperData. Even more, ESPN2 recently aired its first televised esports tournament (to much confusion among viewers).
As viewer numbers and revenues maintain steady growth, esports present brands with another marketing opportunity. And many are already buying in, as SuperData estimated that esports corporate sponsorship sales would total $111.1 million this year in North America, or 81% of all revenues expected in the region.