Competitive video gaming is a rapidly growing, multibillion-dollar industry, presenting new opportunities for marketers to reach and engage with fans worldwide. Esports ad revenues in the US are poised to surpass $200 million by next year, according to our first forecast on esports and gaming revenues.
We define esports as organized gaming competitions among professional players and teams. Digital ad revenues from esports in the US will grow 25% to $178.1 million this year. There are multiple revenue streams connected to esports, including advertising, sponsorships, media rights, ticket sales to live events and merchandising.
“Esports was once an under-the-radar activity for enthusiasts of multiplayer online games,” eMarketer principal analyst Paul Verna said. “Just a few years later, it’s a multimillion-dollar business in the US, with implications for game developers, players, leagues, teams, live venues, streaming platforms, TV networks, audiences and marketers.”
Audiences for esports are large and growing. This year, 30.3 million people in the US will watch an esports event at least once a month, up more than 18% over last year. We expect esports viewers to grow by more than 50% between now and 2023, reaching 46.2 million at that time.
Esports executives consistently cite YouTube and Twitch, which tend to garner younger audiences, as the leading platforms for esports viewing in the US.
“Esports fans have unique characteristics that make them more elusive but potentially more lucrative for marketers,” Verna said. “They are typically young, TV-averse millennials who have higher-than-average disposable income. They are open to marketing messages that are embedded in the esports experience, whether those are sponsorships, branded videos, in-game integrations, influencer-driven endorsements or even traditional ads.”
Esports age demographics vary by game, league and tournament, but millennials are among the most active members of the viewing population.