The widespread reach of esports is undeniable, but just how big is it? Newzoo decided to find out—focusing on popular PC titles like League of Legends, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO) and Dota 2. The analyst firm discovered that when marketing through esports, not all fans are the same . . . and neither are the players.
On a global scale, 191 million consumers will watch esports frequently in 2017, Newzoo reported, with another 194 million tuning in occasionally. Gamers in general boost the numbers to 2.2 billion worldwide across all platforms. Just as a sports fan might prefer football to golf or his/her hometown team to another, esports fans tend to gravitate toward specific games—especially if they play that game, too.
League of Legends has the largest group of exclusive players at 32 percent, compared to CS: GO and Dota 2 at 24 and 13 percent, respectively. Interestingly, these figures are closely matched by exclusive viewers—37 percent (League of Legends), 25 percent (CS: GO) and eight percent (Dota 2). Eight percent of respondents stated they had played or viewed esports content from all three games within the last previous three months.
Across the franchises, League of Legends and CS:GO show the most overlap in viewers. Newzoo attributes the popularity of League of Legends to being a MOBA that is easier to learn and understand than Dota 2.
Armchair Gamers Are Loyal Gamers
Alongside its findings, Newzoo noted that while many consumers no longer have the time or desire to play these popular games themselves, esports creates a type of “lean-back” consumption that keeps fans coming back for more.
“Esports creates a sticky layer around franchises that keeps fans engaged after they stop playing temporarily or for good with the goal of re-engaging fans with the game,” Newzoo said. “Even if there is no re-engagement, the size of this group of consumers justifies the implementation of advertising-driven business models by publishers and organizers.”
Watch Out For Overwatch
Newzoo’s analysis focuses mainly on PC but also includes a comparison with multi-platform games like Overwatch and Hearthstone. The figures are aggregated across 10 Western locations—US, Canada, Germany, UK, France, Italy, Spain, Netherlands, Belgium and Sweden.
In terms of global reach, Overwatch comes in third place in North America and Western Europe. While the game boasts a large player base on both console and PC, a “sizable” group of people watch Overwatch esports exclusively, Newzoo reported.
IEM Gyeonggi’s Overwatch tournament finals attracted close to 100,000 peak concurrent viewers on Twitch and the official Overwatch League announcement has over 19 million views on YouTube. The city-based franchise approach presented by Activision/Blizzard seems to have materialized, Newzoo observed, as it’s rumored that the New England Patriots and Miami Dolphins are among the first traditional sports teams to claim a spot in the Overwatch League.