Esports awareness and viewership are on the rise—up 20 percent since 2013—according to Magid Associates, a media consulting and research company. Core esports viewership is increasing at an even higher rate, says Magid, and it shows no sign of stopping.
Core esports viewers are defined as those who watch streamed esports content at least once a week.
Mike Vorhaus, an executive of Magid Associates, attributes this “hot trend” to the wide use of competitive gaming in pop culture, but also to the fact that esports content doesn’t necessarily require one’s undivided attention.
“I think in terms of watching [esports] on a computer, phone or digital device, it’s good multitasking content,” Vorhaus told AListDaily. “You can watch someone playing League [of Legends] or Overwatch or whatever it is they’re playing and you can be doing something else.”
Multitasking could explain how the average core esports viewer finds time to watch 6.7 hours of live esports content in a typical week, and another six hours watching highlights or recordings of esports content.
Over the past six months, 52 percent of core esports viewers have watched more esports content than the previous six months, according to data made available to AListDaily. In addition, nearly half (46 percent) of those surveyed expect to spend even more time watching esports over the next six months.
Esports viewership skews 73 percent male, but Vorhaus sees more women getting involved.
“Hearthstone is well known [as a game] that women have engaged with. League of Legends is actually not that all-male either. I think these are games that are more story oriented, more fantasy oriented or somewhat more casual like Overwatch,” explained Vorhaus. “I think you’re finding those [games] played by women because they’re accessible, they’re not violent, their friends are playing it, etc.—and so it makes them somewhat interested in watching the professionals play these games on Twitch or over a stream. In all those cases, we see roughly a third of the fans are women.”
Overall, the most dedicated fans were found to be more educated and earn more money. According to the company’s findings, 65 percent of core esports viewers have graduated from college, compared to 44 percent of all esports viewers. Fifty-seven percent of core esports viewers also make more than $75,000 a year, compared to 49 percent of all esports viewers, Magid notes.
One thing about fans is consistent, however—over a quarter of viewers don’t want their viewing interrupted. Twenty-eight percent would prefer to purchase an ad-free subscription service rather than deal with an ad-supported platform.
“The data shows that people are willing to pay cash for this stuff,” said Vorhaus, recommending that marketers offer a subscription and/or an a la carte purchase of the stream or competition. Additionally, he said he would recommend putting time and effort into sponsored content that is creative. “Not just terrible, boring and intrusive 60-second TV ads.”
Vorhaus predicts that as the esports industry continues to grow, so will the value of its professional players.
“I don’t think it’s out of the question that three-to-five years from now, some of these [esports] teams could be selling for hundreds of millions of dollars,” he said. “I think the value of these teams is going to skyrocket [and] I think people are going to be surprised at how valuable these teams are.”