It’s no secret that eSports has been growing rapidly in the last few years, propelled by free-to-play games like League of Legends and World of Tanks along with the spread of streaming game videos. Research firms Newzoo and SuperData have joined forces on a new free report, Sizing and Profiling eSports’ Popularity {link no longer active}, that provides some detailed numbers about the expansion of eSports.

The report features high-level findings from brand new research across multiple countries profiling 31.4 million eSports viewers and participants in the U.S., and another 16.3 million in key Western European territories.

“Long established in Asia, eSports and free-to-play have now broken out of their niche and into Western markets. Does this prove there is a direct relationship between the two phenomena At Newzoo, we believe so,” said Peter Warman, Newzoo CEO. “It is not surprising that free-to-play titles such as League of Legends, DOTA 2 and World of Tanks are currently leading the West in eSports. Time spent and engagement have become equally important KPIs as money spent, and that is essentially what eSports delivers.”

Newzoo Free Report: Sizing & Profiling eSports from Newzoo

The report showed that some 56 percent of U.S. gamers (and 50 percent of Western European gamers) are aware of eSports. That’s substantial, but there’s still room for significant growth. The size of the market is impress, with some 47.7 million people in th U.S. and Western Europe combined who either play or participate in eSports. It’s important to remember that leading Western eSports titles also have huge audiences elsewhere in the world, particularly in Asia, usually exceed the size of the Western audience.

While that 47.7 million number is large, the report notes that only 40 percent of eSports viewers are strongly engaged, either playing in amateur contests or watching regularly. That leaves the majority of eSports viewers to still be engaged at a deeper level, which explains the continuing investment of publishers like Riot Games in efforts to expand competitions and encourage more teams to form at different levels.

The eSports viewer is, not surprisingly, a pretty hard-core gamer according to the stats compiled by the report. Some 22 percent of them are big spenders, compared to 8 percent for all gamers. They are also havey console gamers, at least in the U.S., and are early adopters of next-gen consoles – 23 percent own an Xbox One compared to 7 percent of all console gamers. These eSports viewers are usually male (about 45 percent are males aged 21-35), and they’re more likely to be married (52 percent versus 39 percent for all gamers) and have a full-time job (71 percent versus 50 percent).

“Large companies like Riot Games, Valve, Wargaming and Ubisoft are placing bets on the growing success of eSports worldwide,” said SuperData CEO Joost van Dreunen. “And with the booming popularity of streaming services like and, it is becoming easier than ever for gamers to connect with other players and form communities that culminate in competitive gaming.”

Newzoo believes eSports growth will continue. “eSports has been extremely popular in Asia for a long time. Growth in that region will continue through organic growth of economy and connected population. The biggest change of which we have only witnessed the beginning, is in the West,” noted Warman. “As more game companies get involved in eSports on a professional level or by facilitating amateur leagues and championships, the involvement of Western gamers will continue to increase. The fact that the free-to-play model incentives and justifies the investment in eSports will only accelerate this as more titles move to a free-to-play or at least a business model that gives them continuous revenues, e.g. through add-on content or in-game spending.”

That means an expanding opportunity for publishers in eSports. “More time spent engaged with a game franchise will in the end translate into more money,” said Warman. “Our data shows that 60 percent of the 31.4 million Americans only watches eSports sometimes. The other 40 percent , or 13 million Americans, can already be considered eSports enthousiasts. The 60 percent represent the direct potential that will get more involved and ensure viewing time and participation will probably double in the coming year. The fact that companies like Twitch lower all thresholds to broadcast your game from your PC, console or mobile game will add to this.”

Warman predicts publishers will increase investment into eSports over the next year or two. “Wargaming invested $8 million in 2013 in their eSports effort. This year they expect to spend in excess of $10M,” Warman said. “The current players will up their investment and other companies are coming in. Activision is clearly accelerating their effort illustrated by the recent $1 million dollar Call of Duty Championship. I expect others, such as Ubisoft and EA to join. And let’s not forget about Valve and its DOTA 2. This year they will make a serious attempt to threaten League of Legends position as number 1 with DOTA 2. Publishers will also be able to recoup a growing share of their investment through sponsorships and media deals. ‘Innovative’ consumer brands such as RedBull, Coke, Intel, American Express, HBO as well as all hardware (peripheral) companies are already investing good money. More brands will follow.”