How do traditional sports demographics compare to those of eSports? American male millennials watch as much competitive eSports as they do baseball and more than ice hockey, according to a new report by Newzoo.

Seventy-six percent of eSports enthusiasts surveyed say that their eSports viewership is taking away hours they used to spend on traditional sports like football or baseball. While some may argue that video games can’t be a “real” sport, the traditional athletic industry isn’t so quick to dismiss the potential of cross over fandom.

Based on eSports consumer insights research in 27 countries, Newzoo’s latest report offers a comparison of eSports fans with those of the four big American sports. For example, there are six million eSports fans in the US who do not watch baseball, hockey, basketball or football at all, but basketball clubs, in particular, have tremendous potential to attract these fans by investing in eSports.

Of the 80 million American basketball fans, 9.6 million are also into eSports. American sports clubs, owners and celebrities are adopting eSports and thus appealing to a wider audience.


“The huge interest in eSports from sports celebrities, clubs, media companies, and brands alike illustrate how games are leading the media and entertainment business towards a new future that has more in common with games than not,” said Pieter van de Heuvel, head of eSports at Newzoo, in a statement. “Games bring innovation in tech and consumer business models, and have a unique ability to engage with and actively involve the younger generations. Traditional and digital media and sports companies bring experience in providing advertisers with an effective communication platform. There clearly is a natural, strategic and commercial fit.”

For marketers, creating a genuine brand relationship with millennials is often difficult and confusing. (Turns out that simply calling your brand “bae” doesn’t work.) Newzoo reminds brands in the report that the millennial audience between the ages of 21 and 35, and the generation following, have a completely different media consumption profile than older consumers.

“Games and eSports give them the active engagement they desire and thrills they do not find in other entertainment,” the company said.

Video game enthusiasts are early adopters of new technology and tend to spend more on digital entertainment. ESports fans take it to the next level of spending, with 52 percent of US eSports fans having a HBO subscription versus 29 percent of the general online population. Similarly, 42 percent of eSports enthusiasts own an iPhone compared to 38 percent of the general population.

“Gaming is what every traditional sports league is desperate to become: young, global, digital, and increasingly diverse,” ESPN The Magazine previously said in its special eSports issue.

Interestingly, Newzoo’s report indicates that eSports fans enjoy competition across multiple platforms, even mobile. While eSports normally refers to games like League of Legends or CS: GO, 39 percent of eSports fans surveyed said that they played Clash Royale in the previous three months, compared to just 17 percent of the general gaming population.

When you look at the crossover between millennials and the overall brand loyalty of eSports fans, it’s no wonder traditional brands are investing. eSports revenues generated through merchandise, ticketing, media rights, advertising, and sponsorships have already raked in around half a billion dollars this year.

If eSports revenues per fan were similar to the NBA, Newzoo notes, it would easily be a $2.5 billion business today.