- Analysts forecast eSports revenue will treble by 2020
- eSports betting turnover could reach $23 billion by 2020
eSports analysts, Newzoo, claims eSports revenue rose from $130m in 2012 to $465m in 2017, with the industry forecast to be worth $1.5bn by 2020. Market research firm Eilers & Krejcik Gaming project eSports betting turnover could reach $23 billion by 2020, with operators generating more than $1.8 billion in revenue.
eSports is a huge, organized computer gaming industry based around games such as League of Legends, Counter-Strike, and Overwatch. Tournaments are often staged in front of a live arena audience and streamed to millions. In 2016, the biggest eSports competition (the League of Legends World Championships), attracted more than 35 million viewers and the winning team took home a prize of $1m. Clearly, there is money to be made from eSports.
Betting companies acknowledge the difference between eSport enthusiasts and traditional sports betting punters and offer separate websites tailored specifically to eSport betters. Skin betting, or item betting, involves bets on the outcomes of eSports matches by risking virtual currency (a game’s weapon accessories known as ‘skins’), instead of money. For gamers, skin betting not only offers a way to make real money but can be a quick way to gain the most valuable skins and achieve greater gaming status.
Growing investment in eSports
This potential has not been lost on those with a financial interest in accessing the traditionally hard to reach eSports audience (69% male, aged 21 – 35 years old, according to Newzoo). Amazon bought the video streaming broadcaster Twitch for $970m in 2014 and soccer clubs such as Manchester City, Paris St-Germain, and West Ham are all investing in their own professional eSport teams to gain global exposure and a growth income stream.
Just a few years ago many were sceptical about the emerging eSports craze and some had even written it off as a passing craze that would simply die out; todays forecast goes a long way to proving that, for some, a large slice of humble pie is due.
Around 160 million people are regularly watching eSports and that can double for flagship events, so the total audience is already enough to hold its own against medium-tier sports; and it is growing.
The backing of professional sporting outfits such as Manchester City and PSG will not only help grow eSports and penetrate new audiences across the world but will help build much needed infrastructure allowing eSports to really take off.
2017 has seen the world’s leading sportswear giants start to enter the eSports market with sponsorship and there are rumours doing the rounds that an eSports World Cup isn’t far off.
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