Newzoo: Global Esports Economy Will Reach $905.6 Million in 2018 as Brand Investment Grows by 48%

Global esports viewers will total 380 million this year

The global esports audience will reach 380 million this year, made up of 165 million Esports Enthusiasts and 215 million Occasional Viewers. Based on our audience and revenue expectations for 2018, the average revenue per Esports Enthusiast in 2018 will be $5.5, up 20% since 2017. As the esports industry matures and the number of local events, leagues, and media rights deals increases, we anticipate the average revenue per fan to grow to $6.6 by 2021. Our audience numbers are slightly lower than previously reported for two reasons. Firstly, an in-depth analysis of esports viewership among rural and urban populations in growth regions such as India, Southeast Asia, and the Middle East and Africa led to a minor downward correction. Secondly, the numbers now reflect only the viewers of professional esports content, leagues, and events. Previously, participants in amateur (online) competitions, such as ESL Play, Toornament, and FACEIT, were also part of the Esports Enthusiast group. However, a notable share of these active competitive gamers does not watch professional esports content. Due to the increasing importance of media and viewership in the esports industry, and hence a sharper focus on pure viewership numbers, this group is no longer included in our audience estimates.

The Future of Esports

An industry survey that we performed late last year found that the majority of respondents from teams expect esports to take another five to 10 years to mature fully as a business. The same research showed that brands and agencies expect the ecosystem to be fully professionalized in three to five years. This illustrates the current status of the market: great expectations from outside and more conservative views from people within. This year will be pivotal in determining the pace at which esports becomes the global multi-billion-dollar business we all envisage. Several key factors will influence the speed of its growth, including whether esports can engage new fans through new formats and franchises, the growth of mobile esports, the success of the franchising structure, and team profitability.

North america leads revenues; local initiatives thrive in western europe

North America will remain the largest esports market in 2018 with revenues of $345 million. This will show impressive growth to reach $656 million by 2021. Most of these revenues will come from sponsorships, which will grow from $100 million in 2017 to $162 million in 2018. This is boosted by the number of North American teams that have welcomed new non-endemic sponsorships and the region hosting several of the world’s largest leagues and tournaments. The 23 million Enthusiasts in North America will generate $14.80 per fan this year, higher than in any other region.

Scope of our revenue estimates

We define industry revenues as the amount the industry generates through the sale of sponsorship, media rights, advertising, publisher fees, and tickets and merchandising. Our revenue numbers exclude prize pools and player salaries, which we consider to be cost items at an industry level, and fan contributions to prize pools, which we consider game-related revenues. We also exclude revenues from online gambling and betting related to esports (e.g., via BWIN, Unikrn), an economy that exists in parallel to esports and, similar to sports, generates more revenues than esports itself. Finally, we do not include capital investments in esports organizations, as we think it is important to distinguish between revenues and investments. In terms of countries and regions, we define the market size as the amount generated by consumers in that specific territory, as opposed to the amount that companies based in a particular territory generate worldwide. Learn more about our scope and methodology in this factsheet.



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