Newzoo’s Esports Consumer Predictions for 2021: A Quarter of the World’s Population Will Be Aware of Esports
This year, we are celebrating five years of esports research at Newzoo. To mark the occasion, we’ve made some consumer predictions about what esports will look like in 2021. We’ll also be looking back at some of the predictions we made about the market over the past few years. These were included in our 2015 Global Esports Market Report, in which we predicted esports awareness and audience numbers toward 2017, and this post on the five factors defining the future of esports.
A major indicator of esports growth is how many consumers are actually aware of the industry. Esports is a relatively young phenomenon, so naturally, there are plenty of consumers who have never heard the terms esports and competitive gaming. Every year, we ask consumers across the globe about their esports awareness, which is one of the inputs for our Global Esports Market Model. This year, we estimate that 1.6 billion people globally are aware of esports. We expect this number to increase to two billion by 2021 — more than a quarter of the world’s population.
However, this does not mean that these two billion consumers will actually watch or participate in esports. As the industry continues to cross into the mainstream, it must go beyond awareness and address the challenge of increasing its viewership. Overall, we forecast that the total esports audience will grow from 395 million this year to 580 million by 2021.
In addition to these predictions about audience numbers and awareness, we have a few bold predictions about the esports market in the coming years. This post will focus exclusively on the consumer side of the market. Next week, we will publish a follow-up piece that focuses more on the business side of the esports industry.
So, what milestones will esports reach by 2021 and how did our predictions from 2015 fare?
Consumer Predictions: What Will the $1.7 Billion Esports Market Look Like in 2021?
Prediction #1: The League of Legends World Championship Final will attract more viewers than the Six Nations Championship.
League of Legends’ viewership is growing quickly. Our Game Streaming Tracker shows that the game generated 34 million esports hours watched in July 2018 alone and more young people are tuning in. Esports’ current growth trajectory, combined with its younger, international audience, suggests that this giant esports event is on track to attract more viewership than one of rugby’s biggest international competitions.
Prediction #2: A high-profile esports competitor will star in a global Nike commercial.
In terms of viewership, esports as a whole is already on par with golf. Given that Nike has already had commercials starring golf pros, including Tiger Woods and Rory McElroy, we expect the company to feature a major esports athlete in a commercial by 2021. What’s more, our Consumer Insights show that the 10–31 demographic is more likely to watch esports than popular traditional sports like American Football. Naturally, an esports-centric commercial would resonate with this audience.
Prediction #3: More than half of the viewers of the League of Legends World Championship Final will not be active players of the game.
According to our data, 20% of League of Legends esports viewers don’t actively play the game. Next year marks League of Legends’ 10th birthday, so player drop-off is natural as more new games hit the market. Couple this with the continued growth of the global esports economy and it’s likely that an increased number of lapsed League of Legends players will return to watch the final en masse, as many already do.
Prediction #4: The majority of esports content will be official shoulder content, as opposed to live matches.
Commentary and pre- and post-game analysis complementing live events have been a part of the sports world for years, including NFL Primetime for American football. This type of official shoulder content is already starting to become more prominent in esports, including documentaries, behind-the-scenes features, pre- and post-game analysis, highlight videos, road-to and after videos, and talk shows. Examples include the road to the EU LCS Finals in Paris, “The Dive” for League of Legends, and ESL’s “Ask the Pros” series.
Prediction #5: Ibiza will attract 10,000 esports tourists to its live events.
All major esports cities rely on tourism and, as mentioned above, esports is popular with younger demographics. We expect that Ibiza, a tourism hotspot for young people across the globe, will capitalize on this with its own esports events. The physical presence of esports is becoming increasingly important; we’ve already seen plenty of resorts and cities investing in the industry, with arenas being built in Las Vegas and hospitality company Melco Resorts & Entertainment recently opening its first dedicated esports stadium in Macau.
Other Predictions for 2021:
Prediction #6: Esports will rally together more viewers than tennis in the U.S
Prediction #7: A quarter of the world’s population will be aware of esports
Prediction #8: The world’s most popular esports team will have more Twitter followers than the Golden State Warriors
Prediction #9: The world’s 10 biggest capital cities will each have a dedicated stadium for esports
Prediction #10: Game-streaming content will generate a total of 10 billion hours watched across major platforms.
Did the Esports Consumer Predictions We Made Three Years Ago Come True?
Prediction #1: There will be 145 million Esports Enthusiasts by 2017.
Result: True! Our data shows that there were 143 million Esports Enthusiasts in 2017. That’s just two million fewer than what we predicted back in 2015. It’s worth noting, however, that we changed our segmentation since our first report; in our newer reports, we no longer include non-esports viewers who participate in matches. Learn more about our methodology.
Prediction #2: There will be 190 million Occasional Esports Viewers by 2017.
Result: True! Our 2017 estimates show that there were, in fact, 192 million Occasional Esports Viewers in 2017. The market with the most Occasional Viewers in 2017 was China with 60.4 million (31.3% of the global figure), followed by the U.S. with 24.6 million (12.8%).
Prediction #3: More than 1.2 billion people will be aware of esports by 2017.
Result: True! Our stats show that there were 1.4 billion people who were aware of esports in 2017. We expect this to grow to 2 billion by 2021.
Prediction # 4: By 2017, the number of esports fans will be higher than that of handball or American football fans.
Result: False! According to our research, 10% of people in the online population were esports fans in 2017, compared to the 14% of the online population who were handball fans (American football has a similar number of enthusiasts). We’re not quite there yet, but judging by esports’ current trajectory, it’s only a matter of time before it becomes more popular than both handball and American football.
Prediction #5: The emergence of more accessible esports genres will result in a bigger overall esports audience.
Result: True! The explosive rise of the battle royale genre has opened up esports to a whole new segment of viewers. In fact, our Game Streaming Tracker for July shows that PUBG was the #5 most watched game on Twitch by esports hours, placing just below industry giants like CS:GO and Overwatch. In addition, mobile esports, including Arena of Valor and Clash Royale competitions, is opening the industry to an even wider audience.
The original article can be found here.