The European market for eSports and its live streams have continued to grow this year impressively: in 2020 there has been an increase of 7.4 percent amongst Europeans who watch eSports. Among them are more and more people who do not play games themselves, emphasising the overall popularity of eSports as a niche.
For years, eSports betting has been a rapidly growing phenomenon. Especially in Asia, watching professional gamers has turned out to be very popular, while online sports betting also tends to be popular in this continent.
On a worldwide scale there are 495 million people who watch professional gamers on a regular basis. This year’s eSports market’s revenue is estimated at $974 million, showing its major potential.
Let’s take a further look at why eSports have gained so much attention. We’ll do so by looking at the recent developments in Europe.
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Corona Pandemic Boosts Popularity
If we break down Europe there have been 92 million people watching eSports this year, as confirmed by a joint report by research firm Newzoo and PayPal. The growth of 7.4 percent was slightly less than a year earlier, when the growth was even higher: 9.7 percent.
The corona pandemic has made people watch eSports more frequently and while traditional sports were either postponed, cancelled or played without fans, the global attention for online broadcasts of eSports increased significantly.
Just to give you an example: 51 percent of eSport viewers in the Netherlands say they have started watching more eSports due to the corona lockdown and will continue to do so. A third of eSport viewers watch eSports regularly.
Non-Gamers Increasingly Interested
Esports even managed to draw the attention of people who don’t play games themselves. The Netherlands has the highest percentage of those non-playing eSport viewers (9 percent), compared to the ten other EU countries that have been studied.
Esports are also becoming more popular among women, as one third of the eSport audience in major European countries is female. Women even spend a little more money on eSports (48%) than men (46%). Fans have shown to buy more and more digital merchandise, such as in-game skins, but also physical merchandising, such as shirts of favourite eSport teams.
Data show that eSports are not only popular amongst youngsters. Two thirds of the people that spend money on eSports have a full-time job while about 50 percent have a partner and children.
Esports Popularity Explained
In recent years, eSports has received increasing media attention. On platforms such as Twitch, eSports can be watched 24/7 while the increasing interest in eSports is a rather logical consequence of the increased popularity of online gaming in general.
In addition, higher internet speeds have ensured that watching eSports is possible for more and more people, also in continents like Asia where eSports have gained extreme popularity.
Our expectation is that the eSports market will continue to increase, especially in Europe where there is plenty of room to grow, even beyond 2020 — even beyond the corona pandemic.