Staff Reporters
Jul 29, 2020

Brand investment in esports heads toward $1 billion, with Asia leading consumption

Asia leads the world in consumption of both esports content and overall gaming content, including livestreaming, according to a new forecast from Warc.


Esports penetration is approaching a billion viewers worldwide and is strongest in Asia, where nearly one in three people (30%) watches esports, according to a new Warc report, Global Advertising Trends report: Opportunities in Gaming. The rest of the world lags behind, with penetration of 20% in Latin America, 14% in Europe and MEA, and 13% in North America.

Asia also leads in viewing of general gaming content, including livestreams. Among 16- to 24-year-olds globally, 41% have watched a gaming stream in the last month, per GlobalWebIndex, and the rate is 35% among millennials. Penetration in Asia is 38%, followed by Latin America (31%), North America (30%), MENA (30%) and Europe (27%).

More facts from the report:

  • 27% of males have watched an esports tournament in the last month, equivalent to 554 million people. The rate among females is far lower at 17% (349 million), placing the total audience at just over 900 million worldwide.
  • Brand investment in esports will rise 9.9% worldwide to $844 million this year. This is less than half the growth rate in 2019.
  • That breaks down to $615 million tobe spent on sponsorships and $229 million to be spent on ads during esports broadcasts.
  • On a global basis, esports uptake is greatest among Gen Z, at 27%, and stands at one in five among millennials.
  • Gen Z gamers watch six hours and 19 minutes of esports content a week on average. That's over an hour longer than they spend watching traditional sporting content (5:10), according to data from Limelight Networks.
  • Amazon-owned Twitch is the a big beneficiary from lockdown-driven changes in consumption. In April alone, consumption of gaming content on Twitch rose 63.8% from the previous month, topping 1.6 billion cumulative hours, more than double that of Facebook Gaming, YouTube Gaming, and the now defunct Mixer combined.
  • Twitch draws a predominantly Gen Z audience of 1.9 million per day, with viewing concentrated after 7 pm.

Said James McDonald, managing editor of WARC Data and author of the research:

Streaming is the new prime time for much of Gen Z, and Mixer's shuttering this month served only to highlight the stranglehold Twitch has on the market. Tencent may yet prove a challenger in the US with Trovo this year, but it has a great deal of catching up to do, along with Facebook and YouTube. Competitive gaming is big business in Asia—where Tencent is already king—though traditional sports fans in the West are yet to be wooed, with existing audiences instead consolidating during lockdown. A great deal of merger and acquisition activity, especially around media rights within esports, is expected in the short term as investors vie for control of potential windfalls.

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