Over the past 16 months, gaming and eSports have leapt up in popularity, with the UK mobile gaming market increasing 50% alone during the pandemic, and the global eSport audience increasing 19% from 2019. Not only that, but the demographic is broadening with more female gamers joining the fray, meaning advertising opportunities are huge.
In this blog, we’ll show you how the rapid growth of eSports can be used to your advantage when it comes to promoting your product or service.
What is eSports?
If you haven’t already heard of eSport, that’s okay! eSport, or electronic sport, is the term used to describe competitive video gaming. There are currently around 475 million people tuning in to watch their favourite gamers worldwide, up from 397 million in 2019.
Why should I care about the rise of eSports?
Well, that depends! If you work in marketing or with a non-endemic company (a company not relating gaming in this case), then this is pretty big news! eSports has a readily engaged fan base, so whether via advertising, sponsorship or influencers, the potential market reach is huge.
Who is taking part in eSports?
It’s not just young males tapping away in their rooms nowadays. One of the top female gamers is British born Lia Shelesh, aka SSSniperWolf, who currently has over 28 million subscribers to her Youtube channel. SSSniperWolf isn’t alone either, it’s estimated that around 47% of world gamers are female, this equates to approximately 1bn female gamers in the world.
In an article by Kairos Media, they estimated the following hashtags were mentioned over 700,000 times online during the past 2 years, a 47% increase in mentions since the pandemic began:
#FemaleGamer #GirlsWhoGame #GirlsWhoPlayVideoGames #GirlGamer #GirlGamers #FemaleGamer #GamerGirl #GamerChick #WomenGamers #WomenInGaming
A lucrative space
Over 35% of eSports competitors are female, with the highest-earning female being Sasha Hostyn, known in the eSports world as Scarlett. Scarlett has made a total of over $400K in the course of her career so far. 99% of her earnings were made playing the game StarCraft 2.
These profits are much smaller than her male counterpart’s, Johan Sundstein, better known as N0tail. N0tail has earned almost $7million in his gaming career, predominantly from playing Dota 2.
Is age just a number?
In terms of eSports viewers, the median age is 29, which may come as a surprise considering a lot of the viewers are from younger groups, meaning the number of older to younger viewers is fairly equal. According to a study done by YouGov in 2020, over 70% of viewers are between 18 to 44, with two-thirds of those being in the C2DE social grade, meaning they’re more likely to be in more manual than professional occupations.
The average players’ age is much younger than the viewer, with 24 being the average age for men and 27 for women. However, these ages do depend on the game being played, for example, Fortnite garners a younger crowd with 17 being the average age, whilst Super Smash Bros. has an average age of 25.
eSports like any other sport is a spectator sport. The most-watched event in recent years was the Intel Extreme Masters Katowice, a multi-game tournament including the likes of League of Legends, Starcraft and Counter-Strike. It garnered 46 million viewers. When you consider the same year, the NBA finals attracted less than 20.5 million viewers, eSports proves it has a significant fan base. According to a study by Nielson on the consumption of eSport content vs traditional sport, in the UK, 65% of eSports fans will view a live-stream event online, whilst only 38% live-stream a sporting event.
What advertising opportunities are there?
Sponsorship in eSports vs sponsorship in traditional sport
The eSports market revenue worldwide is expected to reach over $1000 million in 2021, with $641 million of that on sponsorships alone. We can see big-name brands like Red Bull, Mercedes and Coca-Cola sponsoring eSports, whether by hosting tournaments, partnering with eSport clubs or sponsoring whole leagues. It’s not just big brands that can be involved though; the beauty of eSports is the inclusivity, whether we’re talking players or marketers. As a brand, you have far fewer constraints sponsoring an eSport competitor than you would in traditional “real world” sponsorships.
Teamwork makes a dream work
For multiplayer games like Overwatch or League of Legends, creating an eSports team to compete in tournaments can be a fantastic way to raise brand awareness by having your team showcase your logos and products. Not only that but if your team wins then there’s also the prize money.
It pays to play (and advertise!)
For British eSport fans, in particular, studies have shown they are more receptive to ads than the average person. They’re 15% more likely to pay attention to advertising to help them choose products compared to an ‘average Briton’. When it comes to ads, video ads especially are big, particularly on Twitch, where you can expect a high ROI for your investment thanks to the Twitch Affiliate and Twitch Partner Programs.
Under the influence(r)
Due to players having to work hard to make a name for themselves, they can be highly effective as influencers. Fans trust their views and in turn, are likely to take a genuine interest in what their favourite influencer supports. eSport influencers keep their audience engaged with their fun commentary when playing and also the chat they have with their audience on various topics. Their ability to reach a large audience and drive engagement could help you raise brand awareness and depending on your business type, drive sales. One such example is Sim Racing specialists Boosted Media, who since 2014 have worked tirelessly to create content that has earned them 21,741,379 video views. They now collaborate with businesses to review products and pass discounts on to their 125K stronghold of loyal subscribers. It’s clear to see how the high levels of trust that influencers generate can result in a win-win for businesses and consumers.
There is great potential in eSports marketing for brands from all industries and sizes. eSports has grown massively in popularity and will continue to do so, with market revenue projected to reach nearly $1,800 million by 2022. Whilst the split between male and female spectators isn’t quite even, the gap is closing, meaning an even greater demographic range to reach out to. To make the most of the available audience, know who you want to target, and from there you’ll know how best to approach an eSport marketing strategy.