SAN FRANCISCO/AMSTERDAM: The global esports market is expected to grow to $463m in 2016, representing year-on-year growth of 43% and putting it on track for a valuation of $1.1bn by 2019, a new report has forecast.

According to market research firm Newzoo, the audience for enthusiasts of esports, the competitive gaming trend, has grown to 131m while there are another 125m occasional viewers who tune in mostly for big international events.

Based on analysis of esports engagement across 27 countries, Newzoo's 2016 Global Esports Market Report found North America leads on revenues, but Asia is driving audience growth.

Global revenues reached $325m in 2015, with North America accounting for $121m of the total, but the region is expected to generate a full $175m this year on the back of merchandise sales, event tickets, sponsorship, online advertising and media rights.

Indeed, Newzoo reported that online advertising is now the fastest growing revenue segment, having nearly doubled (99.6%) in value since 2014.

However, in terms of audience participation, approaching half (44%) of global esports enthusiasts come from Asia and the report said this is being fuelled by "explosive uptake" in Southeast Asia.

Another trend highlighted in the report is the increasing involvement of traditional media companies, which it said is likely to focus on content and media rights.

The report added that all major publishers have increased their investment as they recognise the convergence of video, live events and the games themselves provide consumers with the "cross-screen entertainment they desire from their favorite franchises".

As Peter Warman, CEO at Newzoo, explained: "2016 will be pivotal for esports. The initial buzz will settle down and the way forward on several key factors, such as regulations, content rights and involvement of traditional media, will become more clear."

Data sourced from Newzoo; additional content by Warc staff