NEW YORK: Corporate sponsorship of eSports in the US is set to top $100m this year, a total reaching $143m when adding in merchandising and ticket sales.
According to SuperData Research, the digital measurement company, total revenues from eSports – video game competitions in which players compete in front of live audiences – will reach $612m, with Asia-Pacific accounting for 61% of the total. North America will take another 23%, with Europe on 12%.
It further reported that the total global audience for these events is 134m strong and growing, prompting interest from major platforms like Amazon and YouTube.
Currently, almost half of eSports viewers in the US use Twitch.tv, the world's largest live-streaming site for games content. Amazon snapped it up for almost $1bn last year, and YouTube is now reported to be working on its own such service.
"Gaming and eSports, in particular, are going to be a big driving force for the new-look YouTube Live," a source told The Daily Dot.
"There'll be huge opportunities for established streamers and organisations soon and I would say that the record numbers of eSports viewers are only going to grow when Google starts promoting and partnering with these events."
That, in turn, will likely attract more brands as they seek to tap the opportunity to reach the youthful gaming audience. Brands in categories from CPG to automotive, including Coca-Cola, Red Bull, Nissan and Volkswagen, have already latched onto the trend.
Competitive gaming is a marketing strategy, not a revenue driver, SuperData stressed. The $111m corporate sponsorship in the US goes towards teams, leagues and publishers in return for displaying logos, products and naming rights.
Earlier this year, Scott Nowers, co-founder/ceo at media agency Waypoint Media, told Warc that eSports had "reached a tipping point in terms of audience size and acceptance into the mainstream".
He expected this area would become more "culturally significant" over the next three years. "Now is the time for brands to move on this opportunity: the cost of media will only be climbing from here," he advised.
He also suggested that it has "become viable to start moving dollars from TV ad-budgets to gaming-related marketing investments".
Data sourced from SuperData Research, The Daily Dot; additional content by Warc staff