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09 February 2022
Growing e-sports scene looks to TV
Competitive gaming on TV: it’s a compelling opportunity with growing viewership, growing revenues and cheap media rights at a time of increasing prestige – the question of whether it can go mainstream is now front and centre.
Why it matters
E-sports is popular, but it continues to feel like a niche spectacle for teenagers. Viewership and revenues are growing. If your target audience fits the bill, it could be time to dive in.
Newzoo, an analytics firm, pegs e-sports viewership at 728 million in 2021 with 920.3 million viewers expected by 2024.
Revenues grew 14.5% versus 2020 to top a billion dollars.
By 2024, the industry is expected to bring in $1.6 billion.
TV rights remain incredibly cheap compared to the hundreds of billions spent by broadcasters on traditional sports. Total media rights in e-sports came to $192.6m, per Newzoo.
Compared to the $2 billion worth of the Premier League in the US (UK channels paid £5 billion for just three years), or the $100bn plus worth of the deals struck around the NFL, e-sports are a steal.
At this stage of the game, the biggest chunk of revenues remain in sponsorship, per WARC’s visualisation.
Representatives from gaming companies are, understandably, upbeat about their industry’s prospects, telling Variety that broadcasters better get in before the feeding frenzy kicks off.
Currently, most e-sports viewing takes place on streaming platforms, with YouTube, Twitch, and in China BiliBili, having signed deals worth tens of millions of dollars. A handful of US broadcasters have also picked up some competitions but have left the centre of gravity with the streamers.
Opportunities will emerge with its debut in this year’s Asian Games and the piloting of e-sports during the upcoming 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, which follows a growing stance that major tournaments like the Olympics need to bring in the spectacles popular among younger audiences in order to survive.
“To date, only a handful of game publishers and e-sports IP holders have put in the work to drive the appropriate value for their content. Until that changes, there will be some ambiguity in e-sports’ ability to generate consistent rights fees across the board” – Brandon Snow, head of e-sports, Activision Blizzard, speaking to Variety.
Sourced from Newzoo, WARC, Variety, BBC, Olympics, The Athletic. Image: Pexels