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According to a recent Goldman Sachs report, e-sports have entered the popular mainstream. Not only is there a fast-growing fan base on platforms like Twitch and YouTube, but also there are plenty of monetization opportunities that are just now emerging. So if you were only thinking of e-sports as a form of videogaming or entertainment, you would be mistaken. Just as huge national brands sign up to be sponsors of traditional sports (even going so far as to buy up the naming rights for an arena or stadium), we might be on the cusp of seeing the same thing happen in the world of e-sports.
Monthly audience size
The starting point for thinking about e-sports as a potential marketing opportunity is to understand just how big the monthly audience now is for e-sports. And not just North America, either – we’re talking about a truly global phenomenon. For example, according to Goldman Sachs, the total audience on YouTube and Twitch for e-sports is now greater than the combined total audience for HBO, Netflix, and ESPN. The monthly audience size of e-sports in 2018 was 167 million – and that number is projected to grow to 276 million by 2022. If you’re a digital marketer, can you really afford to ignore such a huge potential audience?
Total engagement and interaction
Moreover, e-sports viewers represent a very engaged audience. In China, for example, the average e-sports fans watches 98 minutes per day on the live streaming service Huya. In 2017, Twitch reported over 355 billion viewer minutes, up 22% on a year-over-year basis.
The youth demographic
Another key selling point from a marketing perspective is just how young the e-sports audience skews. As Goldman Sachs pointed out in its latest e-sports report, the audience is “young, digital, global.” And the numbers back that up – 79% of all viewers are under age 35. The most exciting developments are taking place in Asia, where two platforms – Huya and Douya – have attracted the majority of fans and viewers. In the U.S., the two platforms to watch are Twitch and YouTube, each of which has fast-growing e-sports audiences.
2019 could be a breakout year for e-sports in terms of monetization opportunities. A number of landmark media rights deals have already been signed. In North America, for example, Activision has signed a two-year, $90 million deal with Twitch to distribute e-sports content. By 2022, the total monetization opportunity for e-sports could be $3 billion, according to Goldman Sachs.
So how do you get started as a digital marketer in the brave new world of e-sports? One starting point might be looking for unique crossover opportunities between traditional sports and e-sports. For example, the NBA has partnered with Twitch in order to keep fans engaged during the offseason, and the NFL has partnered with Electronic Arts Sports. Another way to get started is by viewing top gamers as “influencers.” Prize pools are exploding in size, and being able to sponsor a top gamer could be a way to get your brand in front of others.
One thing is certain: e-sports are here to stay, and represent a viable new digital marketing platform. The time to get in is now, when many brands are still trying to figure out what e-sports are. If you’re looking for a way to reach young millennials on a global basis and tap into a fast-growing industry, then it’s worth exploring the many opportunities now available in e-sports.