The number of viewers watching eSports games has been surging upwards in recent years, and the trend seems set to stay. According to the research data analyzed and published by Safe Betting Sites, the number of eSports viewers globally is expected to reach 495 million in 2020.
From this figure, enthusiasts or frequent viewers will number 222.9 million, an increase of 25 million year-on-year (YoY). For the period between 2018 and 2023, the figure will increase at a CAGR of 11.3%, to reach 295.4 million in 2023. According to data published by Newzoo, the number of frequent viewers worldwide was 173 million in 2018.
On the other hand, occasional viewers will number 272.2 million in 2020, an increase of 27 million YoY. The number will grow at a CAGR of 9.6% between 2018 and 2023, to reach 351.1 million in 2023.
There will also be an increase in the number of people who are aware of eSports globally. From approximately 1.8 billion in 2019, it is projected to increase to 2.0 billion in 2020. China is expected to take the lead in this regard, with 530.4 million people aware of eSports.
In tandem with the increase of eSports viewers globally, Newzoo also points out that revenue will increase. Annual revenue per enthusiast is projected to reach $4.94 in 2020 with total revenue estimated to reach slightly over $1.1 billion. This will mark an increase of 2.8% over the 2019 total.
As a result of changes in the model, China will be the global leader in terms of revenue share, contributing 35% to the global total. It is expected to rake in $385.1 million and at a CAGR of 17% between 2018 and 2023, to reach $540 million by 2023.
North America will come in a distant second with $252.5 million in revenue, while Western Europe will be third with $201.2 million.
US eSports Viewers Could Reach 57.2M in 2020, China 162.6M
In the US, there were about 25.7 million viewers of eSports in 2018. According to eMarketer, the number of monthly eSports viewers in the US will increase by 10.6% in 2020, surpassing 35 million.
By 2023, the figure is projected to surpass 46 million. It is estimated that 15.5% of all US internet users will be watching eSports by 2023 at least once every month. The Newzoo prediction is significantly more optimistic, estimating a US audience of 57.2 million in 2020.
While North America is a major eSports market, accounting for 12% of global viewers, Asia Pacific is the leading market worldwide. In fact, Asia has more than thrice the size of North America’s market, accounting for over half of the global audience base.
China is among key markets in the region, as about 62% of its 904 million internet users access live streaming video according to a government report. The report reveals that at least 260 million people in China tune in to live stream feeds to watch eSports.
This is in fact the largest vertical for live streaming video in the country. Traditional sports come in second, with 213 million people tuning in.
In 2019, research from Ampere Analysis found that 26% of China’s internet users had watched eSports in a single month. The eSports audience in China is expected to reach 162.6 million in 2020.
An interesting bit is that 72% of the global eSports audience consists of males. However, the gender mix is significantly more balanced in China, with 43% of viewers being female. In the US, 83% of viewers are male.
LoL Worlds 2020 Peaks at 1.1M Viewers on Day 1
The League of Legends World Championship (Worlds) took the lead in 2019 tournaments in terms of hours watched as well as peak viewers. According to data from Esports Charts, the tournament attracted a peak audience of 3.9 million people during the semi-finals. During the final round on November 10, it had a peak of 44 million concurrent viewers.
All in all, it had over 100 million viewers and broke the streaming record on Twitch, hitting a peak of 1.7 million concurrent viewers. Similarly, in terms of hours watched, LoL took the lead in 2019 with a total of 348.8 million hours watched on YouTube, Twitch and Mixer.
2020 seems to be promising for the tournament. Slated to run from September 25 to October 31, 2020, LoL Worlds 2020 had 1,168,105 viewers on its first day.
On the other hand, the Overwatch League was the top League in 2019 in terms of live viewership hours. The total number of hours watched on Twitch and YouTube was 104.1 million.