Drawing in millions of fans from around the world, as well as some of the sports industry's biggest leagues and teams, and the most important brands, eSports are the new craze in sports.
It comes as no surprise that 2017 will see the eSports economy grow to US$ 696 million, a year-on-year growth of 41.3%, as predicted by Newzoo in its latest Global Esports Market Report.
US$ 517 million from that revenue will come from brand investment, says Newzoo, which will be broken down into US$ 155 million on advertising, US$ 266 million on sponsorship, and a further US$ 95 million on media rights. In addition, consumer spending this year on tickets and merchandise will amount to US$ 63 million.
As far as fans go, the global eSports audience will reach 385 million in 2017, made up of 191 million eSports Enthusiasts and a further 194 million Occasional Viewers. The number of eSports fans is expected to grow by another 50% toward 2020, totaling 286 million.
Brand investment will double by 2020, pushing the total market to US$ 1.5 billion.
Newzoo explains that, for most game publishers, eSports is currently not a profitable business. However, their investment is justified by the positive impact on game revenues and the future potential of their eSports activities as a stand-alone business.
Peter Warman, CEO at Newzoo, said: "eSports is not only growing exponentially as a new independent business and industry, it is also accelerating the convergence of various established industries. For brands, media, and entertainment companies, eSports provides a chance to capitalize on the favorite pastime of digital natives and Millennials: playing games and watching game content."
"With the arrival of live streams and events, gaming has entered the realm of broadcasters and media that can now apply their advertising business model to a market previously out of reach for them."