5 eSports Facts That All Investors Need to Know

Neal Covant
  • July 14, 2022
  • Neal Covant
SponsorPulse CRO, Neal Covant, shares the facts about eSports consumer engagement and how the category can deliver from a sponsorship perspective.

Anyone else get the sense that trying to understand the health and trajectory of eSports is like following a classic game of Ping Pong?!

I’ve read and heard so many contending views (and stats) over the past few months. Some say eSports is still very early in its overall development while others declare that it has approached maturity. Some say that from a sponsorship perspective, eSports is near impossible to breakthrough and drive returns, while we have measured and validated many strong sponsorship performers in the space. Yes, I am paraphrasing – but the sentiment of ambiguity is a fact.

Let’s dive into other facts about eSports, provided by the most reliable source – people (consumers 13 – 64 years in the US to be exact)!

Fact 1: eSports deliver both breadth and depth in the ‘millions’

Current eSports overall engagement (i.e. the number of Americans that have followed the sport over the past 12-months), sits at 67MM+, with 28MM+ weekly followers – the breadth.

Further down the funnel, the intrinsic and loyal following of eSports is strong. 16MM+ Americans demonstrate ‘excitement’ toward Esports with 8MM+ declare that they are ‘passionate’ about the sport – the depth.

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Fact 2: eSports isn’t just a ‘young person’s game’

While it’s true that eSports is strongest with younger cohorts, the sport extends beyond the 13- to 24-year-old ‘sweet spot’. Nearly half (43%) of Americans 25 to 39 years have engaged in the sport over the past year with 1 in 4 consumers 40 – 49 years also having done so. That said, there is a sharp drop off with consumers 50+ years…can’t win em’ all.

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Engagement shows you the total number of people who have engaged with a property over the past 12 months

Fact 3: Growth and forward-looking momentum point in the same direction. Upwards.

As most, if not all, know, eSports didn’t get to where it is today overnight. In the US, the sport has seen steady, and significant, growth since 2019 with the most notable jump in engagement (of the years SponsorPulse has tracked the sport) happening between 2019 and 2020.

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Those with a keen eye will notice that gains made from 2020 to 2021 are much slighter. That said, gains still point in a positive direction. Further, when looking at forward looking ‘momentum’. 14% of consumers state that their interest in eSports is growing – that’s 9MM people with growing interest.So, while the consumer facts surrounding the future health of eSports in the US show that eSports is not in ‘early stage of development’ but has also not plateaued. The sport is still growing, just at a much slower pace.

4: It’s big and it’s growing…but it’s not in a leadership position

Context is everything, especially when it comes to decision making criteria. The first three facts all speak to the strength, passion and momentum of eSports…which are impressive. BUT, eSports has a way to go to hit levels of other professional sports.This doesn’t mean that an investment in eSports doesn’t make sense. But it does help potential investors right-size expectations (and contextualize potential investment amount by way of a comparative).

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Fact 5: eSports provide a strong foundation for sponsorship success (but not for everyone)

Investment amount aside – a discussion we’ll reserve for another time – from a consumer perspective, eSports demonstrates potential to deliver on the entire funnel of sponsorship objectives. From connecting with consumers (which we discussed above) all the way to driving incremental purchasing.

As a starting point, 7MM+ consumers (11% of engaged) would be more likely to purchase a brand because of a sponsorship with the sport. This is just the starting point that can be achieved by way of an association. As we know, when the partnership is brought to life in a way that taps into the emotional connection with fans…impact potential rises dramatically.

That said, an eSports partnership may not be the best option for everyone. Here’s a list of the top 5 (and bottom 5) category purchasers that would be impacted by an Esports sponsorship.

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Fact-5-Bottom-5

Purchase Consideration highlights the number of people who will consider purchasing a brand, product or service as a result of it sponsoring a property.

For context, the leading category(fantasy gaming users) represents nearly 2x’s more impact potential than the lowest performing category (casino).

Bringing clarity to decision making

It’s becoming increasingly more difficult to make informed decisions. That said, difficult has never meant impossible. Hopefully the above fact-based consumer insights shed light on the ambiguity surrounding what continues to be a huge topic of discussion…in boardrooms, bars and living rooms around the world.

To uncover more facts about eSports, including consumer insight surrounding specific leagues and teams across 18 countries, log on to SponsorPulse and take advantage of free access to our platform at national level.