The Incredible Growth of eSports [+eSports Statistics]

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Growth of eSports

Back in the days, the idea of being paid to game sounded like a fantasy. But thanks to the immense growth of the eSports industry, it’s now possible.

From being called time-wasters and fiction hunters, the players in the eSports industry are having the time of their life.

Why? Because the eSports market size is increasing drastically. In 2020 alone, there was $632.9m worth of sponsorships made.

According to Newzoo, the revenue from competitive gaming is set to be just short of the $1.1 billion mark.

Believe it or not, the market size of eSports is growing like no other industry.

According to Grand View Research, the eSports market value size of USD 1.1 billion is expected to grow at a CAGR of 24.4% from 2020 to 2027.

Sports over the years have never witnessed such incredible growth. Even during the pandemic, the development of eSports industry size didn’t throttle.

eSports Viewership is Growing

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Just like the eSports industry, the number of eSports fans is also increasing worldwide.

And how do we know that? It’s because of the eSports streaming statistics provided by the renowned streaming platforms.

Snapback to 2016, around 43 million people watched the final of League of Legends–as compared to 31 million viewers of the 2016 NBA Finals Game 7.

Step into the following year, 2017, a detailed breakdown of the eSports viewer demographics by Newzoo tells us a ton!

Only on Twitch, Leagued of Legends bagged total hours of 87.8 million and 21.2 million as in eSports hours.

While Dota 2 and CS Go ranked second and third with 16.7 million and 9.4 million hours in eSports.

Amazing, Isn’t it?

Hearthstone, Heroes of the Storm, Overwatch, World of Tanks, StarCraft II, Street Fighter V, and Super Smash Bros. Melee ranked respectively in order till 10. With 9.3m, 2.0m, 1.8m, 1.6m, 1.4m, 1.2m, and 0.6 eSports hours.

According to the Newzoo 2017 Report (an eSports streaming statistics research company), the total audience of the eSports industry reached 385 million.

Out of 385 million audiences of eSports in 2017, 194 million were occasional viewers, and 191 million were eSports enthusiasts.

In 2018, Twitch signed a two-year deal (worth USD 90 million) with the Overwatch League. The agreement stated to give Twitch the exclusive rights to broadcast the Overwatch League in English, French and Korean.

The deal went over the roof for the eSports industry and accumulated 85 million hours.

And then came one of the most awaited years, 2019. According to Newzoo, the global eSports market size was valued at USD 1.1 billion in 2019.

The prediction didn’t disappoint!

According to Twitch, In December 2019 only, 1.18 million viewers spent nearly 880 million hours on their platform watching video games and other content.

So the question arrives, how many people watch eSports? According to Statista’s March 2021 report, the audience of eSports was 435.9 million. And in 2019, the tally was 397.8 million.

Last and certainly not least, the global eSports fans will grow to 474 million by the end of 2021, according to Newzoo.

eSports Awareness is Increasing

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eSports awareness is increasing drastically and for good reasons.

But do you want to know the real reason behind it? It’s because the gaming culture is finally getting attention.

Back in the day, people used to game for killing the time. But today, the dynamics have changed.

Since 2015, there’s a sudden shoot in the eSports industry. Investors, tech companies, game developers have started to take eSports seriously.

Competitive gaming is now being recognized by the top companies like Intel, Blizzard, AMD, Microsoft, etc.

In 2015, only around 800,000 people knew about the eSports industry. But after that, numbers started rolling in a positive direction.

According to a report by Newzoo in 2016, eSports awareness stepped near the 1 billion mark.

After that, in 2017, the awareness rose to 1.28 billion, and it reached about 1.43 billion by 2018.

In 2019, the global awareness of eSports was 1.8 billion. And the global awareness of eSports in 2020 crossed the 2 billion mark.

Today, the world is watching eSports worldwide. People are taking part in the competitions more than ever.

Even third-world countries are also making it to the top stage of eSports. Hidden gems are being discovered by the eSports industry.

Take Arsalan Ash, the undisputed king of Tekken 7, from Pakistan. After Arsalah Ash, the world figured out that an empire of underground Tekken scene has been living in Pakistan for decades.

As the awareness of eSports is increasing, the platforms offering live eSports coverage are also rising—more on that in the next section.

The Rise of Platforms Offering Live eSports Coverage

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Live eSports coverage platforms have played a big part in the eSports industry’s phenomenal growth.

eSports fans use the live eSports coverage platforms to watch their favorite competitions, leagues, and tournaments.

Without the live-streaming platforms, there would be no common ground for eSports fans.

With just a few clicks, the eSports audience can tune into their favorite tournament and join in the fun with million others.

Not everyone can join the tournament in person and especially in the pandemic, the dynamics of the audience have changed. Giving more strength and power to the live eSports coverage platforms like Twitch and Youtube.

Before the eSports industry got the mainstream attention, only a few live-stream platforms were holding up well. Out of those platforms is Twitch, which pulls an average of 30 million viewers every day and 7 million unique streamers in each month.

With the rapid growth of the eSports industry, the rise of eSports live coverage platforms was inevitable.

People not only started using the live eSports coverage platform for watching eSports tournaments. But for following their favorite personalities due to their lifestyle, online presence, etc.

According to the Streamlabs Q3 2020 report, Twitch has a market share of 91.1% for hours streamed. And that’s because the Microsoft streaming platform, Mixer, got shut down.

However, Facebook Gaming and YouTube Gaming didn’t score any advantage after the closing down of Mixer.

After the COVID-19 pandemic, many competitions either got canceled or postponed. But the majority switched to online. And that hugely aided the rise of platforms offering live eSports coverage.

On Twitch, people watched 660 billion minutes worth of content in 2019. But in 2020, the figure increased to 889 billion minutes.

That’s not it. The count of concurrent live channels in 2019 on Twitch was 49,500 on average. But in 2020, the count increased 69%, with 83,900 average concurrent channels on Twitch.

With all the data in our hands, it’s safe to say that the rise of platforms offering live eSports coverage is only going to get big with time.

People Are Spending More Time Watching eSports

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It’s not just you who’s spending more time watching eSports; everyone is doing so around the world.

According to Roundhill Investments, the total viewership of eSports was 134 million. In today 2018, the stat had grown to 395 million. Resulting in a 195% increase in the viewership between 2012 and 2018.

In 2020, the League of Legends World Championships brought a record-breaking 139 million hours in viewership. And it peaked at 3.8 million viewers.

According to Streamlabs Q3 2020, PUBG Mobile World League completed the milestone of 33,179,000 hours watched. And the League of Legends European Championship stacked 28,957,234 hours watch count.

According to a recent report released by Newzoo, League of Legends and CS GO bagged 31.8 million and 21.3 million eSports hours watched count in March 2021 on Twitch.

With all that being said, it’s quite predictable that with the growth of eSports, people are also investing more of their time in it.

Whether it’s China or the popular parts of Europe, people in every part of the world are contributing to eye-opening online sports statistics.  

eSports Revenue Growth and How Brands are Contributing to It

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According to the 2017 Newzoo report, the total eSports revenue was divided into five parts.

Sponsorship with 38% of the share, Advertising coming at second with 22%, and Game Publisher Fees, Media Rights, and Tickets/Merchandise with 17%, 14%, and 9% shares in the revenue bowl.

The most significant driver, Sponsorship, with 38% of the share, generated $266.3 million in 2017. And advertising during eSports matches generated about $155.3 million. 

Little do advertising brands knew in 2017 that the media rights would hit 728.8 million in 2021, as reported by Newzoo 2021 Global eSports & Live Streaming Market report.

An average eSports revenue growth per year was about 30% until 2018. But after that point, the year-to-year growth decreased in 2019 and landed at a 23.3% mark.

In 2020, the year-on-year growth decreased even more, with only 15.7% up from 2020. But keeping in mind the COVID-19 pandemic crisis, the revenue growth is relatively stable.

According to the Newzoo 2021 Global eSports & Live Streaming Market report, the revenues will grow to $1,084 million in 2021. Year-on-year growth of 14.5% up from the previous year.

Sponsorship is offering the brands a chance to reach their preferred audience directly. And as they are one of the biggest sectors contributing to eSports revenue, they are using creative methods to target millions of eSports fans.

Brands like Intel and Nvidia partner up with teams and leagues to make their brand recognizable and bring more money into the eSports industry. 

Non-endemic brands are also contributing greatly to the cause. Tinder, Vivo, McDonald’s Corporation, Mercedes Benz, etc., are the key sponsors of the eSports revenue model.

For instance, RedBull is one of the most influential brands in the eSports segment. It’s using its reputation and earning money from various competitions. eSports fans buy RedBull products and cheer the teams sponsored by RedBull.

Apart from that, till now, Red Bull eSports players have earned a total of $590,747 from 19 tournaments.

And just like that, other brands are also hugely contributing as sponsors, advertisers, or as owners of media rights to pump up the market size of eSports.

Visible Growth in eSports Tournaments

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Just like the overall eSports industry, we have seen quite a growth in eSports tournaments.

Back in 2015, the total prize money of eSports tournaments was $$67,013,800.26. In the very next year, it increased to $98,033,383.00.

In 2017 and 2018, the total prize money of eSports tournaments were $116,417,832.34 and $164,869,294.89 respectively.

In 2019, the total prize money almost doubled and got around $235,645,529.77. But after that, due to COVID-19, the growth of eSports tournaments in terms of growth and total prize money decreased.

In the year 2020, only 4,226 tournaments happened compared to 5,441 of the previous year’s. And the total prize money of 2020 eSports tournaments was only $116,032,637.22 as compared to last year’s $235,645,529.77.

We are in the fourth month of 2021, and till now, 800 tournaments have generated $29,956,214.56. There are 6373 total active players, and the median tournament prize pool is $1,000.,


Large-scale COVID-19 pandemic effects are still intercepting the real growth of eSports. However, with COVID-19, the live-streaming trend of eSports has shown us a new path to increase the growth of eSports.

Indeed, we are all missing the crowded stadiums of the CSGO finals and Tekken championships. But comparing the scenario of eSports from 2016, we have come a long way down the road.

And if it weren’t for the COVID-19 pandemic, the years 2020 and 2021 would have been turned out genuinely beneficial for the growth of eSports.

The world has seen the miracles of the eSports culture. And that’s why the boost of eSports growth is inevitably due on the era of post-pandemic.