New data from Juniper Research has found that online eSports services, such as Twitch, will grow to over 310 million by 2020, increasing from 133 million this year and bringing in almost $1 billion in revenues from subscriptions alone. By comparison, 2020 will see eSports audiences surpass the levels of the NFL tournament and approach that of Formula 1:
eSports -102 million global viewers 2014
NFL tournament - 220 million unique viewers in 2014
Formula 1 racing - 400 million global viewers in 2014
An Industry under the Radar
Juniper Research’s latest study, Digital Games: eSports 2015-2020, forecasts that eSports is on the cusp of significant growth, with tournaments and prize pools expanding in size and value; key eSports tournaments such as last year’s League of Legends World Championships final drew in over 27 million viewers.
Advertisers and Broadcasters Expected to Benefit
In particular, advertisers are set to benefit, with revenues forecast to increase by almost 250% from 2015 to 2020. This will mirror an increased willingness by consumers to subscribe to online eSports channels and broadcasters, with subscription revenues reaching almost $1 billion by 2020.
Lauren Foye, report author, said that “An increased audience, as well as greater impact from the most popular eSports broadcasters will see user adoption of the subscription model increase. Consumers will also begin to spend more time viewing eSports content in general, leading to an increase in terms of ad impressions.”
But eSports Needs to Clean up its Act
Additionally the research found that the biggest challenge currently facing eSports is the alleged widespread use of drugs to enhance performance. As a result, the Electronic Sports League (ESL) have recently implemented drugs screening. If eSports is to be seen as a professional sport, then it must be regulated and controlled as such, in order to attract the necessary sponsorships and partnerships to drive growth.