Esports is at a stage where many different industry sectors are now looking for a piece of the action. Understanding the market is one of the highest hurdles to be overcome before making an investment, and for esports, the market demographics may not match preconceived ideas.
Mindshare’s explanation of the esports market strikes a similar level of dissonance.
It turns out that esports fans are not typically impoverished male students living in debt and on subsidies from their parents:
Mark Potts, head of insights at Mindshare NA commented:
“Forget the stereotypes—your typical eSports fan isn’t just someone playing World of Warcraft in his mother’s basement. The eSports community is varied and evolving, ranging across audiences of working professionals, parents and more. It’s important for marketers to understand the nuances and differences in fans based on different eSports games, platforms and experiences.”
Not only are esports fans passionate about their hobby, the level of passion appears to increase with income, and they are happy to spend on their entertainment:
Celebrity players and a desire to improve their own skills provide strong motivation to watch esports.
More than two thirds of the survey respondents said they have made new friends or acquaintances through playing and watching esports. An impressive 79 percent of those earning over $100,000 have done so.
Of fans who enjoy watching esports via their video game console, 51 percent like to watch with friends/family physically in the same room; that number increases to 58 percent among female fans.
Those who watch on YouTube also enjoy doing so with other people, although the numbers are slightly lower at 45 percent overall and 49 percent for female fans.
Mindshare also asked a range of questions about “what they’d like to see brands do to help improve the gaming experience.” The results were instructive, if not terribly surprising: “57 percent of eSports fans are willing to pay money not to see ads while watching a game—and for those with an HHI of $100,000 or higher, that percentage jumps to 78 percent.”
While that piece of information is a useful guide to marketers, it doesn’t mean that advertisements should not be used at all. Mindshare suggests that a better way of reaching the customer is to integrate branding into the broadcasts so that it is more “authentic.”
While 42 percent said they liked “free stuff (ex: tournament tickets, computer hardware, t-shirts and hats),” marketers may have more success offering alternative benefits. Mindshare suggests:
Joshua Spiegelman, managing director of Mindshare Spotlight, summarised the esports opportunity for marketers:
“This passion point has an audience of incredibly engaged fans, many of which (for millennials and gen Z in particular) can be challenging to reach through traditional media channels. In addition, given eSports is still in its infancy relative to more established ‘stick and ball’ sports, there’s a lower cost of entry to engage in meaningful partnerships, collaborate with talent to create contextually relevant campaigns, and dominate share of voice.”
For betting operators looking to attract business from esports fans, the fact that fans are so engaged in their sport is reassuring.
As Arthur N. Manteris, vice president of race and sports operations at Station Casinos, said at the recent Nevada Gaming Policy Meeting: “Gamblers make viewers, and viewers make gamblers.”
The fact that they have plenty of disposable income makes the market even more attractive.
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