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Double The Esports Audience? European Conference Forecasts Industry Growth

esports audience forecast

The 2017 European Esports Conference (eSCon) is taking place in London on April 5 and April 6. In advance, as part of the conference brief, the organizers released an esports report prepared by SuperData.

The SuperData report is available here.

The report forecasts that the global esports audience will grow from its 2015 base of 188 million to 330 million in 2019. 2017 should see audience growth of at least 21 percent to produce 258 million viewers.

The Newzoo report released last week forecast audience growth from a 2015 figure of 235 million to a 2020 estimate of 589 million. The baseline figures may differ, but both research reports show the audience size more than doubling over the next few years.

A light version of the Newzoo report is available here.

Baseline audience figures for esports are not simple to compile. SuperData uses data obtained directly from publishers and developers together with spending data on 87,246,158 gamers to estimate its figures.

Revenue figures from SuperData include esports betting

SuperData estimates that esports betting and fantasy sites will generate revenues of $52 million in 2017. That represents approximately 5 percent of the total industry market size of $1.13 billion.

Newzoo excluded betting revenues from its forecasts to estimate a 2017 market size of $1.5 billion for its baseline scenario.

The difference between the Newzoo figures and the SuperData figures exemplifies how difficult it is to know exactly where this market is going.

The one thing both reports agree on absolutely is that growth will be well into double digits.

League of Legends is the top esports title

SuperData puts the spotlight on League of Legends (LoL) as the world’s most popular game. But it suggests that its regular 100 million audience is at risk.

The success of LoL is ascribed to the tight control that developer Riot Games exercises over the game’s “professional ecosystem.”

SuperData notes that Riot “directly regulates five regional leagues” with “top-notch” production values, and full time commentators and video producers.

However, the report suggests that this direct control “limits the size of the League of Legends eSports audience and talent pool.”

Tournaments run by third parties such as ESL are consequently “viewed as second tier” and attract fewer viewers. Lacking the necessary breadth, SuperData suggests that this limits the opportunities for less skilled teams to make a living from prize money.

Overwatch is poised to be the next big esport

The second game SuperData reports on is Overwatch from Blizzard. The authors point to the extremely fast growth rate that the game has achieved since its launch in 2016, producing revenues of $767 million.

SuperData reports that temporarily Overwatch overtook LoL as the “most-played game in Korean internet cafés.”

Plans for an Overwatch league in 2017 will provide the infrastructure for Overwatch to compete with CS:GO and LoL.

eSCon aims to throw light on the uncertainty

eSCon provides an opportunity to get industry players together to share information and ideas on a wide range of subjects.

By getting together, industry participants can better understand why there are variations in forecasts for the future of esports, and what different strategies are succeeding in the various areas of the industry.

The conference key themes are:

  • Branding in eSports: What Works, and What Doesn’t
  • Grassroots Growth: A Sustainable System
  • Power Shifts: Toppling Ivory Towers and the Rise of Equity
  • Government Action: Visas, Tax Savings and eSports Courses
  • Reaching the Masses: New Directions in eSports Broadcasting
  • Re-Writing the Creative Process
  • Traditional Sport: The Give and The Take
  • eSports: You Can Bet On It
  • Talent Management: Secrets from Agents

Speakers include:

  • Moritz Maurer: Head of eSports Integrity Genius Sports
  • Pieter van den Heuvel: Head of Product Development – Esports Newzoo
  • Tom Halls: Chief Digital Officer NRG eSports
  • Chester King: CEO British eSports Association
  • Hicham Chahine: CEO Ninjas in Pyjamas (NiP)
  • Alexander Müller: Managing Director SK Gaming
  • Mathieu Lacrouts: CEO Hurrah
  • Chris Hana: CEO The eSports Observer
  • Veronique Lallier: General Manager Europe Hi-Rez Studios
  • Ellie Reed: Director and Head of eSports M&C Saatchi Sports & Entertainment
  • Michelle Attisani: Co-Founder FACEIT
  • James Dean: Co-Managing Director ESL UK

Discount for ESBR readers

Readers interested in signing up for the eSCon can find more information here.

Use code EBR15 to receive a 15 percent discount from the published ticket price.

Image credit:  adamziaja.com / Shutterstock.com

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Joss Wood
- Former editor of Poker Industry Pro, gambling industry expert focused on legal online gambling and sports betting issues. For ESBR, Joss spotlights the intersection of the burgeoning esports industry with that of gambling.