US esports ad revenues will grow 25% in 2019

Thursday, March 14th, 2019
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Will cross $200 million by 2020

NEW YORK, NY — Competitive video gaming is a rapidly growing, multibillion-dollar industry, presenting new opportunities for marketers to reach and engage with fans. Esports ad revenues are poised to surpass $200 million by next year, according to eMarketer’s first forecast on esports and gaming revenues.

eMarketer defines esports as organized gaming competitions among professional players and teams. Esports digital ad revenues in the US will grow 25% to $178.1 million* this year. There are multiple revenue streams connected to esports, including advertising, sponsorships, media rights, ticket sales to live events and merchandising.

“Esports was once an under-the-radar activity for enthusiasts of multiplayer online games,” said eMarketer principal analyst Paul Verna. “Just a few years later, it’s a multimillion-dollar business in the US, with implications for game developers, players, leagues, teams, live venues, streaming platforms, TV networks, audiences and marketers.”

Audiences for esports are large and growing. This year, 30.3 million people in the US will watch an esports event at least once a month, up more than 18% over last year. We expect esports viewers to grow by more than 50% between now and 2023, reaching 46.2 million at that time.

Esports executives consistently cite YouTube and Twitch as the leading platforms for esports viewing in the US.

“Esports fans have unique characteristics that make them more elusive but potentially more lucrative for marketers,” Verna said. “They are typically young, TV-averse millennials who have higher-than-average disposable income. They are open to marketing messages that are embedded in the esports experience, whether those are sponsorships, branded videos, in-game integrations, influencer-driven endorsements or even traditional ads.”

Esports age demographics vary by game, league and tournament, but millennials are among the most active members of the viewing population.

* includes advertising and sponsorship revenues from organized esports competitions (e.g., Evolution Championship Series, League of Legends Championship Series and Overwatch League) hosted on digital platforms; excludes revenues from esports competitions hosted on linear TV


eMarketer’s forecasts and estimates are based on an analysis of quantitative and qualitative data from research firms, government agencies, media firms and public companies, plus interviews with top executives at publishers, ad buyers and agencies. Data is weighted based on methodology and soundness. Each eMarketer forecast fits within the larger matrix of all its forecasts, with the same assumptions and general framework used to project figures in a wide variety of areas. Regular re-evaluation of available data means the forecasts reflect the latest business developments, technology trends and economic changes.