A new study from Juniper Research forecasts that unique viewers of eSports (competitive playing of video games) and “Let’s Play” content (tutorials and talk-throughs of game content) will reach 858 million by 2022, up from 630 million this year. This will equate to 1 in 10 of the global population by 2022.
The new research found that growth in viewership will be driven by a surge in the popularity of Battle Royale titles, where dozens of players face-off in a “last man standing” format. Titles including PlayerUnknown’s BattleGrounds and Fortnite encompass new audiences, introducing a more diverse demographic to eSports content.
With $100 million in prize money for Fortnite tournaments in 2018, Juniper anticipates substantial growth in “Let’s Play” viewership — exceeding 12 billion hours on YouTube alone — as players seek to hone their skills.
The research found that eSports tournaments are to use new funding strategies. In particular, prize pools will see a greater integration of loot boxes and content giveaways as a monetisation strategy. Loot boxes are purchasable packs containing a random selection of in-game items. Research author Lauren Foye explained:
“Loot boxes play upon gamers’ desire to have the most prestigious and sought-after items, whether these be weapons or cosmetic goods. By offering these as time-limited content during popular events, tournament hosts will be able to drive substantial funding and interest from players”.
While eSports advertising has been the mainstay of endemic brands including Intel and Nvidia, non-endemic brands will increasingly sponsor major tournaments and streaming events, with advertising revenues forecast to reach $2.2 billion by 2022.
Brands will seek celebrity endorsements of gaming events due to recent success with live streams featuring rapper Drake and popular Twitch streamer Ninja, watched by 628,000 viewers on Twitch, as well as Tottenham Hotspur player Dele Alli, who achieved 25,000 views.