Game On: The Evolution of Mainstream Sports & eSports

eSports Industry’s Performance Against Traditional Sports

Evolving by every bit in the last decade, eSports has transitioned from being a mere subculture to becoming a multi-billion-dollar mainstream industry.

The kind of growth that the industry has seen over the years has been phenomenal, and with big names like Amazon and Google fighting hard for a share of this pie, the deserts that are yet to be explored in this domain look pretty green.

The growth also resulted in the birth of eSports betting, which is offered by all the major online gaming platforms like, for example.

Sporting as many similarities as it draws its big part of comparison from, e-Sports is as often as not pitted against traditional sports. But how does it fare when viewership, future lanes of market activity, or avenues of monetization are measured objectively?


Sports vs eSports: Leveling The Playing Field?

eSports serves as a broad category encompassing competitive gaming on electronic platforms, typically involving professional video gamers. Their inception dates back to 1972.

In the past four years, the audience in the age range of 16 to 24 has surged by a staggering 60%, propelling the rapid expansion of this burgeoning industry. Projections indicate that the global audience will reach 276 million by 2022, and intriguingly, certain League of Legends tournaments often outshine some of the most prominent U.S. leagues in terms of viewership:


Accumulated Viewership (2017 finals):


  • NFL Super Bowl: 124 million viewers;
  • League of Legends: 58 million viewers;
  • MLB World Series: 38 million viewers;
  • NBA Finals: 32 million viewers;
  • NHL Stanley Cup Finals: 11 million viewers.


While in some cases the gaming viewership may go higher than the already established professional leagues, it has not quite matched the monetization levels of the more established ones. However, this particular aspect is today on the rise and being perceived as a major threat to the more established sports leagues.


The Market Value?

The emergence of COVID-19 brought about a transformation in the landscape of eSports. It blurred the existing boundaries between live streaming and influencer marketing. The pandemic resulted in a surge in viewership across various live-streaming platforms as individuals found themselves confined to their homes during lockdowns, seeking entertainment through live streams.

Despite encountering obstacles, the industry also experienced significant expansion during this period, venturing into markets that had previously shown minimal activity. Nonetheless, the cancellation of numerous in-person events and the substitution of international competitions with regional contests posed challenges to the industry.

Goldman Sachs estimates the eSports market was over $1 billion in revenue for 2019 and is expected to get to nearly $2 billion by the end of 2023.

The newly found industry is a foundation of a number of other opportunities, such as live-streaming, game development, player fan-building, and attracting brands to invest in sponsorship and advertising which currently makes up 82% of its revenue.

Competitive gaming has good audience numbers but can improve on monetization areas. However, there is a big opportunity because total revenue is expected to compound at 35% annually between 2017 and 2023.


Attracting Attention from Global Giants

The success of online gaming tournaments can be attributed to the beginning of live-streaming platforms. Streaming platforms have played an instrumental role in catalyzing the ascent of e-Sports. With their user-friendly interfaces and accessible content, these platforms have provided a global stage for competitive gaming, allowing fans to watch their favourite players and teams from the comfort of their screens.

The interactivity and engagement features on these platforms have transformed passive viewers into active participants, fostering a vibrant community around esports. Furthermore, the pandemic-induced surge in online activity saw streaming platforms as a refuge for entertainment, further boosting the exposure and popularity of gaming.

When Amazon purchased the dominant video-streaming site, Twitch they paved the way for an opening of the growing audience base in competitive gaming as well as new opportunities for live streaming available within various verticals. Since then viewership has gone through the roof and reached 15 million on average – more than half of YouTube’s daily viewership.

Meanwhile, Google, who had lost out in the bidding war for Twitch, has recently made a significant foray into the gaming arena with its cloud gaming service, Google Stadia. The ultimate goal is to retain live-streamers on YouTube rather than having them gravitate towards competing platforms.


Final Thoughts

In the coming years, eSports is poised to tap into increasingly substantial advertising budgets, expanding its influence to national, regional, and global levels, akin to the trajectory of traditional sports. Additionally, the inclusion of eSports as a medal event in the 2022 Asian Games may serve as a stepping stone toward achieving full Olympic recognition.

Collectively, the gaming industry is emerging as a formidable contender in the world of sports and entertainment. With its widespread global appeal, fervent fan base, and billion-dollar revenues, the sector is only embarking on its upward trajectory.

Nevertheless, the ongoing discourse does not revolve solely around the competition between eSports and conventional sports. Rather, it centres on the transition toward celebrating a virtual culture over a physical one, a shift that carries profound implications.

Do Not Sell My Personal Information