The video gaming market or, rather, the eSports market, is growing faster than ever before, both by the number of players and the increasing viewership by fans who tune in to catch up on the games played by top video gamers.
Unlike what some people had projected, the popularity of video game viewership isn’t just a passing storm. According to Statista, by 2023, it is expected that global viewership of eSports will hit 300 million, an exponential surge from 2018 when the number of frequent eSports viewers was at 173 million.
Should this growth continue, there are a lot of questions that have come up, one of them being: is there a chance that the number of viewers will surpass that of television watchers? To assess the possibility of this, let’s dive deep into the subject to look at the factors that contribute to the tremendous growth of video game watchers and what it means for TV as we know it today.
The Generation Gap is Closing
One of the biggest drivers of growth for the video gaming industry is the evolving market demographic. Like the best online slots, for example, gone are the days when casino games were thought to be a pastime for older generations over 40 years. These days, younger players between the age of 21 and 35 years have become so important to the gaming industry that software developers look for means to attract them and keep them coming back for more.
If you browse through the online casino GGBet lobby or any other reputable online casino platform, you’ll notice that a lot of games come with fun elements that borrow from popular culture to entice younger players. This is especially the case with slot machines.
The same goes for the video gaming world. Unlike, say, a decade ago, video games are no longer being played by toddlers and teenagers alone. Young adults and older generations are also quickly catching on, and it’s becoming a favorite pastime for many, with others going as far as making a full-time career out of it.
Popularity in Europe and the Americas
Right now, over 50% of frequent video game watchers come from the Asia Pacific, whereas only 12% come from North America. However, the popularity of eSports in Europe and the Americas is growing bigger. Based on a report from Statista, in 2018, video game viewers in the USA were about 26 million, and the number is expected to increase to over 46 million. As eSports awareness in Europe and the Americas increases, analysts expect the industry to expand further in the next decade.
eSports vs. Traditional Sports Viewership
In 2018, the number of unique viewers of the “League of Legends” World Championship finals event, which was held in South Korea in November, was higher than that of the Super Bowl LII event held in the same year. While the Super Bowl LII had about 98 million viewers, the LoL World Championship recorded nearly 100 million unique viewers.
But then, this doesn’t automatically spell doom for traditional sports, given that right now, American Football isn’t even among the top ten most popular sports when you look at the fanbase. Soccer continues to be the most popular sport across the globe, with a fan base of about 4 billion, followed by cricket with roughly 2.5 billion fans worldwide.
You can’t compare that with eSports even per the projected 2023 numbers expected to be at 300 million frequent viewers and 351 million occasional viewers – bringing the combined total to 651 million. Essentially, this means that while eSports has potential, it is still nowhere near traditional sports watched on TV.
The Future of eSports
Whatever the case, we can all agree that the video gaming world is being embraced by viewers of all generations, and the industry is growing faster than most of us had anticipated. A lot of countries are already giving eSports official recognition as a sport, a trend that South Korea, China, Finland and South Africa started. More countries like Russia, Denmark, Italy, Ukraine and Nepal recently jumped into the bandwagon of acknowledging video gaming as a sport as well, and the trend is catching on to countries like Pakistan in 2021.
Such moves will boost the growth, popularity and adoption of eSports as advancing technology also continues to play its critical role. Advancements from the mobile gaming world, for instance, have already ensured that over 2.7 billion people worldwide use smartphones. Moreover, 5G has already started its rollout, and it is expected to be the standard range of internet connectivity in the coming years, meaning that it will be so much easier to stream video gaming content.
If you factor in the financial investments that are being pumped into the leagues each year as well, then for sure, video gaming has a ton of potential. For now, however, it is too early to tell whether the number of video game watchers will surpass TV watchers. Only time will tell.