Esports Advertising: The Next Big Frontier

Esports is becoming a gold mine for companies looking to expand into new spaces, according to a report released by the Video Advertising Bureau.

According to the report, 23% of esports fans have just started following the scene sometime between 2017 and 2018. Despite this late push, esports is boasting as much revenue as the UFC, another niche sporting event with a close-knit and rabid fanbase. In fact, revenues are currently on an exponential growth trajectory, expected to grow over 67% between 2019 and 2022. As of 2019, nearly fifty percent of all esports revenues come from sponsorships.


Sponsorships are King

These sponsorships are worth their weight in gold for the sponsors. Why? Simply put, esports have an unrivaled ability to reach a very difficult-to-reach demographic: millennial males. Males, especially millennials, are nigh impossible to reach through traditional advertising. This makes esports, which boasts viewers that are not only 65% millennial but also 62% male, a fantastic opportunity to reach this demographic.

These aren’t just “failure to launch” kids in their parent’s basement, either. According to the report, almost 43% of this demographic make more than 75 thousand dollars a year. Esports is no longer the realm of a few; its viewers are older and more successful than the average person might think. Even more surprising is that 58% of these male viewers are living with their own children. To put it simply, esports viewers are growing up, and they have money to spend. This makes this space fantastic for products and companies that are willing to expand into the space.


 Fans actually have a positive attitude towards ESPORTS advertising

Despite being part of a generation that would rather cut the cord to avoid watching commercials, esports fans have an oddly positive outlook on esports advertisers as a whole. Interestingly, 43% of esports viewers are aware of the brands used in the games and events that they follow. This could include peripheral providers, including keyboard, mouse, and monitor manufacturers. Esports fans don’t stop at simple brand awareness, however.

Because of the inseparable relationships between esports teams and their sponsors (peripheral and jersey branding, for example), more than a third of esports fans are more willing to try a brand they are unfamiliar with if that brand sponsors their favorite team. Taken a step further, 30% of fans believe a product is better than others if their team or favorite player highlights it. Additionally, 29% say that they will buy a brand that is used by their favorite team.


Esports is also invading traditional programming

A few years ago, social media dominated the time spent per month. Now, however, male Twitch viewers between the ages of 18 and 34 spend more time consuming esports content than they spend on Snapchat, Instagram, or Twitter. Broadcast networks are taking notice. Over eleven TV networks, like TNT and ESPN, are now airing esports leagues and tournaments. In fact, the number of hours of esports on traditional television jumped 46% from the ’16-’17 season to the ’17-’18 season. This provides a new advertising avenue to reach the aforementioned demographic. Interestingly, the median age of the esports TV viewer is almost six years older (32 years. vs. 26 years.) than those that exclusively watch tournaments online.

The crossover between esports and traditional, television-based sports programming factors in as well. Almost 70% of esports fans are also fans of American football, while 57% report also following basketball. Additionally, 39% of esports viewers report also watching soccer and boxing. The competitive nature of these both esports translates quite well from the similar competition found in traditional sports.


Esports gives Advertisers a Nontraditional avenue of reach

Esports provides a novel way for advertisers to reach consumers simply due to the way esports are structured. While esports fans watch competitive leagues and tournaments, most actually play the games they watch as well. The overlap between esports viewers and gamers is much larger than those that watch professional football and actually play the sport. Due to this unique overlap, advertisers can increase their reach by placing products and opportunities in the game itself. Per the report, 34% of responses indicate that esports viewers would like advertisers “to provide customized in-game items.” These could be alternate appearances for characters or sponsored in-game events. Additionally, 41% say that they would like sponsors and advertisers to demo new games and playing spaces for their favorite competitive games.

Overall, esports is continuing to grow and provide a unique environment for advertisers to grow their brand. Through sponsorships of teams and players and providing exclusive insights and content to viewers coupled with the unparalleled advertising engagement exhibited by esports viewers, esports is a fantastic avenue for brand growth.