Online e-sports services, such as Twitch, will grow to over 310-million by 2020, increasing from 133-million this year and bringing in almost $1-billion in revenues from subscriptions alone.
This is according to new data from Juniper Research, which adds that 2020 will see e-sports audiences surpass the levels of the NFL tournament and approach that of Formula 1, E-sports had 102-million global viewers 2014 while the NFL tournament had 220-million unique viewers and Formula 1 racing had 400-million global viewers.
Juniper Research’s latest study, “Digital Games: E-sports 2015-2020, forecasts that e-sports is on the cusp of significant growth, with tournaments and prize pools expanding in size and value; key e-sports tournaments such as last year’s League of Legends World Championships final drew in over 27-million viewers.
Advertisers, in particular, are set to benefit, with revenues forecast to increase by almost 250% from 2015 to 2020. This will mirror an increased willingness by consumers to subscribe to online eSports channels and broadcasters, with subscription revenues reaching almost $1-billion by 2020.
Lauren Foye, report author, comments: “An increased audience, as well as greater impact from the most popular eSports broadcasters will see user adoption of the subscription model increase. Consumers will also begin to spend more time viewing eSports content in general, leading to an increase in terms of ad impressions.”
The research also found that the biggest challenge currently facing e-sports is the alleged widespread use of drugs to enhance performance. As a result, the Electronic Sports League (ESL) have recently implemented drugs screening. If e-sports is to be seen as a professional sport, then it must be regulated and controlled as such, in order to attract the necessary sponsorships and partnerships to drive growth.