China Leads ESports Viewing Habits, Per Ampere

LONDON—If watching eSports was an Olympic event, China would be racking up gold medals. A new report from Ampere Analysis found that among China’s internet users, 26% are watching eSports at least once a month, which is significantly more than Western countries.

The leader in eSports viewing among Western countries is Denmark, which has 9% of its internet viewers watching eSports on a monthly basis. Sweden, the U.K. and France follow, with the U.S. just behind them at about 6%.

The big draw for eSports audiences, according to Ampere, has been high profile global tournaments. The 2019 Fortnite World Cup drew 20 million global viewers on Twitch; the FIFA 2019 eWorld Cup garnered 50 million global viewers across all platforms. China’s highest-watched eSports event was the League of Legends 2018 World Championship, which had an audience of 203 million in the country, compared to 2 million throughout the rest of the world.

The audience for eSports appears to growing among demographics, as Ampere’s study indicates. While the main demographic fo eSports is still males 18-34, females now make up 35% of viewers, while 40% are over 35 and 33% live with young children. China in particular is pretty well balanced, as 43% of its viewers are female.

As far as how viewers are watching eSports, Amazon’s Twitch platform is the most popular service among North American and European viewers, at about 65% usage among monthly viewers. YouTube trails with under 40%. Twitch has been able to build its popularity by hosting a variety of channels and having deals for third-party streaming rights for events.

“The rise of eSports viewing on a global scale presents a potentially lucrative opportunity for new and existing players,” said Hazel Ford, analyst at Ampere. “Platforms such as Twitch and YouTube are currently market leaders but face growing competition from a number of newcomers, including the developers themselves. As with the traditional sports world, exclusive rights deals will become crucial for platforms looking to control high growth eSports audiences.”

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