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.”
For more information, visit www.ampereanalysis.com.