Esports to Net 474M Viewers in 2021, Report Predicts

(Image credit: Peter Suciu)

LONDON—Esports was seeing a healthy growth in viewers prior to the pandemic, but quarantines and consumers’ need for content has helped spur increased viewership across the globe, and it looks like that growth will continue. In 2021 alone, viewership is expected to rise 20% from its pre-pandemic levels. shared data that projects the global esports audience will grow to 474 million in 2021. Looking further down the road to 2024, it estimates that esports viewership will grow another 20%, reaching 577 million viewers across the globe.

Diving deeper into the statistics, in 2020, 38 million people started watching esports. This brought total global viewership to 435.9 million. A similar pace of growth will get viewership numbers to 474 million by the end of 2021.

These new viewers are becoming big fans of esports. About half of the current audience for esports, 234 million, consider themselves “esports enthusiasts.” By 2025, that number is projected to hit 285.7 million, which would represent a 45% growth over a five-year period. Meanwhile, those considered occasional esports watchers are expected to reach 240 million by the end of 2021 and more than 291 million in 2024, also a 45% growth from pre-pandemic.

Cancellation and event postponements did result in a down year for esports revenue, but only a modest one, as reports that the global esports market generated $950.3 million in 2020, down just 0.8% year-over-year. For 2021, total revenue is expected to jump to more than $1 billion.

Esports sponsorships are the largest portion of that revenue, expected to make $641 million in 2021 (it was $584.1 million in 2020). Media rights are also set to increase, rising from $163.3 million to $192.6 million, a 18% year-over-year jump. Publisher fees are estimated to be $126.6 million and merchandise and ticket revenue is forecasted at $66.6 million.

Digital revenues are the strongest area of growth, though, rising by a CARG of 50% to $32.3 million. Streaming revenues are also set to rise to $25.1 million (up 26%). 

By 2024, projects that esports revenue will be more than $1.6 billion.

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