Nielsen has released its first Esports Playbook, 28% think esports should enter Olympics

03 October 2017


Market analyst Nielsen, which studies consumers in more than 100 countries globally, has released its first esports report. 

The Esports Playbook is available here, at no cost, and it offers insights into the company’s findings across the UK, France, Germany and the US. Nielsen looked into behaviours of fans of various esports in these countries. More specifically it investigated how people become esports fans, how often fans engage with esports, what media esports fans consume, how they view traditional sports and what their attitudes toward sponsorship and brand involvement in esports are. 

It also looked at the involvement of types of brands in the space, and calculated that 600 sponsorship agreements have been made since the start of 2016. Of these it was found that there were 360+ ‘IT and Computer’ brands, 100+ retail brands, 60+ from online services, 50+ non-alcoholic drinks and 40+ online media. Furthermore, the report found that the attitude towards brand involvement in esports was the most positive in the US (58%) whilst it was lowest in the UK (51%). Perhaps more notably, across each region analysed, the negative attitude to brands’ involvement to date in esports was recorded as less than 10%. 

Esports 24 is Nielsen’s syndicated sponsorship tracking service for esports tournaments, and it established the top types of brands in esports in the second quarter of 2017. Unsurprisingly, the top ten was dominated by tech companies, but also included fast food and energy drinks. In the more recent past we’ve seen some other brands make an emergence, with Astralis, as part of RFRSH, amongst the leaders in bringing some different, major companies into the space. Astralis alone have established partnerships with Audi, JACK&JONES, and Coco Fuzion in the past year.  

Audi is’t the only car company to move in either; we’ve seen Mercedes-Benz partner with ESL and BMW announced as the Official Partner of the EULCS Finals in August. For these type of non-endemic firms, some of Nielsen’s Esports Playbook 2017 findings should prove relevant. In France, it was found that 31% of esports fans believe non-endemic brand activity is not at all appropriate. This is considerably higher than in the UK (22%), Germany (24%) and the United States (15%). There were of course variances within this dependent on the type of non-endemic business, as can be seen below. 

Moreover, there is hope for wholly non-endemic brands, and those deemed ‘least appropriate’.  The report states: “The onus is ultimately on the individual brand to make a connection with the esports fan. It is this, more than category favorability alone, that will drive the success of an esports sponsorship activation.” In short if a brand comes in, spends money and does something interesting, fun and engaging, it is, of course, far likelier to be better received than a lazy or poorly delivered attempt.

As for an audience snapshot the Playbook puts the proportion of male fans in esports at 71%, which it compares with a 61% male fanbase of sports generally and 59% in football. More specifically on this point, the report found that CS:GO was the title with the highest disparity between male and female fans at 90:10. Dota was at 84:16 whilst League, of the three major esports titles, had the largest female fanbase at 24%.

Below are some further findings as to the views of fans of esports who apparently take a dim view, or perhaps a disinterested view is more accurate, of esports in the Olympics. Only 28% of respondents think it should be an Olympic sport, whilst just over half (53%) consider it an actual sport. A total of 71% think it’ll become a mainstream activity ‘in the near future’. 

Nielsen also makes clear at the end of the playbook that this report is just ‘a small sub-set of the full data set available’. There were a total of 4,000 surveyed for this report, broken down into 1,000 per country surveyed of esports fans aged 13-40.

Check out the full Playbook for yourself here

Esports Insider says: There’ll be plenty more to come from Nielsen and the initial report states it’ll be releasing an analysis of China, Japan and South Korea in Q4 of this year. Brands are likely to find some of this insight useful, especially with the detailed comparisons of fans across these four markets but there’s little doubt that the more interesting comparisons will be drawn once there are data sets from the US, Europe and Asia.