Newzoo latest: Global esports revenues up 38% year on year

21 February 2018


The latest report and market assessment on esports from Newzoo has hit the shelves today. 

The headline figure is that global revenues for 2018 are predicted to hit $906m (£650.7m), which is a serious increase of 38% year on year. This is anticipated to climb to $1.65bn (£1.18bn) by 2021. 

For those who care to read beneath the headlines, the key takeaway is that a whopping 56% of these revenues are from China and North America, with these regions alone predicted to generate $506m (£363.4m). Of these North America is unsurprisingly the larger of the two, accounting for $345m (£247.8m). 

Have you ever wondered how many ‘esports enthusiasts’ there are? Newzoo estimates that by the end of 2018 there’ll be 165 million of them worldwide, which is 15.2% more such enthusiasts than planet earth had last year. It also estimates that by 2021 there’ll be 250 million of them.

There is of course a far larger esports audience; that’ll reach 380 million this year and that’s up 13.5% from 2017. But how do you define an ‘esports enthusiast’? Is it whether they can name the past five TI winners and recite every title in which Fnatic currently maintain a roster? Not quite. Esports enthusiasts are defined as ‘people who watch professional esports content more than once a month’. Occasional viewers are ‘people who watch professional esports content less than once a month’, whilst the esports audience is these two combined.

The report also states that their definition of ‘esports enthusiast’ has changed. Previously it also included people who ‘actively compete in amateur online competitive gaming leagues or tournaments, such as ESL Play, Toornament, and FACEIT’.  But, Newzoo noted that ‘a meaningful number’ of these highly engaged competitive gamers don’t follow pro esports as viewers and so changed tact this time around to ‘provide a sharper focus’. 

Newzoo also looks at the important question of how much these enthusiasts are worth. The ‘global average annual revenue per Esports Enthusiast’ will be $5.49 this year. Following in tandem with the across stats, this is also up from 2017 when it was a mere $4.58 meaning this has seen a 20% increase.

Brands are expected to invest $694m (£498.5m) in the esports industry, which is 77% of the total market. This is expected to continue on its upward growth trajectory and reach $1.4 billion by 2021, which’ll representing 84% of total esports revenues.

Any guesses on the amount of major esports events in 2017? Newzoo calculated a total of 588 which generated $59m (£42.3m) in ticket revenues, up from $32m (£22.9m) in 2016.

Newzoo CEO, Peter Warman stated: “As a consumer phenomenon, esports continues to grow its huge base of passionate fans across the globe. As a business, esports is now entering a new and critical phase towards maturity. Big investments have been made, new league structures have been launched, sponsorship budgets have moved from experimental to continuous, and international media rights trade is starting to heat up. At the same time, player salaries have soared and the esports ecosystem and viewership hours still very much rely on a select number of globally operating teams and game franchises. Profitability and return on investment is, for many organizations at the heart of the esports economy, a challenge.

He continued: “An industry survey performed by Newzoo late last year found that the majority of respondents from teams expect esports to take another five to 10 years to mature fully as a business. The same research showed that brands and agencies expect the ecosystem to be fully professionalized in three to five years. This illustrates the current status of the market: great expectations from outside and more conservative views from people within. This year will be pivotal in determining the pace at which esports becomes the global multi-billion-dollar business we all envisage. This year, we anticipate global esports sponsorship and advertising revenues to surpass half a billion dollars. Considering the media exposure esports has created, this is still a relatively small amount.”

Key takeaways from the report

  • Global esports revenues will reach $906 million in 2018, a year-on-year growth of +38.2%. By 2021 this is predicted to hit $1.65bn
  •  Brands will invest $694 million in the esports industry, 77% of the total market. This will grow to $1.4 billion by 2021, representing 84% of total esports revenues.
  •  The number of Esports Enthusiasts worldwide will reach 165 million in 2018, a year-on-year growth of +15.2%. This is expected to reach 250 million by 2021. The total Esports Audience will reach 380 million this year, a year-on-year growth of +13.5%. This is expected to reach 557 million by 2021. 
  • The global average annual revenue per Esports Enthusiast will be $5.49 this year. This is up by 20% from $4.58 in 2017.
  • In 2017, there were 588 major esports events that generated an estimated $59 million in ticket revenues, up from $32 million in 2016.
  • The total prize money of all esports events held in 2017 reached $112 million, breaking the $100 million mark for the first year.
  • The League of Legends World Championship was the most watched event on Twitch in 2017 with 49.5 million hours. It also generated $5.5 million in ticket revenues.

Any interested data hungry readers can get their mitts on a free light version of the report by clicking here

Esports Insider says: More esports industry insight from Newzoo, who state that in 2018 they’ll carry out research in over 28 countries and cover over 60,000 consumers. A number of points made here are worth exploring in considerably more depth, and stay tuned as we aim to do just that. Across the board though there’s seemingly much cause for excitement, and if the trajectory of esports revenues is at all accurate then we’re in for a thrilling few years.