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Webrain Reports Archive

#210 – eSports and Digital Fan Engagement Platforms

Esports, the world of competitive organized video gaming, has grown rapidly in recently years. The “League of Legends” world championship had 100 million viewers (greater than the audience of the 2019 Super Bowl), and its 16-year-old winner took home a prize of $3 million at Fortnite World Cup. One key draw to gaming is that is represents a democratization of participation, in that anyone with an internet connection can excel regardless of body type, gender, culture, or location.

By 2021, viewership is expected to rise to 550 million worldwide across the various streaming platforms. At this time, sponsorships provide a significant portion of the revenue flowing to eSports players, teams, and leagues. One study projects $655 million in sponsorships in 2020, a doubling of the amount seen in 2019. Technology has always been at the heart of eSports, and new advances such as 5G are anticipated to provide even more compelling experiences for players and fans alike.

But even as eSports grow, traditional professional sports remain strong. Webrain notes, however, that both of these factions can learn a lot from each other, especially with regards to how they attract and retain their valuable fan bases. For example, traditional sports teams are now expanding fan engagement into digital space, especially during times when the teams are not engaged in play. Meanwhile, eSports will pursue engaging fans to generate more revenue not only in the digital world, but also through merchandise, media rights, and in specially constructed arenas. One term used for this is “360° fan engagement experience,” which includes connecting fans with players, and also allows for highly targeted, non-obtrusive advertising.