A study from Juniper Research has found that a rapid rise in consumption of eSports and streamed games content will drive $3.5 billion (€3.29bn) in revenues by 2021, up from $1.8 billion in 2017.
Juniper’s report found that whilst the subscription model, as seen on platforms such as Twitch, will contribute significant revenues to the industry, it will be advertisers who reap rewards; with almost 90 per cent of eSports & ‘Let’s Play’ viewers also watching ad-supported casual games streams in 2021.
Alongside eSports viewership, the popularity of casual ‘Let’s Plays’ (commentary on streams of the playing of videogames) has accelerated dramatically.
The research found that much of this relates to viewers seeking to improve their own gameplay, alongside a dedicated following of individual broadcasters on platforms including Twitch and YouTube. It argued that companies seeking to cash-in on the trend should either work with a streamer who aligns with their values, or closely monitor content which is to be published in public.
Research author Lauren Foye explained: “As we saw following PewDiePie’s recent controversial videos, a breach of a sponsor’s values can result in the termination of lucrative partnerships. Nevertheless, a rise in PewDiePie’s channel engagement following the scandal highlights a quandary sponsors are facing.”
Whilst advertising, and increasingly tips, are dominant in the viewership of casual games streaming, eSports content has begun to be monetised through alternative means. Juniper believes that the sale of merchandise, time-limited content (such as in-game items), and access passes, will form part of a wider trend to drive the industry forwards. As we saw with DOTA 2’s 2016 ‘The International’ tournament, sales of additional content boosted the prize pool by $18 million.