Nordics eSports: Audience growth halts, engagement grows

Mediavision’s latest analysis of Nordic eSports and gaming points towards a continued market expansion. And even though the explosive audience growth of previous years seems to have come to a halt, consumer engagement continues to grow. Viewing time is up and more consumers pay for content compared to a year ago.

2017 was an eventful year for the Nordic eSports and gaming market, illustrated by both increased competition over distribution rights and by several mergers and acquisitions. However, consumer interest seems to have stabilized after several years of strong growth. Around 650 000 Northerners watch e-sports/gaming an average day. This is on par with the number of daily viewers in 2016. But despite a stable audience size, viewing time increases. During the fourth quarter of 2017 eSports/gaming viewers spent on average 100 minutes per day watching the genre, which is an increase of 20 minutes since 2016. One reason for this development is that actors produce both more and better content compared to before.

The increased engagement is also shown by more consumers paying for the content. Almost one in five eSports/gaming viewers in the Nordics payed to watch during Q4 2017. This corresponds to a strong growth of over 40 per cent compared to the same period in 2016. Meanwhile, 75 per cent of Swedish viewers express a willingness to pay for specific streaming service functions. Two popular features that viewers are willing to pay for are ad free viewing or rewards included inside games.

– The increased share of paying viewers points toward a slowly maturing consumption. Meanwhile, the group of consumers willing to pay for content is considerably larger than those who pay today. We see this as a clear indication for further growth potential, says Torbjörn Axelsson, analyst at Mediavision.

Mediavision can also declare that Google’s Youtube and Amazon’s Twitch are still by far the two largest streaming services for e-sports/gaming content. In Q4 2017, more than 80 per cent of Nordic e-sports/gaming viewers turned to Youtube and 50 per cent watched via Twitch. But in the past year, Facebook has begun seriously competing with the duo. Through streaming of several different attractive e-sports events, Facebook managed to reach 14 per cent of the genre’s viewers in the same period.

– The market for e-sports and gaming is in an interesting phase of development. This is especially apparent among actors who now fight for the most attractive rights and popular influencers. Youtube and Twitch are challenged by Facebook’s increased investments, and by other actors as well. With increased competition and increasing prices for distribution rights, the prospects for continued market growth are good, says Torbjörn Axelsson.

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