Updated: Aug 10, 2020
The SportsTech Match team has compiled this overview of the Esports fan engagement market to help sports rights owners, agencies and brands (amongst others) to discover the right technology solutions to help them engage the growing band of Esports fans.
Introduction To Esports And Esports Fan Engagement Solutions
Types Of Esports Fan Engagement Solutions
Major Trends In Esports
The Esports Fan Base
Use Cases And Buyers Of Esports Fan Engagement Solutions
Choosing The Best Esports Fan Engagement Solutions For Your Needs
1. Introduction To Esports And Esports Fan Engagement Solutions
Esports includes any competitive gaming in an organised format. PWC estimates spend on Esports to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 18.3% to USD1.6 billion by 2023. Sponsorship currently accounts for the largest share of Esports spend. The Drum reported that, following widespread lockdowns caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, Esports revenue growth is likely to accelerate as it will “pull spend from other marketing channels”.
This buyers guide relates to any solution or service in the market that specialises in helping buyers (Brands, Event Organisers, Publishers, Leagues and Teams and Pro Gamers) to engage and connect with the growing number of Esports fans.
2. Types of Esports Fan Engagement Solutions
The services and solutions that are included within the scope of this buyers guide fall into one or more of the following categories:
Data & insights: tech solutions and services designed to help buyers to profile, segment, target and build a relationship with Esports fans.
Content: tech solutions and services developed to help organisations develop original content and/or produce and distribute live or on-demand Esports content.
Platforms: tech solutions and services that enable organisations to broadcast Esports content to fans via bespoke digital / OTT platforms, live streaming platforms and/or social media.
Experiences: tech solutions and services built specifically to augment the Esports fan experience either in-venue or remotely.
3. Major Trends In Esports
Newzoo’s Top Esports Trends to Watch 2020 outlines four key trends.
The Rise Of Mobile Esports
Mobile Esports, which is being fuelled in Asia and South America by the introduction of Lite Apps, is reported to have generated about ten times more live viewership hours between the months of September and November 2019 than it did during the same period in 2018.
Newzoo reports that, “while PC games are still the highest-grossing and most watched Esports in mature markets, mobile Esports will begin to make significant inroads in Brazil, the Middle East and Africa, India, and Southeast Asia throughout 2020”.
Innovation In Digital And Other Direct-To-Consumer Esports Products
As the demand for Esports content grows, Esports rights owners are increasingly building direct to consumer products to get this content out to fans. “These products include in-game cosmetics and over-the-top (OTT) viewership offerings (access to more live match content as well as shoulder content), like player screen footage, behind-the-scenes tours with players, and post-match podcasts”.
More Cities Will Leverage Esports As A Tourist Attraction
Hosting traditional sports events is a long-established marketing strategy for cities. With its younger demographic, Esports events can be a very attractive way to engage a hard to reach audience to stimulate tourism and attract talent. “According to a report by Riot Games, the League of Legends LEC Finals, which took place over two days, contributed more than $2.6 million to Rotterdam’s economy”.
Franchises And Leagues Broaden Their Horizons
Without the threat of relegation, Esports teams can be a stable asset for investors and one with significant growth potential. “Esports franchising is a trend that’s here to stay, as shown by the business’ willingness to invest in closed league systems and high-priced slot acquisitions”.
4. The Esports Fan Base
Global Interest In Esports Growing Fast
Business Insider estimates that total esports viewership will grow at a 9% CAGR between 2019 and 2023, up from 454 million in 2019 to 646 million in 2023. They point to “the social component of live streaming and gaming” as a driver for the rise of esports. Gamer numbers are even higher than viewer numbers and according to Newzoo topped 2.5 billion across all platforms (and set to grow).
Esports Fan Profile
Much has been written about the challenges in engaging Esports fans from a brand perspective. Yvonne Hobden, consumer marketing lead at HP UK, is quoted in Marketing Week as saying, “I would say buyer beware, go into the space and take advice because this audience is so quick to judge. You get it wrong and that’s it – it’s game over. You’ve got to take your time to understand it, don’t rush.”
Hootsuite / We Are Social studied the proportion of fans who watch Esports competitions by age which illustrates the young nature of the audience.
A recent Newzoo study, which broke down the proportion of players vs viewers vs those who are players and viewers of the main Esports titles, shows that there is a significant proportion of people who watch but don't play.
5. Use Cases And Buyers Of Esports Fan Engagement Solutions
Brands that are looking to enter the Esports space are typically looking for insights to understand the popularity of Esports in general as well as the popularity of specific properties that they are considering sponsoring. They typically also want insights that help them to understand what drives the passion for Esports amongst viewers and gamers.
Brands that are actively sponsoring Esports properties will typically need services to help them to connect their brand with the fans passion for Esports or a particular Esports title. These services can include data-driven tools to target, segment and manage the relationship with Esports fans, solutions to help them create content and capabilities to develop digital experiences such as a dedicated microsite / App as well as digital fan activations and experiences.
Event Organisers typically will look for tech solutions to ensure fans can access tickets to events or pay to access a live stream if unable to attend. They will also typically acquire solutions to enhance the on-site fan experience to make the event more premium for fans and sponsors.
Publishers typically will want to understand the profile of gamers and fans that are engaging with Esports events that feature their titles in order to build relationships and convert them to download or purchase these titles.
Leagues and Teams
Leagues and Teams will typically be looking to engage their fanbase from event to event. They will often have a need to develop their own digital platforms (web and/or app) upon which they host news and content and will require a live streaming platform or solution to host live and on-demand content. They will also require social media management tools to create and post content on a regular basis. Tech solutions will also typically be needed to enable teams and leagues to generate revenue from licensing and merchandising.
Pro Gamers will typically require tools to create live and on-demand content (e.g. tutorials) on their live streaming platform of choice. They will also typically require tech platforms that empower them to create and sell merchandise as well as tools that enable them to manage their social media profiles.
6. Choosing The Best Esports Fan Engagement Solutions For Your Needs
Now that you understand the Esports fan engagement solutions market, it’s time to find a solution that works best for your organisation. At SportsTech Match, we’ve already done the research for you, so you don’t have to spend hours or days searching the internet for the right solution.
Submit your requirements by answering a few short questions (takes less than 5 minutes), and our team will send you a matching report with details of the best solutions that match your requirements.