eSports industry inching closer and closer to becoming mainstream

With global audiences massively increasing and the spectator experience feeling realer now than ever, eSports or competitive video gaming is finally catching up with traditional sporting events.

You would be forgiven to think that this transformation over the last two decades since the last first video game tournament was rolled out is purely down to the advancement of communication systems and perhaps population increase but, well, preferences seem to have changed too and people are now having eSports as their favorite games – and not just as additional diversions.

But How Big Exactly is the eSport Industry?

According to a study by Newzoo, more than 200 million people participated in eSports in 2014 either actively or just as spectators. Guess what 2015 presented – a 19 percent increase of that, which chimes in perfectly well with the monetary value of the market.

By July 2016, according to the SuperData Research, the industry was worth around $892 million and will have hit and significantly surpassed the $1 billion milestone by June next year.

These aspects of eSports are proving that the growth of the industry into a mainstream sport is inevitable.

A Growing Prize Pool

Before the 2016 World Championship, League of Legends (LoL) – arguably the biggest eSport in the world right now – announced a prize pool that plausibly didn’t go down well with fans. It was laughably low and didn’t harmonize with its popularity compared to other lesser supported games. Riot, in a bid to raise it, decide to dedicate 25 percent of all Championship Ward and Championship Zed sales to this year’s prize pool for Worlds.

True to form, the company hit the target and generated an extra $2 million even before the end of the group stage period. They announced raising a record total of $5.07 million on the 28th of October – a day before the finals.

An earlier pledge by the company provided that the winning team would take home 40 percent of the money while the first runners up would be awarded 15 percent. The third and fourth teams would receive 7.5 percent, the 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th 4 percent, the 19th-12th 2.25 percent and the 13th-16th 1.25 percent.

SK Telekom T1 won the tournament (for the second year in a row) and were awarded over $2 million.

Dota 2, on the other hand, counted upwards of $19 million worth of contributed prize pool money in this year’s tournament, The International – little under $3 million higher than 2015’s figure. In what has been somewhat of a continuum, though, there is a $10 million difference between this year’s tournament’s figures and those of the first edition in 2014.

Ads and Sponsorships

In spite of eSports’ reliance on advertisements as a source of revenue, statistics show that only 74 percent of last year’s revenue actually came from ads and sponsorships. Direct revenue is slowly catching up, now making for the remaining 26 percent – a 36 percent year over year increase from 2014.

That’s not to say ad spend is destined to stall, though, as Nissan and Coke have now become tournament sponsors together with Red Bull and Logitech. There is also a projection that more European and North American companies will be willing to get involved now that the percentage of the games’ fan base in the West is becoming significant.

Media Coverage on Esports

In fact, the industry is reaching a broader audience by means of media giants such as Turner, ESPN and Yahoo, and by increasing esports betting opportunities by bookies like Betway esports and ArcaneBet, with a focus on esports betting sites with CSGOs, Dota 2 betting and much more.

To order to attract a younger audience, broadcasting competition offers media companies a shot, not only to be a popular subject within the media business.