With more people playing and watching computer games as a professional sport, the stakes are high for sponsors, with half of people seeing major benefits in competitive multiplayer video gaming.
With eSports tournaments expected to feature in some form in the run-up to the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics, and millions of pounds of prize money up for grabs for existing tournaments, it is no surprise that the popularity of viewing competitive multiplayer video gaming is on the rise. And according to the latest Harris 24 survey conducted by Harris Interactive, almost half of UK respondents aged 16-54 believe they have great potential for a mass audience in the future (49%), while a fifth of those polled (19%) agree that eSports should form an official part of the Olympic Games.
Awareness of eSports
The latest study, which aimed to investigate the UK’s awareness and perception of eSports and the impact on brands who sponsor such events, reveals that over three-quarters of those surveyed (76%) have heard of the term “eSports” and that two-fifths (39%) are interested in watching.
Streaming services – such as YouTube Gaming, used by almost half of eSports viewers (48%), and Twitch (39%) – are rapidly driving awareness.
Fortnite, a relative newcomer, stands out as the compelling eSports title, together with long-standing franchises FIFA and Call of Duty. Such games are helping to broaden its audience, which remains a niche – 18% of the UK currently watch eSports – according to the study. Deeper coverage of the top competitions and its inclusion in the Olympics could be the core drivers to create more of a mass-market appeal. While the latter is not without its controversy (only 19% agree it should be included and 45% have concerns about violent eSports games), there is broader agreement (38%) that having eSports in the Olympics would make the games connect better with younger generations.
The survey highlights hugely enticing brand sponsorship opportunities in the coming years. Over half of all UK respondents (51%) and over three-quarters of those who were eSports viewers (76%) say they are happy for brands to sponsor eSports.
Furthermore, over half of those questioned (53%) and over three-quarters of those who were also eSport viewers (76%) agree that brands who sponsor eSports benefit from the association.
Crucially, almost three-fifths of the 2,030 respondents (58%) claim that eSports can help sponsor brands connect with a younger and tech-savvy audience.
For players and teams involved in eSports, there is the appeal of major prize money. The International Dota 2 Championship saw teams battle for a fund in excess of $20m, while Epic Games recently announced a $100 million prize pool for eSports events featuring battle royale game Fortnite.
“It’s fair to say that entertainment is a driving force for watching eSports, with almost two-fifths (37%) of the public agreeing that they are very entertaining,” commented Steve Evans, Head of Entertainment at Harris Interactive. “What’s more, we can see from the survey that viewers are extremely receptive to brand association, which should encourage brands to invest in sponsorship opportunities afforded by popular eSports events, leagues and tournaments. The potential for brands to tap into younger, tech-savvy audiences is huge, and will only increase further as its popularity intensifies.”
A link to the full research can be found at: http://www2.harris-interactive.com/esportsreport
The eight-minute online survey was completed by 2,030 participants and was conceived, designed, fielded and analysed using the Harris 24 ultrafast polling service during May 2018. Results are weighted to be representative of UK demographics by gender, age and region. To find out more, visit: http://harris-interactive.co.uk/solutions/harris-24/.