The past decade has seen the popularity of Esports skyrocket throughout Europe and the rest of the world. Audience numbers are rapidly rising, and just like in the wider video games market, this engagement is translating into increased revenues. While Esports has faced some challenges due to the pandemic, both the demand and supply of Esports content is bigger than ever before. A recent investigation, ‘Europe and Esports: High Engagement and Even Higher Potential’, based on research conducted by PayPal and Newzoo, explored the Esports ecosystem in Europe. The study shows results after a survey of 10,175 Esports viewers across Western and Northern Europe. These respondents were aged 18 to 45 and are nationally representative of Esports viewers within each country. The document includes interviewees from the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Spain, Italy, Norway, Finland, and Sweden, and examines topics ranging from viewing behavior to spending.
There are key findings to highlight about this analysis. The European Esports audience will grow to 92 million by the end of 2020, up 7.4% from 86 million of the previous year. From the total, Esports Enthusiasts (people who watch professional Esports content more than once a month, in the last 12 months) will account for 33 million of Europe’s audience, with Occasional Viewers (people who watch professional Esports content, on average, less than once a month in the last 12 months) making up the remaining 59 million. In terms of revenues, the global Esports market will generate US$973.9 million in 2020, growing to US$1.6 billion by 2023. In Europe, revenues are on track for similar evolution.
AGE AND GENDER
Esports Enthusiasts are not as young as one might think. Only 33% of Esports viewers aged 18-20 watched Esports several times a month. People aged 21-25 were most likely to be Esports Enthusiasts. Against popular belief, women are already engaged with Esports. Just under a third (32%) of the Esports audience surveyed were women, with the majority being Occasional Viewers. Men are likelier to be Esports Enthusiasts (38%) compared to women (27%). In this sense, women’s engagement is growing on an enthusiast level. Around 60% of Europe’s Esports audience agreed that the number of women participating in Esports is increasing. In fact, of the Esports Audience in France, 68% indicated they were interested in mixed gender Esports tournaments, with a further 27% saying their interest didn’t depend on gender.
COVID-19 RESTRICTIONS AND SPENDING
Of those surveyed, viewers in markets faced most COVID-19 restrictions were likeliest to say their Esports viewership increased. This 59% of respondents who said they spent more time watching Esports expressed they will continue to watch even after the lockdown measures are lifted. Respondents in Spain and the UK had the highest share of those who said they will continue to watch more after lockdown.
Despite being slightly less engaged in Esports, the female Esports audience is just as, if not more likely, to have spent money on Esports products in the last 12 months. 48% of the European female Esports audience spent money on Esports related products in the past 12 months compared to 46% of the male Esports audience. Female Esports audience members in Spain were the most likely to indicate they had spent money on Esports related products (56%), followed closely by Italy (53%) and France (51%). Across all markets, 58% of Esports Enthusiasts spent money on Esports related products, compared to just 37% of Occasional Viewers. Of the total, 48% of Esports Enthusiasts who spent money purchased team specific digital merchandise, including skins, banners, and other content. Cosmetic goods, such as in game skins, where valued over more functional items. Final data says 37% of the Esports Audience in Europe has a favorite Esports team, while 64 of those same Esports viewers have a favorite traditional sports team.