The recently ballooning eSports market is finally starting to see a worldwide slowdown, but competitive video gaming is still a $892 million business and will hit $1.23 billion by 2019, according to a new report.
Advertising and sponsorships currently account for three quarters of revenue in eSports, with the rest coming from direct revenue, including ticket sales and betting, according to the report from research firm SuperData. By the end of the year, player sponsorships and eSports websites will account for $661 million of the category’s revenue.
By 2017, the eSports category overall will pass $1 billion in annual revenue for the first time, the firm forecasted.
Asia currently accounts for the biggest chunk of eSports revenue ($328 million in 2016) with North America ($275 million). Europe is a close third at $269 million.
SuperData expects worldwide viewership to jump 14% in 2016, with this year’s 214 million viewers hitting 303 million by 2019. Part of that growth is thanks to traditional broadcasters like ESPN putting more emphasis on eSports.
“While eSports on TV will broaden the audience somewhat, it's not suddenly going to become the main way to watch eSports,” said SuperData analyst Carter Rogers. “For longtime fans, streaming is the best way to view eSports, and they don't need TV to ‘legitimize’ eSports.”
The research firm found that Riot’s “League of Legends” is both the most-watched and highest-grossing eSports endeavor, generating $737 million in revenue and 96 million monthly average users between January and May of 2016.