10 Esports Statistics to Understand the Competitive Gaming Market in 2024

Updated on November 23, 2023
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Andrea Mercado
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Esports statistics

Esports, a long-established phenomenon in Asia, are rapidly gaining ground worldwide. Rather than viewing this industry as fully mature, it's more apt to see it as a high-growth start-up. For instance, in 2022, U.S. audiences logged 217 million hours of e-sports content, a substantial increase from 147 million in 2018, according to data from Stream Hatchet.

E-sports involve organized tournaments where professional gamers compete in various genres of video games. 

But what does the esports landscape look like in 2024, and what are the forecasts for this segment? Join us as we dive into the top 10 esports statistics to understand the booming competitive gaming market in 2024.

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Photo by Alex Haney on Unsplash

What are esports exactly?

Esports involve professional gamers competing in popular video games worldwide. Matches occur in stadiums before massive audiences, both in-person and broadcast on TV and livestreams.

According to some studies, success in any e-sport requires commitment, like top players who train 70-80 hours weekly to perfect strategies against rivals.

Esports have familiar structures like traditional sports, with leagues, teams, and players. But live-streaming and gaming's social side set esports apart, spotlighting the convergence of gaming, media, culture, and business. 

The adoption of esports

In recent years, esports has turned video games into viral social events. Artists like Travis Scott have hosted virtual concerts in games like Fortnite.

However, although it has enormous potential to grow, e-sports has a smaller audience than traditional sports like football. According to Newzoo, of the 3 billion gamers worldwide in 2023, 500 million are dedicated esports fans.

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1. Esports tournaments exceed 100 million viewers

Esports have hit a remarkable milestone, with several tournaments amassing over 100 million hours of viewership. 

This achievement underscores the rapid growth of the industry, as it took games like League of Legends Worlds and The International for Dota 2 nearly a decade to reach this mark initially. It's a clear sign of esports' surging popularity.

While esports still has a way to go before it matches the viewership of traditional sports like the FIFA World Cup, it's undeniably on a fast-paced trajectory towards that goal. 

Even flagship esports events like League of Legends, although attracting a fraction of the viewership seen in major sports, are making significant progress.

2. The 2023 LCS Spring Season saw a 13% drop in viewership, raising concerns about esports in the U.S.

One particular concern is the diminishing viewer interest in The U.S. The 2023 spring season of the LCS, America's premier e-sports league, has witnessed a notable drop in viewership.

Economic challenges exacerbate this decline, prompting team owners to implement cost-cutting measures such as staff layoffs and parting ways with star players. 

This situation serves as a stark reminder that the e-sports industry is not immune to the economic realities of the entertainment sector. 

Esports Charts reports that the 2023 spring LCS season recorded 14.8 million hours of viewership, representing a 13% decline from the previous year and a 32% drop from 2021.

3. 261 million esports fans contribute just $5.30 annually, falling behind traditional sports spending

When it comes to spending, there’s also a significant gap between traditional sports fans and esports enthusiasts.

Around 261 million people worldwide engage with esports monthly between 2022 and 2023. However, the average esports fan only contributes $5.30 per year. That is much lower than what traditional sports fans spend.

Traditional sports fans tend to buy expensive tickets to games. Esports events can fill stadiums, but tickets cost less than conventional sports.

These differences in spending behaviors highlight the evolving nature of esports and the challenges it faces in achieving revenue levels comparable to traditional sports.

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Photo by ELLA DON on Unsplash

Esports market statistics

Esports revenue relies heavily on sponsorship deals, putting pressure on securing brand partnerships. While brands initially bought into esports' futuristic appeal, some are becoming more cautious as the return on investment is unclear.

Here are the latest esports market statistics that reveal how this industry is progressing beyond traditional gaming:

4. Global esports audience could surpass 640 million viewers by 2025

In 2022, the global esports audience reached a staggering 523 million viewers, which is set to climb to over 640 million by 2025. 

Countries like the UK and Germany have vibrant esports betting markets in Europe. 

On a worldwide scale, Asia and North America dominate the esports scene in terms of revenue, with China making up nearly 20% of the market share, according to some reports

5. Sponsors contribute 60% of esports revenue

Sponsors and advertisers, such as BMW and Red Bull, are crucial in the world of esports, contributing 60% of the revenue for esports organizations, as reported by the LA Times. 

These brands have long supported esports, but recent challenges have emerged. In Q2 of 2022, a 7% decline in the U.S. advertising market compared to the previous year has impacted the esports industry.

For instance, the Overwatch League lost all of its sponsors in the lead-up to the 2022 season, partly due to controversies related to sexism at Activision Blizzard. 

In response to these challenges, some sponsors are shifting their focus to gaming influencers, particularly Twitch streamers and YouTubers like Tyler "Ninja" Blevins. 

These influencers excel at engaging with viewers, making them an appealing option for sponsors looking to connect with their target audience.

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6. China contributes 34% of global esports revenue

China plays a big part in e-sports. Regional clubs with dedicated home stadiums, tiered talent tournaments, and the emergence of esports stars with devoted fan followings showcase the industry's growth. 

According to research by Niko Partners, China has claimed its position as the largest esports market, contributing a substantial 34% of the global industry revenue. When we encompass all of Asia, the share rises to an impressive 53%.

However, it's essential to acknowledge that China's esports ecosystem has challenges. While the industry continues to expand and captivate millions, it also faces controversies such as player burnout and concerns over fair competition. 

7. Saudi Arabia emerges as a global gaming powerhouse with a $37.8 billion investment in this market

Saudi Arabia already claimed the top spot in daily gaming time, with an average of 2 hours (11.47% of daily activities). Now, it's making waves in the gaming world, committing $37.8 billion to game development to become a global gaming hub. 

This substantial investment is part of their grand plan, as Saudi Arabia is all set to launch the annual Esports World Cup in 2024. 

The tournament will feature the world's most beloved games and offer history's largest esports prize pool. 

This initiative is a crucial component of the broader Vision 2030 plan, spearheaded by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

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Photo by Stem List on Unsplash

Esports demographics and user behavior

Recent studies reveal that in the Western regions, most esports fans are under 35 years old (38%), falling between 16 and 24 (35%.) 

However, the demographic landscape can differ significantly in regions with distinct cultural differences where esports are prevalent. 

Here are some other key esports demographics:

8. 61% of gamers are male, and 30% are female

Today, 61% of gamers are male, and 30% are female. However, these numbers significantly change as more female gamers join esports. 

Influential women in the industry include Jade Raymond and Christina Norman. They show the increasing impact of women in esports.

Top female gaming influencers like Pokimane, Sniper Wolf, and Valkyrie inspire more female gamers, helping make esports more diverse and inclusive.

9. Chinese esports shifts to the 35-44 age group

Chinese esports is changing, and its fans differ from what you might think. 

A 2022 survey by the Chinese industry group CADPA, supported by the government, found that esports is popular with people aged 35 to 44, almost as much as those under 24. Surprisingly, 44% of fans are women, and 36% come from smaller towns in China, not big cities.

One reason for this change is that people under 18 are limited to three weekly gaming hours.

10. PC gamers spent approximately $820 million in 2022 on gaming content

In 2022, PC gamers went all-in, spending $820 million on games within the Epic Games ecosystem. 

Recent data shows a considerable portion of this spending, around $355 million, was used to buy games from other developers, highlighting the vast array of gaming choices available on Epic Games.

What adds to the intrigue is Epic Games' unique way of keeping gamers engaged. They regularly organize influencer-driven tournaments in Fortnite that attract millions of viewers and create a buzzing online gaming community.

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Photo by AronPW on Unsplash

Summary: Esports Statistics

1. Esports tournaments exceed 100 million viewers

2. The 2023 LCS Spring Season saw a 13% drop in viewership, raising concerns about esports in the U.S.

3. 261 million esports fans contribute just $5.30 annually, falling behind traditional sports spending

4. Global esports audience could surpass 640 million viewers by 2025

5. Sponsors contribute 60% of esports revenue

6. China contributes 34% of global esports revenue

7. Saudi Arabia emerges as a global gaming powerhouse with a $37.8 billion investment in this market

8. 61% of gamers are male, and 30% are female

9. Chinese esports shifts to the 35-44 age group

10. PC gamers spent approximately $820 million in 2022 on gaming content

FAQ

How is an Esports competition organized?

Esports competitions are organized in two main ways:

  1. Open structures, like tennis or CS: GO and Rocket League. Events get teams through open qualifiers or performances. Teams play in regional events. The best teams go on to Masters, Majors, and Championship events.
  2. Closed leagues (like the NFL or NBA): Teams are chosen for multiple years. They compete in events throughout the season to determine the league winner. Examples are League of Legends and Overwatch.

How much have esports tournaments and players grown recently?

In 2022, there were around 300 tournaments with prize pools over $100,000. 

About 30,000 professional esports players competed, up from 14,000 in 2015. The median tournament prize pool increased significantly from $270,000 in 2018 to $600,000 in 2021.

Leading esports genres like MOBA, FPS, Battle Royale, and card games now have huge tournaments with over $1 million prize pools.

What are the most popular esports and betting companies in the industry?

The most popular esports for betting are Dota 2, CS: GO, League of Legends, Fortnite, Valorant, and FIFA.

Other growing esports are Hearthstone, Overwatch, StarCraft, NBA 2K, Call of Duty, and Valorant. Major esports betting operators include DraftKings, Betway, FanDuel, bet365, William Hill, LeoVegas, and Pinnacle. 

On the other hand, the top esports data providers for betting sites are Bayes Esports, Abios, and GG. Bet, and Data.Bet.

Final Thoughts

Esports has grown a lot in the last ten years. It has become a billion-dollar industry with over 500 million viewers globally. Asia and North America are the biggest markets right now. But new areas like the Middle East are set to become significant players, too.

It's also an excellent time for women gamers interested in esports. Recent data shows the audience is expanding beyond the stereotypical young male demographic. 

Looking ahead, the impact of AI will help shape the future of gaming and esports, as it has the potential to enhance storytelling, character depth, and world-building in games. Combined with the expanding accessibility of 5G networks and virtual reality technology, the gaming experience will become even more immersive.

While the rules around betting in esports are still uncertain, the industry looks set for solid growth. It will keep expanding as interactive entertainment and an exciting spectator sport worldwide.

Sources

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Andrea Mercado is a tech-focused journalist and copywriter with over 5 years of experience covering innovation, edtech, AI, and internet trends across media outlets. She is passionate about how technology can democratize access to education and is an avid learner when it comes to emerging tech like AI. Her articles and webinars help readers stay informed on the latest tech developments.
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