Ishaan Arya is the cofounder, head of business development and content at The Esports Club. He is a veteran of the gaming industry. Ishaan started his career as a content creator and writer and led ‘Just Another Gaming Site’ JAGS- one of the top portals at the time. After working in the gaming and e-sports industry for five years, Ishaan realised there wasn’t any platform that offered brands the opportunity to make long term investments and helped the gaming community with grassroots development. He felt the need for a platform that let gamers pursue their esports dreams and allowed brands to leverage long term and sustainable esports IPs. Hence he cofounded The Esports Club with Vamsi Krishna.
Esports has incredibly grown from a niche part of the gaming industry to a huge disruptor of the traditional sports and entertainment industry in recent years. Industry stakeholders, insiders and consumers are all witnessing esports as it makes its way into the mainstream culture. While esports has been around for nearly two decades in some form or the other, it only gained popularity recently with significant developments and improvements in esports broadcast and of course significant investments from both publishers and advertisers who realized early on that esports is unparalleled when it comes to gaining mindshare of it’s unique demographic.
We’ve come a long way from the early days of esports. Today, the largest competitions are organised around esports fill up entire stadiums with passionate fans watching their favourite teams compete and millions more watching livestreams over services like Twitch and YouTube with prize pools in the millions.
Currently, esports is considered to be one of the fastest growing industries in the world. Last year, the industry scaled to an estimated audience size of 453 million, growing from 293 million in 2016. By late 2021, this number is anticipated to touch 557 million. Further, the rising esports landscape is likely to grow at an approximate CAGR of 36 percent in the forthcoming years and several aspects of this growth are unique.
Esports – The Next Big Thing in Entertainment
Numerous factors have played a decisive role in the rise of esports. The awareness and acceptance for esports is increasing remarkably. More people from diverse demographics are becoming aware of this segment.
Erstwhile, many adults would dismiss this phenomenon as a generational hobby as it was mainly the youth of the day that were excessively hooked on to watching videos of other gamers who were pitched against each other – a concept very alien for the older generations to grasp. However, that very generation is at the heart of driving the industry forward today as they understand the audience much better.
Today Esports widely being accepted as a ‘sport’ by mainstream media, especially as it helped operate and broadcast competitions when the traditional sports leagues stood suspended in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. A huge boost in awareness and acceptance as many football leagues and even F1 turned to gaming and esports to keep their audiences engaged for most of 2020.
Another prominent reason behind recent growth is the constantly growing viewership. Most esports viewers are in the age bracket of 25-34 and employed with a high spending power, a highly coveted demographic for the advertisers, as nearly 43% of esports fans have a comfortable household income. For brands wanting to acquire new and young potential customers with significant spending protentional, esports is very attractive. Globally non-endemic luxury and automotive brands like Gucci, BMW, Mastercard, are all turning to esports to reach this unique and lavishly spending demographic. For example, Louis Vuitton has been collaborating with popular video game developer Riot Games to create virtual items in League of Legends, while also supplying cases for the coveted ‘worlds’ trophy in line with their engagement with top tier traditional sports events as well as engaging with professional teams and esports athletes around the ecosystem.
Overall, the viewership and eventually the popularity of esports will only grow, especially as well-known brands associate themselves with leading and famous esports tournaments. Moreover, as advertisers understand the potential goldmine that is esports, brands will then be interfacing directly with the previously hard-to-acquire audiences, making way for innovative ways of advertising and unlimited creative potential, once again propelling esports forward. Today esports already outperforms the music and movie industry; with continued growth and investment there’s no limit to the heights esports can achieve as it brings in millions of viewers and fans from across the globe!