858 million people will be watching games content by 2022, equating to 1 in 10 of the global population.
That's according to a new study from Juniper Research, which forecasts that there will be a massive growth in unique viewers of esports and let's play content, up from 630 million this year.
The new whitepaper entitled eSports, Let’s Play & Watch Play: Monetisation & Engagement Strategies 2018-2022, found that growth in viewership will be driven by a surge in popularity of Battle Royale titles, where dozens of players face-off in a ‘last-man standing’ format. Titles including PUBG and Fortnite encompass new audiences; introducing a more diverse demographic to esports content.
With $100 million in prize money for Fortnite tournaments in 2018, Juniper anticipates substantial growth in Let’s Play viewership; exceeding 12 billion hours on YouTube alone, as players seek to hone their skills.
The research also found that esports tournaments will use new funding strategies. Prize pools will see a greater integration of loot boxes – purchasable (and controversial) in-game packs containing a random selection of in-game items – and content giveaways as a monetisation strategy.
Research author Lauren Foye explained: “Loot boxes play upon gamers’ desire to have the most prestigious and sought-after items, whether these be weapons or cosmetic goods. By offering these as time-limited content during popular events, tournament hosts will be able to drive substantial funding and interest from players.”
Whilst esports advertising has been the mainstay of endemic brands including Intel and NVIDIA, non-endemic brands will increasingly sponsor major tournaments and streaming events, with advertising revenues forecast to reach $2.2 billion by 2022.
Brands will seek celebrity endorsements of gaming events due to recent success with live streams featuring rapper Drake and popular Twitch streamer Ninja (record 628,000 views on Twitch), as well as Tottenham Hotspur player Dele Alli (25,000 views).