The Evolution of Esports and the Esports Fan

Overview The growing level of esports participation and engagement from brands and coveted demographics alike have companies working to understand the esports market and what’s next in this growing space.

As esports viewership has increased, notable brands such as Coca-Cola, Intel, Red Bull and more have dedicated budget and resources to step up to the plate in the esports market.

In partnership with the Consumer Technology Association (CTA)®, SportTechie invited industry leaders in the esports arena to speak in a recent webinar about how brands are engaging with esports and how companies can define esports metrics and ROI as the space continues to grow.

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How to Measure the Esports Audience

In understanding the esports audience, StreamMetrics Co-Founder and COO Dan Nemo said it’s important to determine the right measurement for audience size first.

Although many in the industry have used metrics such as peak concurrent viewers — the maximum number of concurrent users connected to the platform at one time — and hours watched, these metrics are not industry standards in terms of television viewership and do not accurately measure esports participation either.

One difficulty with these metrics is that peak numbers are often driven by incentivized views with sponsorships and giveaways. Although these incentives propel views temporarily, they are not sustained overtime and should not represent the industry average.

“[With esports] being a live broadcast platform that is digital-based means that how we are understanding the viewership is becoming a lot more mature,” said Tatiana Tacca, director of esports at Momentum Worldwide.

The industry has now turned to “average minute audience” (AMA), defined as the average number of individuals viewing a channel or event, calculated per minute during the program duration. AMA is a standard that has been used in traditional sports for many years and is easily adjustable to esports.

But even with an agreed upon metric, esports platforms see low enough overlap in viewership that it’s more beneficial to focus on individual esports properties themselves when measuring the audience.


Independent, Third Party Measurement Shows Maturity

Viewership for esports has been measured by the companies that are in esports, those that have been producing the content, skewing the objective view on the industry.

“When you have a lot of companies that have pressure to grow, I think there is an inflation of numbers,” said Kasra Jafroodi, strategy and analytics lead for Activision Blizzard Esports. “We have companies in the space that are measuring from a third-party perspective that will help this industry mature.”

As Jafroodi, Tacca and Nemo explain, with such drastic differences in the demographics of each esports competition and platform, it’s more effective for those in the space to look at individual properties instead of comparing numbers that have been defined by those established in the market.

“Certainly, a tennis audience is different from a boxing audience is different from the NFL audience,” Nemo said. “We see the same thing in esports, and we like to think of them differently as well.”

Esports audiences are more engaged than [those of] traditional sports, Most people are not on their phones during esports tournaments.

Kasra Jafroodi
Strategy and Analytics Lead for Activision Blizzard Esports

Understand the Esports Fans

As notable brands try to understand the trajectory of the esports space and the engagement opportunities made available through the growth of the market, they are also trying to best understand the nuances of the esports fan base and how they differ from traditional sports fans.

“Esports audiences are more engaged than [those of] traditional sports,” Jafroodi said. “Most people are not on their phones during esports tournaments."

Tacca added, “If you look at why fans watch esports, it’s because they want to get better at the game.”

In a live esports arena with the unique experience to see such a production, the audience has been shown to be hyper-passionate and engaged throughout the event because of their personal connection to the game and the idea that they, too, could realistically be a player.

“Esports is going to start paralleling some of the biggest names out there,” Nemo said.

Learn more about the esports space and how brands are engaging in activations with esports on the SportTechie webinar.

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