By  the University of South Carolina Sumter

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What is eSports?

eSports can be defined as a form of sports where the primary aspects of the sport are facilitated by video games; the input of players and teams as well as the output of the eSports system are mediated by human-computer interfaces. Most commonly eSports take the form of organized multiplayer video game competitions, particularly between professional players. The most common video game genres associated with eSports are real-time strategy, fighting, first-person shooter (FPS), and multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA). Tournaments such as The International, the League of Legends World Championship, the World Championship Series, the Evolution Championship Series and the Intel Extreme Masters, provide both live broadcasts of the competition, and prize money and salaries to competitors.


Although organized online and offline competitions have long been a part of video game culture, participation and spectatorship of such events have seen a large surge in popularity from the late 2000s and early 2010s. While competitions around 2000 were largely between amateurs, the proliferation of professional competitions and growing viewership now supports a significant number of professional players and teams and many video game developers now build features into their games designed to facilitate such competition.

Fast Facts and Stats (2012-2017)

  1.  There were 58 million of the so-called “eSports-enthusiasts” in 2012. In 2014, this number rose to 89 million. In 2017, 145 million eSports-enthusiasts are expected worldwide.
  2. 40 percent of all eSports-fans who are watching competitive eSports via IPTV or similar livestream services are not active players themselves. This is an indicator that eSports is developing into a so-called “spectator sport.”
  3. 205 million viewers are watching eSports worldwide.
  4. 13 million eSports-enthusiasts are participating in leagues and tournaments on amateur or professional levels and are following championships or similar competitions on a regular basis.
  5. 19 million eSports-enthusiasts are watching eSports; some of those are taking part in leagues and tournaments.
  6. 56 million viewers are watching eSports on a regular basis.
  7. 117 million viewers are watching eSports occasionally.
  8. Estimates show that the eSports-market can increase its total revenue by 100 percent.
  9. In 2012, eSports generated a revenue of $130 million. In 2014, revenues increased to $194 million, and in 2017, $465 million are expected in sales.
  10. Considering the rapid development of eSports compared to traditional sports, annual sales within the next few years could exceed the magical mark of 1 billion USD.
  11. There are 2.2 billion viewers who have a (high) interest in sports. At the same time, there are 2.1 billion gamers worldwide.
  12. There are almost as many eSports-enthusiasts (89 million) as ice-hockey fans (94 million).
  13. In 2017, 145 million eSports-enthusiasts are expected worldwide, which will soon rival viewers of American football (151 million).
  14. In 2014, $2 were generated per eSports-fan. If compared to American football or ice-hockey (20 USD per fan). The sky is the limit!
  15. eSports-enthusiasts in the US are a valuable target audience for large brands and digital media companies. Compared to the total population, eSports-enthusiasts and casual viewers have larger income, full-time jobs and consume more often. eSports-enthusiasts are more susceptible to subscribe to a Netflix or Spotify account. 29 percent have a budget of 100+ USD for their headset, 53 percent have a full-time job, 41 percent own an iPad, and 30 percent have a larger income/are wealthy.