71.5 million people watch eSports

3 min read

ESports prize money vs viewers

Okay, it’s time that I confess – I have only been watching eSports for about a year. Sure, I’d seen the odd match or two before then, but it’s only been in the last 12 months or so that I’ve actually watched, and enjoyed, professional gamers playing games. But I’m not alone, and it’s a growing trend.

According to research group SuperData, eSports (also referred to as competitive gaming) is a rapidly growing market; viewership has increased almost eight-fold in the last four years. In fact, viewership doubled in the past year, growing to over 70 million in 2013. Half of those viewers are from the United States and the average eSports viewer watches games 19 times a month, with a session length of about 2.2 hours.

Interestingly, eSports now outstrips mainstream sports viewership in America, with viewers of the League of Legends Season 3 World Championships more than doubling that of Major League Baseball’s World Series. That’s right – more people are watching LoL than are watching America’s “favorite pastime”.

Of course, this means that more and more publishers are investing in eSports. Riot and Wargaming are industry leaders in this regard, but Valve and Blizzard are also on board. Growth is expected to continue into 2014.

What is causing this surge? Well, researchers infer that it’s mainly due to the growth among Western viewers. eSports has been popular in Korea and China for many years, but now its popularity is taking hold in the US and Europe. As a result, the market has simply exploded as millions of new viewers are jumping onto twitch, MLG.tv and other streaming channels to watch all their favorite eSports professionals battle it out.

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Let’s just hope that South Africa can also jump onto this bandwagon. The DGL is seeing record numbers – now we just need for teams to be able to stream more games and we can all get involved.

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Last Updated: April 4, 2014

Zoe Hawkins

Wielding my lasso of truth, I am the combination of nerd passion and grammar nazi. I delve into all things awesome and geek-tastic. I believe people should stop defining themselves and just enjoy playing games, so let's get on with it!

  • Admiral Chief Railjack
    • Kensei Seraph


      What the… a sniper?
      Shit he’s after me next.

    • Unavengedavo

      I seriously want to do this O_o

  • Admiral Chief Railjack

    I wouldn’t mind a dedicated SPERTS channel for gaming tbh

    • Kensei Seraph

      That… that’s actually a good idea.
      Pity the MSSA would probably either oppose it or control it.

  • Stan Smith

    Same header image as mygaming?

  • El Capitan del Blade

    71.5 Million Viewers, And I ain’t one. Prefer to use my bandwidth to Play, rather than watch…. and my 4MB line struggles with twitch sometimes… Can’t follow games in low res streaming….

    • Mighty Meh

      Dota has a brilliant in game viewer.

  • Mighty Meh

    I think the only way it will ever be regarded as a proper sport will be when the “athletes” behave in a manner that promotes it.

    I’d love to see e-sports grow but when I’m in a game of dota being heavily insulted by a so called pro player because I happened to use the courier while I was jungling puts me off instantly. The way they talk to you is absolutely uncalled for!

  • Brian Murphy
  • Rags

    Welcome welcome. You are late to the party 🙂 Arguably esport in terms of credibility and intensity was at its peak back in 2003. You should really have a look at the early 2000’s for probably the buildup of esport through starcraft, quake, enemy territory and counter strike. The CPL, WCG, ESWC, CB. There are some of of the classic matches on youtube.

    Back then we did not accept FPS games to be played on consoles, not even a LCD monitor. Before we sold out to the highest bidder and to be peons of marketing and advertising as to what ‘esport’ is today.

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