Esports Business Summit 2020 is in the books, and though the event had to do without the in-person element this year, there was plenty of thought leadership and networking to be found by esports executives and brand manager attendees.
One thing top of mind for all involved? In a pandemic that has triggered a rolling sequence of stay-at-home orders and largely restricted crowds at traditional sports events, esports consumption is up – way up.
The Nielsen Data Presentation, streaming on the second morning of the three-day event, hit this point home with a look at esports audiences before and during the Covid crisis.
“Esports generally, pre-pandemic, had started to really make its way into the mainstream, but I think the pandemic has certainly turbocharged that trend, with everyone isolated and locked down,” said Nielsen Sports and Esports Vice President Matt Boyd. “Looking for other ways to not only engage with other people but find new forms of entertainment, with the likes of [traditional] sports and other in-person events kind of stymied by the pandemic.”
While social distancing may have accelerated fandom, the esports growth trend had already begun long before. Nielsen data shows that roughly 20% of the current esports audience became fans within the last year. Another 23% have been fans for one to two years, and 25% have identified as fans for the past two to three years.
What does this mean? The category is growing quickly, and with it, esports production and ancillary new media content from the likes of Twitch. Speaking to non-endemic advertisers looking to test the waters of this expanding market, Boyd reported that the average viewer is 25 years old with an above-average income, and that the majority of viewers are still male – though he sees this shifting rapidly as players and platforms diversify. He specifically pointed to Twitch’s rebrand around the time of TwitchCon last year, with an eye toward inclusiveness in viewership and also content offered.
Industry growth and diversification was a theme throughout many of the sessions, many of which were presented by esports publishers and platforms. The Story Mob hosted a Women of Esports panel, with panelists speaking to the importance of increasing representation of women not only as players, commentators and CEOs, but in all roles behind the scenes of esports production.
Esports Business Summit hopes to be back in its usual Las Vegas digs for 2021. With engagement growing at its current rate, whether the next summit is virtual or in-person, it’s sure to be packed.