Over four million Australians watched esports in 2017

Olivia Harris 24 November 2017

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A new report on esports and Australian engagement.

New studies have indicated that just under 4 million Australians are watching esports. The report, Just a Game? Understanding the existing and future eSports market in Australia, tells us that around 15% of Australians have engaged with esports on some level.

Furthermore, 8 out of 10 (79%) in this group of Australians have expressed a desire to engage again. This is partly due to the rapidly growing popularity of esports over the past few years. Thanks to big investors like Audi and McDonald's, esports has been able to expand here and its success is starting to replicate the scene in other countries, including North America and South Korea. Overseas, esports is already a big industry and draws in enormous crowds at every event, both in person and online.

Globally, esports is estimated to be worth US$745 million with an audience of 385 million this year alone.

This huge market has grown in Australia in just a short time. Globally, esports is estimated to be worth US$745 million with an audience of 385 million this year alone. These numbers are set to hit more than US$1 billion through a doubling in its audience size by 2020.

Just how regularly fans or spectators can watch esports is inherently limited by a few factors. For example, just as any other sport has off seasons and on seasons, so does esports. Over the course of the year tournaments and matches are held in small bursts, eventually working up to the grand finals in the last few months of the year. The number of different teams or games people watch, as well as how dedicated they are to watching them, affects when and how often they view esports online and in person. This is reflected in the report, as only 31% of those who watch esports watch on a weekly basis, followed by 26% for monthly views.

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The studies by the market research firm YouGov have shown that, out of all the viewers of esports, younger people (specifically males) are the keenest on the new sporting spectacle. Close to a quarter (23%) of people aged between 18 and 24 in Australia have watched esports, compared to the much lower 1% of people aged 55+. Over half (57%) of those who have viewed esports watch at least once a month, which coincides with how often events can run for specific games. People who are considered "Heavy Gamers" or "Keen Gamers" are the most likely to watch esports on a regular basis, with 64% of "Heavy Gamers" watching esports at least monthly.

This also points to how viewership may develop going forward with the industry. This research has indicated that 1 in 5 (21%) viewers is interested in watching esports in the future. Younger age groups are the most enthusiastic about watching a match sometime down the line, with 4 in 10 expressing interest, compared to only 4% of those aged 55+.

Australia is ranked 4th in the world with population awareness of esports at 44%.

On the other end, only 44% of Australian adults are even aware of esports in any form, which means that only a third of those who are aware have ever watched esports. In terms of awareness of esports, both as a sport and a form of entertainment, Australia is ranked 4th in the world at 44%. China is in first place with 77%, followed by Singapore with 55% and Germany ahead of Australia at 44% as well. As a country, we have room to grow and there's always a chance for esports to pick up exponentially in the new few years.

All of this amounts to a few important pieces of information for those interested in esports. It tells us who is watching and that a fair amount of us are watching, but that it's still not safe to bring up the topic of esports at parties just yet. We know that over half of those who have seen esports watch it on a monthly basis, are aged 18-24 and generally male. While this comes as no surprise this information is important for investors, advertisers and organisers who want to move forward with esports in the future, and better incorporate their audience into the entertainment sector.

As Sej Patel, Head of Australia at YouGov says: The research shows there is an appetite for esports in Australia. A solid proportion of existing spectators are reasonably enthusiastic about watching again and the scale of viewership in China and the US show how it could potentially develop in Australia.”

As the viewership expands and grows so does the industry as a whole. Esports is set to grow and Australia is set to be a big competitor overseas as our teams have more access to better resources and coaches. It would be amazing to see Australia come out on top against other countries in international tournaments. With this level of growth and commitment, we may be getting closer than you think!

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