A new report from research firm Newzoo states that male millennials (ages 21 to 35) watch esports as often as baseball or hockey, with each activity claiming 22 percent of men from that age group as fans. This is one of the most important demographics for advertisers, who are willing to spend big ad money to target young men. Newzoo projects that esports will earn $1.1 billion in revenues by 2019. The growth is attracting attention from investors and groups from traditional sports, including team owners.
“The huge interest in esports from sports celebrities, clubs, media companies, and brands alike illustrate how games are leading the media and entertainment business towards a new future that has more in common with games than not,” Newzoo noted in an e-mail sent to GamesBeat. “Games bring innovation in tech and consumer business models, and have a unique ability to engage with and actively involve the younger generations. Traditional and digital media and sports companies bring experience in providing advertisers with an effective communication platform. There clearly is a natural, strategic, and commercial fit.”
Many millennials grew up with video games, which gives them an inherent appreciate for esports that older demographics may not have. The number of esports fans could grow as more age groups with experience in gaming become adults. This also explains why esports don’t compete with football, the most popular sport in the country. According to Newzoo, 56 percent of football fans are older than 35, while 73 percent of esports fans are younger than 35.
Esports also match up better with millennials’ viewing habits, who use streaming platforms like Twitch and YouTube more while they spend less time with traditional cable. We asked Newzoo if cord-cutting has had a big impact on this report, since many baseball and hockey teams have deals with regional cable networks and aren’t on broadcast TV (as the NFL is), and we also asked the research group how esports are comparing against the NBA and NFL, which get higher ratings than the MLB or NHL.
Newzoo also noted that out of the 80 million Americans who identify as basketball fans, 9.6 million also watch esports. That’s almost half of all U.S esports fans, which Newzoo says number at 20 million.