How COVID-19 has pushed this phenomenon’s explosive growth to new levels
eSports has become the number one sport since regular sporting events took a backseat due to the COVID-19 pandemic which has swept the world. In this article, we’ve partnered with SiGMA, the leading iGaming events organiser to show you how eSports has boomed since March 2020, plus the phenomenal numbers behind this industry’s growth. The GTH Team has also deep-dived into the regions where game operators still haven’t fully exploited the grand canyon sized gaps in the eSports betting market and how and why they should be targeting these regions. All the stats in this article are taken from leading statistical firms and SiGMA have also provided their input. Finally, we’ll demonstrate how iGaming operators can take full advantage of the eSports boom by taking up our two outstanding offers which are geared at thrusting them into the eSports scene!
When you think of “sports” or “sporting events”, chances are that you’re likely thinking about professional sport teams, which can, barring the odd occasion (I’m looking at you, RB Leipzig), trace their roots back to the mid-19th century. This was a period when casual past times such as football (“soccer” to anyone reading this across the pond) transitioned into more organized leagues and gathered a tribal following known to you and me as “fans”. Since then, sports teams, like football, basketball, rugby, baseball and NFL football clubs, have thrived and become global phenomena. They’re brands in their own right and some of the leagues they ply their trades in generate billions of dollars yearly, i.e. the English Premier League.
As the professional side of these sporting clubs or teams has developed, the “business” side of the sport has grown and even surpassed the sporting side as it’s truly evolved into a worldwide, multi-billion dollar ecosystem. The business side of the sports teams now view their players and leagues as commodities. Then you have the added spice of the merchandisers, sponsors, the huge TV broadcasting deals, not forgetting the event space which brings in millions from corporate hospitality.
Now, before jumping into the rest of the article, we want to tell you that we’ve written this with our close partners, SiGMA, in mind, especially as they’re now taking on the eSports world by storm!
The present COVID-19 world and sport
Today, this evolution in sport is continuing, but unlike the traditional sporting world, which has been put on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the sporting evolution has given rise to the emergence of eSports as the driving force for fans, businesses and sports bettors wanting to place a bet on the next upcoming eSports tournament or event.
The eSports boom has sent a sonic wave across the globe, and this electronic sporting industry is gaining popularity and going from strength to strength on a daily basis. I’m going to show you some key data which proves this new adaptation to the sporting world. The data we’ve compiled here at GTH demonstrates eSports’ rapid growth, and the most valuable eSports companies which are now profiting big from this new, exciting frontier. All the data I’m about to divulge has been taken from various market research sources such as Datamonitor, Gartner, Forrester Research, and Nielsen, so, kudos to them for giving us the data we asked for.
The trend of the gaming industry is rising, while we see that the film and music industry is pretty stagnant. In recent years, geographic barriers have started to crumble due to faster internet speeds, the innovation in game operators, and the rise of eSports, which is now a billion-dollar industry in its own right.
Projections for the growth of the eSports industry are extremely bullish, with revenue expected to more than triple from 2019 through to 2023. Just take a look at the eSports revenue trend line!
How the eSports ecosystem works
eSports teams are gathering together big-name sponsors, such as Cloud9’s sponsorship with BMW. Founded in 2013, Cloud9 has grown into one of the biggest and most recognizable eSports organizations in the world, with its teams competing in games such as Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Fortnite, League of Legends, PUBG and World of Warcraft.
On March 9, 2019, Cloud9 announced that they were partnering up with BMW, the German car manufacturer (I own one too, so no favoritism here) that was founded way back in 1916. Cloud9’s Twitter announcement of the partnership went viral, as was expected. Telecom, Sportswear and Soft Drinks giants such as T Mobile, Nike, and Coca-Cola have joined in on the action, plowing millions into eSports teams. And the number of internationally recognized brands wanting to jump on the eSports bandwagon is growing day by day.
Professional eSports competitions are on the rise too, as are the prize pools which accompany them. Here are the top three eSports tournaments valued by the prize money they’ve generated:
- The International - $25.5 million
- LOL World Championship - $6.5 million
- Fortnite Fall Skirmish Series - $4 million
eSports tournaments have massive online audiences, with these tournaments being held in sold-out arenas. Event organizers are cashing in big on the eSporting scene. Merchandising is on the up too and most event organizers can’t keep up with the demand. Just like the traditional sporting world, eSports has followed the same ecosystem, with the teams, their players, sponsors, merchandising and the broadcasters such as Twitch making an absolute killing.
And just like the traditional sporting world, eSports is driven by viewership. Twitch and YouTube reported that 11% of all viewing hours in 2019 were generated by eSports leagues, events, pre and post-analysis eSports videos. In case you didn’t get just how big that eleven percent number is, videos on health and lifestyle are at 4%.
The global eSports audience is expected to surpass 450 million this year (2020), and the COVID-19 pandemic is pushing these forecasts higher and higher each week! Seeing that the number one most-watched league in the world is the Premier League, with viewership at 3.2 billion in 2019, eSports is already nearing 15% of the Premier League’s viewership numbers. Wow!
eSports prize pools are deep. Really deep!
Just take a look at the sporting world’s prize pools we’ve collated via the data provided to us from Forrester and Nielsen:
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you might have noticed that the eSports reputation in the media and in popular culture has shifted from being a “fringe sport” to now being viewed as a truly mainstream phenomenon. In fact, the global gaming industry has now eclipsed $135 billion in revenue worldwide, and here at GTH, we’re seeing this firsthand. How? We’re working with a host of gaming companies who are seizing the eSports phenomena with both hands and coming to us for all their localization and content needs, especially when it comes to the eSports betting scene. I’ll dive into the eSports betting scene a bit further down in the article and show you how gaming operators, affiliates, and review sites are now beginning to leverage it.
Oh, and just in case you were in the dark (living in that cave of yours) about the $135 billion number in the paragraph above, that figure is twice as much as the film and music industries combined! The world is changing and iGaming operators are moving into upcoming markets such as LATAM, Asia, and Africa. The need to serve these markets has never been greater and with the COVID-19 pandemic thrusting most of the world into a global lockdown, the need for game operators has boomed.
eSports betting has quadrupled and is expected to rise even further
Since January 2020, we’ve seen a massive swing at GTH towards serving the needs of a new type of sports bettor, the eSports bettor.
eSports and betting go hand in hand and the correlation between the rise of eSports and the betting that’s taking place on eSports tournaments and events can’t be overlooked. When it comes to betting on eSports, iGaming operators, especially the ones we’re working with, are taking full advantage of the booming eSports industry and are now accommodating the eSports betting scene. eSports bets such as Outright Bets, Match Bets, Handicap Bets, Accumulator Bets and Special Bets are the number one attraction for many companies right now.
Why has the betting industry shifted towards eSports? The simple reason is that punters can no longer bet on traditional sporting events and games. They still need to get their rush, and eSports offer this, plus it’s different, and we all like new and different things, and sports bettors are no different.
The rise of the online casino & online sportsbook reviews websites now covering the eSports betting scene
Just like the eSports ecosystem we looked at, the eSports betting scene has started to create its own ecosystem. How? We’re now working with many online casino and online sportsbook reviews sites and affiliates which cover gaming operators who offer eSports bets. In fact, we’re now being inundated with content and localization requests from reviews websites wanting to cover the eSports betting scene. We’re not complaining though.
As we’ve demonstrated the sheer rise of the eSports industry, it’s time we looked at the phenomenal growth of the wagers that are placed on the eSports tournaments and events which are happening worldwide.
Billions are wagered on eSports
In 2016, $5.5 billion was wagered on eSports alone. We’re now in 2020 and the forecasted number has exceeded the $15.5 billion mark. This is the reason online casino and online sportsbook operators are shifting their attention to the eSports betting scene. The demand for people wanting to place a wager on an eSports tournament or event has grown exponentially and is set to continue to grow without letup, especially now that traditional sports have all but ceased.
Just in case you were wondering, the growth in eSports bets from 2016 to 2020 has increased by more than 180%. No other sports betting figures come close to that, and as traditional sports betting takes a backseat due to the COVID-19 pandemic, people wanting to place wagers have shifted their bets to eSports.
We’re also seeing a big increase in the number of online casino and sportsbook reviews sites in New Jersey, USA, which focus on the regulated scene. eSports fans want to know what odds they can get from the host of regulated sports betting sites offering eSports bets in New Jersey, and this has pushed the said reviews sites into action. But New Jersey is the tip of the iceberg, as I’m about to show.
The eSports growth in Latin America and Asia in 2020 is unprecedented!
In a recent interview with SiGMA, GTH’s very own Director of Business Operations, Ildiko Gyimesi, had this to say about the Latin American iGaming market:
LATAM is the new frontier for iGaming. Period.
I want to expand on that by starting with some important facts. The first one is that the fastest-growing market for online and mobile gaming is LATAM. To back this up, I want us to take a look at some of the data coming out of Latin America right now so that we can put the above statement into perspective.
When it comes to the gambling industry, and more importantly, the online gambling sector, Latin America is leading the way as one of the fastest-growing territories in the gambling industry. In 2017 alone, we saw the predicted revenue count of $1.9 billion blown out of the water as revenues hit just under the $2.5 billion mark in 2019. Mobile was the largest segment with just over $2 billion in revenues last year. We’re expecting that to double within the next two years.
Ildiko and her team are on the frontline when it comes to dealing with gaming and sportsbook operators, as well as with affiliates and reviews websites and she knows a thing or two about the markets these companies are trying to penetrate. Now given the phenomenal eSports betting scene and the exponential growth of the LATAM online and mobile gaming industry, we’re all seeing the eSports and Gaming correlation unfold before our very eyes.
We asked the team at SiGMA for their stance on eSports and how it’s booming and they had this to say:
“eSports has been on the rise for years, but now with the COVID-19 pandemic, we’re seeing astonishing results, particularly in the LATAM markets, and especially with a view to people throughout the Latin American regions wanting to place bets on eSports events and tournaments."
“Our new event, which is titled, SiGMA LatAm, focuses on the impact eSports is having. It’s especially directed at iGaming brands, affiliates and anyone wanting to take advantage of the eSports boom. We’re also working closely with GTH when it comes to widening the horizon and assisting iGaming brands leverage eSports like never before. They are the go-to unified localizations provider, and they know what they’re doing when it comes to the eSports scene.”
The Asian market, long known as the betting capital of the world, is also jumping on the bandwagon when it comes to eSports. Here at GTH, we’re being inundated by requests from online gaming, sportsbooks, and reviews sites wanting to localize their websites so that they can leverage this new, unprecedented demand for people wanting to place wagers on eSports tournaments and events.
Are you a gaming, sportsbook operator, affiliate, or a reviews site that wants to get in on the eSports action? Here’s how we can help you take a slice of the eSports pie
The world is demanding a bigger range of eSports bets, so what are you doing about it?
We know what we’re doing about it at GTH. To kick things off, we’ve rolled out a series of outstanding offers for any gaming operator, affiliate or anyone wanting to enter this eSports space and take full advantage of the online gaming trend in LATAM and Asia. Our offers extend to other regions too, but as LATAM and Asia are eSports hotspots, we’ve focused our eyes on these two regions, but tell us which regions you’re interested in and we’ll accommodate you.
eSports offer 1 - Free website localization check
Our first eSports offer will see us provide a website quality check to any operator, affiliate or niche participant who has already localized their content for a new target market. If you’re an operator, affiliate or niche participant, we’ll give you the crucial feedback on your website. You’ve got nothing to lose but everything to gain from the feedback our experts here at GTH will give you. Take action!
eSports offer 2 - Free Translation or eSports content
Our second offer extends to us giving you a Free Translation or Free Content sample for operators, affiliates and newcomers to the eSports industry who haven’t yet translated their website, or created eSports-centric content.
Both our outstanding offers are already empowering iGaming brands, reviews websites and affiliates to understand the difference between basic translation and comprehensive localization. When we work on the content and the translation of the said content, we’re working on the cultural differences, idioms, and tone. One glove doesn’t fit all, and if you’re going to be targeting the huge eSports markets in different regions, you can’t simply copy and paste your content and translate it. You need to localize it for maximum effect.
We create eSports-centric content that is fully immersed in your target country’s cultural identity. Our translation works to tie the content we’ve created to the reader, so go ahead and claim both offers here.
Oh, and just in case you’re wondering, this article was written by one of our superstar Copywriters who will also (hopefully) be creating your content. We know what needs to be done to take your brand to the next level, and if you’re to ride the eSports wave, you need a unified localization solutions provider like GTH who is on the frontline and already localizing your content and creating new, outstanding eSports-related content for brands who have already captured the eSports imagination.
Find out more about SiGMA LatAm right here and book your seat at one of the hottest events in Q3 2020 which will cover everything you need to know about boosting your brand in the Latin American markets!
SIGMA LATAM FOCUS:
This event brings the Americas closer to delegates from Europe and Asia, with an interesting agenda featuring a line-up of speakers that showcases the company’s commitment to covering the various gaming verticals. Explore the full agenda here and register now, this one’s on us!