Back in 2015/2016 with esports starting to be hyped up in North America and Europe, predictions for 2020 put the esports market at $1bn, with an optimistic upside at $3bn[1] (both Newzoo and SuperData Research). This was based on average revenue per enthusiast growing from $5 to $15 respectively.

During 2020, the forecast for year-end esports viewer numbers remained unchanged from the start of the year, expecting 495M esports viewers by the end of 2020:

Data source: Projected/reported esports audience size using data from Newzoo

Though there has been upsurge in viewers on online content platforms, the impact on events means the number of esports specific viewers could arguably be lower than forecast.

Important to note however is that the esports growth anticipated is for the sector as a whole and each game’s esports scene varies significantly.

As aforementioned in the esports revenue changes, many significant large events did not take place. Additionally, several esports franchises saw declines in viewership year-on-year as shown later:

  • Overwatch League saw significant viewership drop in 2020 compared to 2019.
  • Hearthstone esports saw a reduction in average peak viewers.

[1] Newzoo “the eSports Economy” 11 June 2015 igaming webinar

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