While the coronavirus pandemic caused every major US sports league to suspend its season, esports resumed relatively quickly. Leagues pivoted from competing inside venues to an online-only format where teams and production crews operated remotely. Esports received a good deal of media attention as a result, but very few viewers in the US said they turned to esports in lieu of sports cancellations, nor was esports a significant part of increased time spent with media during the pandemic.
How has the pandemic changed our outlook on US esports ad revenues?
Our updated ad revenue forecast for 2020 is only about $3 million lower than previously expected. Despite any short-term struggles from large advertising downturns, the outlook for esports remains positive. This year, US esports ad revenues will still grow 12% to $196 million.
How big is the US esports audience?
We expect there will be more than 35 million monthly esports viewers in the US this year, up 10.6% year over year. This forecast was completed prior to the outbreak of the coronavirus in the US, but survey data indicates that the pandemic won’t affect these figures.
How are marketers approaching esports?
Esports is growing to resemble traditional sports more closely, creating more opportunities for sponsorships and advertising. Still, most esports marketers believe that digital video advertising and influencer collaborations are the most alluring aspects.
What is the long-term impact of esports’ “moment in the spotlight” during the COVID-19 pandemic?
Despite the media attention, surveys conducted throughout the pandemic found that few respondents were spending more time watching esports. But the mainstream exposure has increased awareness around esports, and that could have a positive impact on viewership over time.
WHAT’S IN THIS REPORT? This report breaks down our forecast for US esports ad revenues and viewership, as well as the expanding opportunities for marketers.
KEY STAT: US ad spending on esports will grow by 12% in 2020, reaching $196 million. This number is about $3 million lower than previously expected since the pandemic led us to lower our estimates for all video advertising.
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