As the esports economy surpasses one billion euros (Wanda Sports Group IPO, 2019), more sports organisations are flocking to the lucrative gaming revolution.
How will the esports industry evolve in 2020? What opportunities should new and existing market players look out for? Here are the top trends expected to help drive record growth and participation this year.
Growth across more sports
The FIFA eWorld Cup enjoyed record audiences while fans watched one billion hours of content during the League of Legends 2019 World Championship. In 2020, more traditional federations and rights holders will embrace gaming. Esports offer increased brand recognition, new revenue from broadcasting and streaming, stronger social media and fan engagement, and additional sponsorship and advertising.
National and international competitions
Mirroring their traditional counterparts, more esports franchises will build well-structured national and international competitions. For example, in 2020, pro and amateur gamers will compete for the first eSerie A titles as the top Italian football division joins a growing number of sports bodies entering the fray.
Traditional sports organisations will adopt innovation from esports, such as fan engagement, streaming and event experience. Esports have led the way in content, streaming, social media and event management. We expect further cross-pollination of this pioneering approach across traditional sports as fans and partners demand enhanced experiences and greater value.
Media rights boom
We are on the cusp of a media rights boom in esports. Research estimates that esports media rights revenues will grow by more than 500% between 2016 and 2020 in Europe alone (Newzoo White Paper: An Overview of esports in Europe). We expect media rights in esports to soar as broadcasters seek exclusivity in a market that attracts hundreds of millions of fans each year (Wanda Sports Group IPO, 2019).
The market for digital content, image and player rights will continue to professionalise and gain in value as earnings rise, audiences grow and more pro teams emerge, alongside the prospect of more IPOs. Private equity and venture capital firms will also drive the market, following an estimated €1.76 billion of disclosed investment in 2019 in the esports industry (esportsobserver.com).
Sponsorship makes up more than half of total esports revenue (Wanda Sports Group IPO, 2019), with advertising accounting for almost a fifth (Newzoo 2019 Global esports Market Report). More brands will realise the value of supporting successful esports teams - as well as events - including those aligned with traditional sports clubs and competitions.