Once upon a time, eSports was just a subset of the billion-dollar gaming market. Today, with the rise of technology, the Covid-19 pandemic and the integration of sports and video games with live streaming, pop culture and influencer marketing, eSports has grown into an industry of its own.
But how big is the eSports market, what do we know about the players and the audience, and which are the most popular games played?
Let’s take a look at these eSports statistics and find out!
eSports Industry Statistics
1. 435.9 million people watched eSports in 2020.
According to the latest statistics for eSports viewers, numbers are set to rise to 474 million in 2021 (an 8.7% year-on-year increase). The projected growth over the coming period is even more impressive as Newzoo expects a total of 577.2 million eSports viewers worldwide by 2024.
2. More people watch eSports than Formula 1 racing.
Although the number of eSports viewers doesn’t come close to the 3.5 billion people who watch the football World Cup, eSports viewership statistics should not be underestimated. In fact, it is reported that the global esport audience is eight times bigger than the number of people who watch the baseball World Series on television and ten times larger than the TV audience of the 2019 Super Bowl.
3. There will be 234 million eSports enthusiasts around the world by the end of 2021.
eSports viewership statistics show us that in just one year between 2019 and 2020, the number of global eSports enthusiasts grew by an incredible 18.4 million (from 197 million in 2019 to 215.4 million the following year). What’s more, the latest eSports fan statistics predict that the share of regular viewers will increase by another 51.7 million over the next three years, reaching a whopping 285.7 million by 2024.
4. 220.5 million people around the globe watch eSports occasionally.
Judging by eSports viewing statistics, the number of people who watch eSports from time to time has been rising steadily over the years. For instance, in 2020, there were 19.7 million more occasional viewers than in 2019, when their number stood at 200.8 million. Future forecasts point to another increase—going up to 291.6 million occasional eSports viewers around the globe by 2024.
5. The global eSports market will be worth $1.1 billion by the end of 2021.
Surprisingly, between 2019 and 2020, there was a slight 1.1% decline in revenue in the eSports market. It went from $957.5 million in 2019 to $947.1 million the next year. On the other hand, the global eSports market is forecast to grow at a rate of 14.5%, increasing by $152.9 million between 2020 and 2021, which will lead to an estimated $1.1 billion in revenue by the end of the year.
Additionally, as per eSports market statistics and facts, revenue will continue to grow at a CAGR of 11.1% in the following years and reach $1.62 billion by 2024.
Currently, Asia and North America are the leading eSports markets in terms of revenue. China alone is estimated to bring in $360.1 million, making up for almost a fifth of the market.
6. The biggest share of eSports revenue comes from sponsorships.
In 2021, the global eSports market revenue from advertising and sponsorships was estimated at $641 million. The second highest source of income will be media rights with a projected $192.6 million in revenue, followed by publisher fees ($126.6 million) and merchandise & ticket sales ($66.6 million). Revenue from streaming, despite its recent popularity, should total $25.1 million, the lowest of all segments.
7. The eSports sector in the UK grew by 8.5% between 2016 and 2019.
The eSports market in Britain is growing at an accelerated rate. At the moment, it provides 1,200 jobs, but a global eSports event held in the UK could create 238 full-time positions as well as generate £12 million for the sector.
8. eSports awareness has been on the rise since 2015.
(Influencer Marketing Hub)
eSports popularity statistics show that the number of people who have heard about electronic sports is growing at a neck-breaking speed, rising from just 800,000 people in 2015 to more than a billion in 2019. More specifically, global awareness of eSports grew from 1.28 billion in 2017 to 1.43 billion in 2018 and 1.8 billion by the following year.
9. By 2025, there will be 548.2 million mobile eSports viewers around the world.
Mobile eSports, as well as mobile gambling, has seen incredible growth recently. Namely, mobile eSports audiences statistics show the number of viewers totalled 418 million in 2019, a figure set to increase to 548.2 million by 2025. The majority of these viewers, or 173.8 million, are expected to come from China.
10. eSports watching hours increased by 2.8 billion during the Covid pandemic.
Unsurprisingly, statistics about watching eSports reveal that the Covid pandemic drastically increased the number of hours spent watching eSports from 4.8 billion in the first quarter to 7.6 billion in the second quarter of 2020. Even more impressive, these stats refer only to four eSports platforms: Twitch, YouTube, Facebook and Mixer. The same report indicates that Twitch saw the biggest increase—jumping from 3.1 billion watch hours in Q1 to 5.1 billion in the second quarter.
11. The majority of people who watch eSports are between the ages of 16 and 24.
When it comes to age, statistics on eSports indicate that the younger generations are bigger fans. Thus 32% of internet users who have watched eSports fall in the 16 to 24 age bracket, while 30% belong to the 25 to 34 age group. By contrast, only 10% and 6% of net users who have watched eSports are aged 45 to 54 and 55 to 64, respectively.
12. Almost a third of eSports viewers are women.
(NBC News) (Sports Integrity Initiative)
A disparity in terms of men vs women. 30% of viewers and 35% of players are females, 2019 women in eSports statistics report. In terms of viewership, this is a 7% increase compared to a few years ago when only 23% of eSports fans were female.
13. 40% of the eSports tournament viewers come from China.
Asian countries are the leaders in terms of eSports tournament viewers. From eSports gaming statistics, we learn that most viewers come from China (40%), Vietnam (33%), the Philippines (29%) and Indonesia (26%).
On the other hand, the countries with the least eSports tournament viewers include the UK, the USA, Japan, Germany and Belgium with 6%, followed by Austria, Switzerland, Netherlands and Australia with 5%.
eSports Players Statistics
14. Team Liquid has won the most prize money throughout their eSports career.
Based on statistics on eSports teams, Team Liquid from the Netherlands leads the pack, having won $36.7 million during their career. European team OG is the second biggest winner with $34.42 million, and in third place are the Evil Geniuses from Seattle, Washington, with a total of $24.47 million in prize money won.
15. Team SoloMid is the most valuable eSports team.
TSM earned $45 million in revenue last year, half of which came from eSports. The team’s estimated value stands at $410 million, higher than any of the other names on the list.
Up next is Cloud9, with a $350 million value and $30 million in revenue, 70% of which were eSports earnings. Finally, the third most valuable team right now is Team Liquid. Valued at $310 million, 89% of this team’s $28 million revenue comes from eSports.
16. DrNykterstein was the highest-earning eSports player for 2020.
Judging by statistics of eSports players, gaming can be a lucrative career. In 2020 alone, Norwegian DrNykterstein (Sven Magnus Carlsen) won an estimated $510.59 thousand playing online chess. Following right behind him are Honor of Kings player Jiang “Adou” Tao and Arena of Valor players NuanYang (Lin Heng), ShenRen (Ma Tengfei), and Zhou “QianShi” Kuan, all of whom made approximately $484.97 thousand from eSports last year.
17. Johan Sundstein is the highest-earning eSports player.
Danish player Johan Sundstein, also known as N0tail, has earned an estimated $6.97 million throughout his gaming career. This puts him slightly ahead of second-ranked Jesse Vainikka (JerAx), who has $6.47 million in overall earnings. Third on the list is Anathan Pham (ana), with around 6 million US dollars earned. Dota 2 is the highest paying game for all three of these players, accounting for over 90% of their earnings.
18. Sasha Hostyn tops the list of highest-paid female eSports players.
On the other hand, female eSports player statistics reveal that the most successful woman in eSports is Canadian Sasha Hostyn (Scarlett), who’s earned $401 thousand, mostly through playing StarCraft II. She is followed by Li, Xiao Meng, aka Liooon, with cumulative earnings of $240 thousand, and Katherine Gunn (Mystik), who has won $122 thousand during her gaming career.
eSports Tournaments Statistics
19. The International is the biggest eSports tournament in the world.
The annual world championship tournament for Dota 2 is the biggest prize pool tournament in the world of eSports. The latest competition was held in August 2019 in Shnagian, and the prize pool was an amazing $34.33 million.
According to eSports championship statistics, the Fortnite World Cup is second in line. Held every year in New York, this competition comes with a prize pool of $30 million. Ranked third is the Intel Extreme Masters, which is also the longest running pro-gaming tour in the world. It has a prize pool of $1 million.
20. The 2021 Free Fire World Series is the most-watched eSports event.
Logging in 5.41 million peak viewers, the Free Fire World Series held in 2021 in Singapore was the most-watched eSports event of all time. The second most-viewed championship was the League of Legends 2019 World Championship (3.99 million), closely followed by the LoL Championship in 2020 (3.88 million).
21. CS:GO was the biggest tournament in the first half of 2021.
With a cumulative tournament prize pool of $7.98 million, Counter-Strike:Global Offensive was the highest-paying eSports competition in the first six months of 2021, eSports statistics indicate. Other tournaments that made it on the list of the highest-paying championships include PUBG ($7.8 million), Fortnite ($6.12 million) and Dota 2 ($5.42 million).
Most Popular Live Streaming Games
22. League of Legends was the most popular esport discipline in 2020.
LoL, raking up a whopping 580.9 million hours, was the most-watched eSports game on all the major streaming platforms.
Growing by 25% from the previous year, Counter-Strike:Global Offensive is next, with 354.2 million hours watched and one million peak viewers. Dota 2 (253.3 million hours watched), PUBG Mobile (134.5 million), and Garena Free Fire (132.2 million) complete the list of the top five games in 2020.
23. League of Legends has the most views on Twitch—42.55 billion.
As 2021 eSports streaming statistics show, League of Legends has over 40 billion views on Twitch, making it the most popular game on the platform of all time. This game has almost double the views of Fortnite, which ranks second with 25.16 billion views. Counter-Strike: Global Offensive with 19.14 billion views is in third place, while Grand Theft Auto V (17.53 billion views) and Dota 2 (17.15 billion) round off the five most popular live streaming games on Twitch.
24. Minecraft had 201 billion views on YouTube last year.
(YouTube Official Blog)
Seeing as how 2020 was the year of lockdowns, it’s not surprising that statistics about eSports and YouTube show incredibly high figures. Thus, YouTube users logged in an amazing 100 billion hours of gaming content, with Minecraft leading the way with 201 billion views. Minecraft is followed by Roblox (75 billion views), Garena Free Fire (72 billion views), Grand Theft Auto V (70 billion views) and Fortnite (67 billion views).
25. The end of 2021 will bring a live-streaming audience numbering 728.8 million.
The Covid pandemic certainly had an impact on the rising number of live eSports audiences, eSports streaming statistics prove. That is why 2021 should see a 10% increase in the number of live streamers, i.e. going up from 662.7 million in 2020 to 728.8 million. Additionally, a 9.2% increase is expected in the following three years, with the live-streaming audience hitting 920.3 million.
eSports Platforms Statistics
26. In the second quarter of 2020, people spent 5.1 billion hours watching eSports on Twitch.
(Strive Cloud) (eSports BAR)
Twitch is by far the most popular platform for watching eSports. Of the total hours spent watching eSports around the world, 65% “belong” to Twitch, which increased by 2 billion hours between the first and the second quarter of 2020.
In Q1 of 2020, around 1 billion hours were spent watching eSports on YouTube, taking up 22% of the total watched hours.
Next in line was Facebook, with 553.8 million hours (11%), and last but not least was Mixer, on which people spent 81.4 million hours, or 2% of the total hours spent on watching eSports in Q1 of 2020, eSports statistics show us.
27. Twitch was the number one streaming platform in Q1 2021.
Accounting for 72% of all hours watched in the first quarter of 2021, Twitch is the undisputed leader in the live streaming area. Twitch is not only the biggest but also saw the highest increase in hours watched—going up by 97% compared to Q1 2020.
28. Globally, 19.5 million hours of games were streamed on Facebook Gaming.
(Statista) (Influencer Marketing Hub)
Facebook Gaming has seen a 210% growth in hours watched over the course of just one year, going up to 356.24 million in 2019 from 114.75 million recorded in 2018. Furthermore, there has been a drastic increase in the hours spent streaming games between the first quarter of 2019 (2.1 million) and the same period in 2021 (19.5 million).
29. 106.24 million hours were spent watching games on Mixer before the platform shut down.
(Statista) (Dot eSports)
Mixer viewership, statistics about eSports reveal, peaked in the second quarter of 2019 when 113.3 million hours of gaming content was viewed. Sadly, numbers dropped in Q1 2020 to 81.4 million, making this platform lose its edg0e in the fiercely competitive market. The platform was eventually shut down by Microsoft in July 2020.
30. The most followed Twitch channel belongs to Ninja.
Ninja (Richard Tyler Belvins) became popular at the end of 2017 and the beginning of 2018, when he streamed the Fortnite Battle Royale, thus gaining 16.8 million followers. Further eSports streaming statistics put Tfue (Turner Tenney) with 10.5 million followers in second place.
Rubius, who has gained 9.5 million followers, is next, while the last two places in the top five are held by Shroud (9.4 million followers) and Auronplay (9.1 million).
31. PewDiePie is the most popular Youtube gaming channel.
Thanks to his 110 million subscribers, PewDiePie takes the lead when it comes to YouTube gaming channels. Next in line is JuegaGerman, with 44 million subscribers, whereas Fernanfloo comes in third with 42.6 million followers.
32. The official channel for Mobile Legends: Bang Bang is number one on Facebook Gaming.
According to the latest statistics about eSports, the most popular channel on Facebook Gaming with over 5.5 million hours watched is mplph.official (the official Mobile Legends: Bang Bang streamer) from the Philippines. Way behind in second place, with 2.97 million watched hours, is namblue from Vietnam, who streams PUBG Mobile. With 2.32 million watched hours, the third place is taken up by Babugamingoffi, who streams Grand Theft Auto V.
eSports Industry Growth Challenges
33. One of the main challenges to eSports growth is the absence of in-person events.
(Foley & Lardner)
The top challenge in eSports growth, the latest statistics suggest, is the inability to organise big in-person events. This was cited as the main issue by 77% of stakeholders who do not believe that the pandemic will help the market. Another 65% mentioned reduced spending on ads and sponsorships as the biggest barrier, whereas 46% referred to investors’ reluctance to put money in an uncertain market. This is in line with 31% who said they have issues raising capital from new investors.
34. 75% think that fixing matches and cheating might spell doom for eSports.
(Foley & Lardner)
75% of eSports viewers, as learned from statistics from the Annual eSports Survey by Foley & Lardner, think that fixing matches and cheating in eSports greatly threatens the legitimacy and growth of this industry. Even more concerning, this figure is a huge jump from 2019, when only 29% believed in fixed matches.
35. 60% believe that the small number of game developers is a serious challenge to the industry.
(Foley & Lardner)
Over half of respondents in the 2020 survey agreed that growth in the eSports industry is held back by the small number of game developers on the market. In fact, only 18% of interviewees did not see this as an issue.
Other barriers to growth include intellectual property/licensing issues (cited by 48% of respondents) and cybersecurity problems (selected by 41% of those surveyed). Last but not least, 40% said that cyberbullying within games is another obstacle to the growth of the eSports market.
Present and Future Trends
36. 6.5 million people around the world bet on eSports.
(BETANDBEAT) (eSports Insider)
Although eSports are relatively new, eSports betting statistics show they have become increasingly popular among punters as over 6 million people placed a wager on different disciplines in 2020.
Research from bookmaker LOOT.BET indicates that CS:GO was the most popular among bettors, taking up a chunk of 53% of the total amount of money placed with this sportsbook. 35% of the LOOT.BET bets were on Dota 2, and only 7% bet on League of Legends, eSports gambling statistics report.
37. Social distancing is one of the biggest drivers of growth within the eSports industry.
(Foley & Lardner)
61% of respondents in Foley & Lardner’s survey believe that social distancing will increase engagement with video games and eSports. Another 61% cite the expansion of live streaming platforms, and 52% mention the involvement of big brands in the market as the main growth drivers.
Electronic sports may be new on the scene, but as the eSports statistics above show, the sector is growing fast and strong. Fueled by the love of gaming, especially among the younger generations, technological advances, easily accessible platforms, and the Covid-19 pandemic, there is no doubt that the eSports industry will only grow bigger and more diverse in the future.