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Esports Now a US$1.1 Billion Industry

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Currys PC World has come out with new research that the esports industry is currently worth US$1.1 billion, and could reach US$1.8 billion by 2022.

The growth of the industry is largely due to sponsors, who make up US$456 million of the billion-dollar industry in revenues in the last year. Some of the most high-profile sponsorships include Red Bull, BMW, basketball player Michael Jordon, and rapper Drake.

Over the last five years, esports revenue has tripled from SU$325 million, and audience size has quadrupled from 120 million to 495 million, the same research found.

Gaming audience growing thanks to COVID-19 lockdown

Online streaming platforms, like Twitch and YouTube, have become popular with esports gamers, allowing them to showcase their skills from the comforts of their own homes. It also allows fans to tune in from anywhere in the world to catch the action ‘live’, or at repeated broadcasts on their own preferred time.

This has definitely helped the growth in the industry in a time of the coronavirus pandemic. While COVID-19 has forced other sporting events (including ‘live’ esports tournaments) to cancel because of safe-distancing measures, these alternate platforms have seen an increase of up to 20 per cent in the number of hours streamed during lockdown.

Making bank with esports

Esports tournaments are also offering huge financial prizes to esports athletes, as sponsorships increase because of the growing number of viewers per game. Top esports players have the potential to earn in the millions. In 2019, players in the US won US$41.3 million, followed by players in China who won US$18.5 million in winnings, and South Korea with US$16.5 million. The highest earning team, Team Liquid from the Netherlands, won US$34.9 million in prize money last year through 1,706 tournaments.

Lack of women in the industry

While esports is a thriving industry, it is still seeing a lack of gender diversity. There are no women in the top 100 ranked esports players in the world, despite the growing numbers of women taking up gaming.

“Women are still hugely underrepresented in professional gaming and esports, but that’s hardly surprising given that it’s taken time for women to become more visible in the wider industry,” says Aoife Wilson, head of video at Eurogamer in an interview with Yahoo Finance.

Lemur Legal wrote about the challenges faced by women in esports and why these are deterrents to getting more women ranked in world championships. Since the field has been mostly male dominated, there is a lack of role models in esports for female gamers to look up to. Within the industry itself that does not involve gaming, e.g., management, there is also a lack of women taking up junior to leadership roles.

But, Wilson shared that it isn’t just a matter of hiring a lot of women in junior roles to fix the problem: “There needs to be women working in every facet, every sector of the industry”. He believes this will encourage women to look at professional gaming and esports as a viable and welcoming place for them to work and forge a career.

 

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