At the moment, Esports has sparked broad attention and focus. That's because the esports sector has grown exponentially over the last decade and now boasts enormous audience and participation figures. This article aims to examine the growth of this sector and the potential effect on India's sports industry.
There are many misconceptions and misunderstandings about what esports is and what its business entails, therefore it is essential to define the concept. Esports began as a subset of the gaming business but has grown to the point that it is now its own sector. Esports, according to Techopedia, are "competitive first-person shooter games, massively multiplayer online role-playing games, or even basic logic or action games, as long as there is a competitive component."
India’s Growth in Esports Industry
Esports is nothing more than competitive gaming, and the growth of esports has attracted followers who are interested in not just gaming but also in watching tournaments and leagues. In 2019, Esports viewership reached about 458.8 million people globally, a 15% increase year over year (Newzoo - 2019 Global Esports Market Report, 2019). The League of Legends World Championship in 2019 was an esports event with a record-breaking viewership of over 100 million. The majority of these fans accessed the game through streaming platforms such as Twitch and YouTube. By contrast, the Super Bowl drew 100.7 million viewers across the NFL's digital platforms and CBS the same year. Statista estimates the global esports viewership size.
India was previously absent from the esports scene until 2018. The emergence of PUBG Mobile resulted in the esports revolution in India, establishing the country as a significant worldwide market for esports. India dominates the PUBG Mobile rankings in terms of both player numbers and viewership. India boasts the world's biggest young population, increasing mobile use, and affordable internet access, making it a huge opportunity for mobile gaming.
India has been holding massive international and national esports events since 2018, the most notable of which being DreamHack Delhi, ESL One: Mumbai, COBX Masters, and PUBG Mobile Indian Series. The overall prize pool increased by 180 percent to $1.5 million in 2019, up from $288.3K in 2017. (2019, Esports Observer)
In India, esports viewing and streaming are also very popular. “Mortal” is a massive esports influencer in the nation as a former esports player turned caster. He has about 6 million followers on YouTube and each video receives up to 15 million views. Numerous such players have established internet communities and fan bases in the nation.
As mobile games gain popularity and Indian players and teams rise in significance, substantial funding from sponsors will ultimately flow in, substantially boosting income.
Increase in Esports AudienceAccording to a research conducted by DataReportals on the Global Esports Audience, 32% of the esports audience is between the ages of 16-24, while 30% is between the ages of 25-34. According to a BARC study on Indian Sports Leagues, the bulk of viewers for the most popular Indian leagues are between the ages of 31-50. The next significant demographic for traditional sports is between the ages of 15 and 30. Clearly, there is considerable overlap in terms of target audiences. As a consequence, sports assets will compete for the same target audience. This may represent a risk to traditional Indian sports in the long term for the following reasons.
Apart from Esports, there are conventional games that rely on lottery participation to draw an audience. These traditional games appeal to an unfamiliar audience with technology and rely on traditional methods of earning money. These lotteries are held in 13 states in India. Lottery Sambad is a Nagaland State Lottery with bumper offer of upto 1 crore. Another regulated archery-based lottery game is played in regions of Shillong and Khanapara, the Teer Result is published at 3:00 PM and 3:45 PM. These lotteries' primary objective is to enhance the quality of life in those states. These lotteries are conducted regularly, with results published daily.
In terms of audience and sponsorship income, the growth of esports in the nation will generate extra competition for athletic assets. It will come down to who interacts and has the most influence on the intended audience.
The degree of fan involvement is much higher in esports, and audience growth is very rapid. Eventually, companies will see the value of these figures, and esports may get a greater share of sponsorship revenue.
The majority of businesses are attempting to reach Gen Z and Millennials. Marketers find it more challenging to keep their intended audience interested as their attention spans continue to shrink. These target groups are the core of the esports audience and are very engaged in the sector. As a result, brands are expected to place a considerably higher premium on sponsoring esports assets.
With India's capabilities in mobile gaming and the influx of global esports players, we will ultimately produce world-class esports athletes capable of competing at the top levels. Following Cricket, we have the most significant potential for worldwide success in esports. As a result, it reaches a worldwide audience in a way that most conventional sports do not.
Another benefit that esports has over traditional sports is the ease with which grassroots organizations may be formed. We certainly fall short in several areas, just as traditional sports do, but it will be far simpler to develop grassroots for esports than it would be for other sports. This is because children are already acquainted with and involved in gaming, and its reach is considerably greater and broader than that of different sports.
While esports has many benefits over conventional sports, their development may not be simple. Acceptance of esports over traditional sports on a social and political level will not be simple and may take years or decades. However, it is fair to conclude that the future is digital and that the future is esports.
This is not to say that it would endanger the development of conventional sports. This simply means they will compete for the same audience, companies, and sponsorships. The growth of esports in the nation will open up many opportunities for the future; in the long term, we may even witness a fusion of the two!
Disclaimer: This content is sponsored. No TNIE Group journalist is involved in its creation.