• Chinese internet users lead global esports consumption at 26%
  • 8-9% of Denmark and Sweden internet users consume esports
  • Platforms Twitch and YouTube lead the markets, according to analyst Hazel Ford

esports player

Global esports: Chinese audiences which are “huge and highly engaged”

Nordic countries top Europe and Western markets with one in four internet users choosing esports games over other media, according to research from Ampere Analysis. 

China leads the world for esports viewers with 26% of its internet users found to have watched esports services in the last month, based on Ampere Analysis’s consumer polling from Q3 2019.

Overall, esports viewing has grown globally, however, Ampere found that Western countries lag far behind Chinese audiences which are “huge and highly engaged”.

Denmark and Sweden lead European usage, with 8-9% of Internet users watching esports on at least a monthly basis.

The Scandinavia regional entertainment group Modern Times Group (MTG) has made numerous investments in the esports and gaming world. MTG currently controls several competitions and leagues, including ESL and DreamHack.

Figures from Ampere’s consumer polling research in Q3 2019 found high profile tournaments have drawn in huge numbers globally.

The 2019 Fortnite World Cup reached 20 million global viewers on Amazon-owned Twitch and the FIFA 19 eWorld Cup amassed 50 million global viewers across platforms including YouTube.

The League of Legends 2018 World Championship alone had a concurrent audience of 203 million in China compared with just 2 million in the rest of the world.

Ampere found audiences in Western countries are still substantial despite China’s dominance. Between 5-9% of Internet users in developed Western markets typically watch esports on a monthly basis via online streaming services.

The largest demographic group globally is males aged 18-34 who are typically highly engaged with video content and are tech-savvy. However, this demographic is moving away from traditional stereotypes and less likely to view any content via broadcast TV channels.

Some 25% of audiences are more likely to subscribe to at least one subscription video on demand (SVoD) platform.

Ampere found in Q3 2019, 35% of those watching esports in the last month were female, 40% are over 35 and 33% live with young children.

In China, the gender mix is more balanced; 43% of esports viewers are female.

Ampere Analysis analyst Hazel Ford said: The rise of esports viewing on a global scale presents a potentially lucrative opportunity for new and existing players.

“Platforms such as Twitch and YouTube are currently market leaders but face growing competition from a number of newcomers, including the developers themselves.

“As with the traditional sports world, exclusive rights deals will become crucial for platforms looking to control high growth esports audiences.”

Amazon-owned Twitch is the principal platform for esports viewing, hosting a variety of channels through which fans can engage with their favourite games and gamers.

However, developers have also begun to explore hosting tournaments via their own platforms – relying on the popularity of their games to drive viewership; Tencent-owned Riot Games’ streaming service, Pro View, is specifically built for their League of Legends tournaments.

Twitch has a scale advantage and has struck exclusive third-party streaming rights for events including the Overwatch League through a deal with developer Blizzard.