Esports streaming has boomed in popularity over the last 12 months according to an analysis of platforms like Twitch, YouTube Gaming and Mixer that found a 41% increase in streaming.
The analysis from StreamHatchet, which provides insight for key players in the esports and gaming space and is sort of like ComScore but for video game streaming, found an incredible 746 million more hours watched compared to the previous year.
The power of esports has been demonstrated by a few large-scale events in 2019. In June, United Talent Agency announced it had added Travis Mynard, formerly of Riot Games, to its burgeoning esports management division. Microsoft’s streaming service Mixer became the top free app on Apple’s App Store following Tyler “Ninja” Blevins’ August announcement that he was leaving Twitch to join the rival platform. Just five days after announcing the move, Ninja revealed he already had 1 million Mixer subscribers.
Also in August, ESPN postponed its broadcast coverage of the X Games “Apex Legends” EXP Invitational that was originally scheduled to air on the network due to the recent mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio. In “Apex Legends,” players collect weapons and shoot one another until there is only one player or team left standing.
That ESPN airs multiplayer video game competitions at all should be evidence enough that esports are a big business, but valued at $1 billion, it’s only getting bigger.
“The move of fans and audience from real to virtual sports is also a surprising trend and one that the real sports need to get a handle on, or they will head to obscurity against digital native experiences like esports,” StreamHatchet co-founder Eduard Montserrat told TheWrap.
Darren Cox, president and CEO of Millennial Esports, agreed, telling TheWrap, “While esports is now starting to get mainstream TV exposure on networks like ESPN, the audience’s initial growth came online and created streaming networks like Twitch. The interesting thing is that is esports is starting to appear on traditional TV networks and Twitch is looking to expand its streaming offerings further with regular sports like the NFL and NBA. The traditional networks are looking to gaming, and the game streaming networks are looking at traditional sport. The end result – you’ll see esports become more and more mainstream.”