The global games live-streaming audience will reach 728.8 million by the end of 2021, a +10% increase over 2020’s audience number. The pandemic has certainly accelerated the growth of the live-streaming audience, but a stabilization is expected once the pandemic subsides, according to Newzoo’s “2021 Global E-sports and Live Streaming Market” report.
The investigation revealed that audience growth rates will progressively return to their more natural levels by 2024, when the live-streaming audience total will hit 920.3 million. Nevertheless, emerging markets and regions will stay on their path of double-digit growth.
This growth will also be driven by mobile gaming’s popularity in Latin America, the Middle-East and Africa, Central Southern Asia, APAC, and Southeast Asia. Countries in these regions (especially China) are pushing the streaming audience ever-closer toward the one-billion mark— a feat that seemed unfathomable even five years ago.
E-sports are also on track for healthy audience growth. In fact, the global e-sports audience will grow to 474.0 million in 2021, a year-on-year growth of +8.7%. E-sports enthusiasts — those who watch more than once a month — will account for just under half of this number (234 million), also growing +8.7% year on year.
Like in the steaming ecosystem, growth markets will drive future much (but not all) of e-sports’ future audience growth. Ongoing infrastructure developments are continuing to empower residents in these areas. Another factor in the strong audience growth is mobile, which has now entered the upper echelon of the e-sports market.
As ever and despite pandemic-related challenges, the growing e-sports audience and engagement will trickle into increased spending. Global e-sports revenues will hit just shy of $1.1 billion by the end of 2021, a year-on-year growth of +14.5% from 2020’s $947.1 million.
In 2021, $833.6 million in revenues — over three-quarters of the total market — will come from media rights and sponsorship. These revenue streams alone will exceed $1.1 billion by 2024. The instability caused by the pandemic, however, has negatively impacted some key e-sports revenue streams. The cancelation of in-person events diminished ticket revenues while also having a knock-on effect on merchandise across the board.
“The pandemic has undoubtedly underlined the resilience of regional ecosystems for the wider e-sports market, which may shift strategies and ensure a more secure e-sports market for the future. What’s more, team organizations are beginning to diversify more, which may also foster a more stable market for the years to come,” the report concludes.