Esports is an industry on the rise, but could its popularity surpass traditional sports in the not so distant future?
Legal and illegal wagering on esports is expected to reach $6.7 billion this year and could eclipse $13 billion in 2020. Those numbers are not on par with any of the professional sports leagues, but it shows a growing industry. According to online bookmaker, Betway, esports fans will outnumber those of the NBA, 500 million to 400 million by 2020 when 11 billion hours will be spent watching esports.
Trends have already tilted toward the popularity of esports. Limelight Networks states gamers between the ages of 18-25 spend three hours and 25 minutes online watching others play video games. The same grouping watches traditional sports for two hours and 33 minutes per week, a 25% decline from time occupied viewing esports.
The increased esports audience has also caught the eye of advertisers with the industry garnering big-brand sponsors. A Forbes report from earlier this year predicts 2018 will see revenue generated from esports reach $1 billion and $1.65 billion in 2021.
We have seen professional leagues and franchises enter the esports industry, with NBA Commissioner Adam Silver even announcing the first pick of the NBA 2K League draft just last week. It might not be long before esports fans begin to outnumber those of traditional professional sports.