1.2m adults in Britain watch esports, according to new research by Kantar

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The number of adults in Britain who say they watch esports and other competitive gaming events has risen from 815,000 in 2017 to 1.2m today, according to new report.

Research company Kantar ran an online survey of 1,000 people in Britain aged 16+ and used its ‘advanced profiling solution’ to link the findings with other data, as well as social media profiling and general research on the esports market.

Kantar’s TGI consumer data survey also revealed that 46% of esports viewers say advertising helps them choose what to buy – and 58% expect this advertising to be entertaining.

It added that 92% of esports consumers are ‘positively inclined’ to brand involvement and two-thirds (67%) say they appreciate ads for the legitimacy they bring to what is still a relatively niche platform.

In addition, it claimed that 77% of esports fans don’t pay to remove ads from game-related content and 55% are more willing to buy from brands which sponsor this type of content.

Elsewhere, the report claims that 8 out of 10 Twitch users watch esports livestreams. Twitch reported an increase from 292bn minutes of total viewing time in 2016, to 560bn in 2018. In 2019, that number had reached 451bn by September.

Kantar data also revealed that the winner of a recent Super Smash Bros esports tournament, sponsored by Red Bull, mentioned Red Bull in one of his Twitter posts, and that this resulted in a 169% increase in traffic for the brand plus an additional 1,399 individual shares of the Red Bull homepage.

Aside from the growth in viewers, data from Kantar’s social listening service revealed that followers of this year’s Fortnite World Cup winner were primarily made up of executives (28%) and creatives (26%), with IT professionals also making up 8% of the total.

Mark Inskip, CEO UK & Ireland of Kantar’s Media Division, commented: “Over recent years, the esports market has rapidly grown, almost beyond recognition. Today it presents a huge opportunity for brands ready and willing to step into the gaming ring. The great news for marketers is that esports fans are overwhelmingly positive in their sentiment towards advertising.

“Nonetheless, it remains imperative for brands to respect their audience. Those who come out on top will be the ones who fit seamlessly into the interactions their audiences are already enjoying and accurately measure their engagement, tailoring content to match their needs and interests.”  

There have been other reports attempting to capture UK esports data over the years. Some in the industry have questioned the accuracy and validity of such data, especially from research conducted with low audience sample sizes.

In 2017, YouGov said 35% of British adults (18.3 million people) are aware of esports, while 7% (3.6m) have watched it. In 2016, Newzoo said 6.5m people in the UK watch esports.

Elsewhere, Nielsen reported that Cloud9 are the most-followed esports org in the UK. And PWC claimed that esports in the UK generated revenues of £22m in 2018, up from £4m in 2014. Over the five years to 2023, PWC says revenue is projected to keep rising at a compound annual growth rate of 20.1%.

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