Almost a billion people around the world are watching esports tournaments.
According to a report from DataReportal which uses data from GlobalWebIndex, esports audiences have grown by 50% over the past year. Almost a quarter (22%) of all internet users say they have watched a video game tournament in recent months.
The majority of these viewers are, unsurprisingly, younger people. Of the internet users who watch esports tournaments, 62% are aged 16-34 (32% 16-24, 30% 25-34).
The report points out that while the audience of 1 billion people is still some way shy of the 3.5 billion people who watch the Olympics or the FIFA World Cup, the esports audience is already double the size of the global audience for Formula 1, eight times bigger than the TV audience for the baseball World Series, and 10 times the size of the 2019 Superbowl’s audience.
Geographically, the audience is more skewed towards Asia. China is in the lead with 40% of internet users saying they’ve recently watched an esports tournament. Vietnam is in second with 33%, followed by the Philippines (29%), Indonesia (26%) and Thailand (25%). Turkey is the highest ranked European nation at 16%.
The majority of the west is significantly far behind the curve, with the USA, the UK, Italy, Germany and the Netherlands all having fewer than 10% of internet users watching esports.
The research also looked at the percentage of internet users who say they’ve recently watched a live stream of other people playing video games (that is to say, streamers rather than professionally produced esports tournaments).
Asia is still ahead here, with 49% of users in the Philippines saying they watch live streams and a global average of 29%.
The west fares better here, with the aforementioned nations having between 10-15% of internet users viewing live streams.
Platform-wise Twitch is the clear leader with 140 million monthly active users and 15 million people tuning in every day.