Global esports revenues will hit $1.1 billion in 2019, up 27 percent since last year amid ballooning revenues from advertising, sponsorship and media rights to competitive video gaming, industry analytics firm Newzoo reports.
Brand investments through those three avenues will make up 82 percent - or $897 million - of total revenues. In all, brand support will have nearly tripled since 2015, according to Newzoo.
Esports is a form of competitive video gaming with multiple players battling against each other usually in teams, often in matches that are streamed live to throngs of young fans.
Esports has burst into the mainstream, with its own superstars and leagues, celebrity athlete owners and tournaments that sell out stadiums and award prizes worth millions of dollars. League of Legends, Dota 2 and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive are some of the most popular esports.
“This is not experimental budgets. This is for the long term, and it’s good amounts of money,” said Newzoo CEO Peter Warman said. “It’s what the ecosystem needed and what investors wanted to see.”
Activision Blizzard’s Overwatch League named Coca-Cola Co as its official global beverage sponsor for non-alcoholic drinks on Friday.
The game developer also inked sponsorship deals with carmaker Toyota Motor Corp, wireless provider T-Mobile US Inc, computing companies HP Inc. and Intel.
North America will generate $409 million of esports revenues in 2019, the most of any region, Newzoo’s report found. China will generate 19 percent and South Korea 6 percent, with the rest of the world comprising the remaining 38 percent.
While advertising is the bulk of revenue, merchandise and ticket sales are also expected to grow 22 percent to nearly $104 million, though game publisher fees will likely drop 3 percent to $95 million, the report showed.
The total audience - comprised of both enthusiasts and occasional viewers - is expected to grow 15 percent to 454 million.
By 2022, total global esports revenues could be $1.8 billion, Newzoo found.