eSports Popularity Rising Rapidly in U.S.: Survey

More traditional American sports may need to be on the lookout: There is a new competitive addiction rising and its name is eSports.

eSports, or competitive gaming, has long been a phenomenon in Asia, but in the last couple of years Americans have begun to take up the events both as competition and spectator events. Games like “League of Legends,” “Dota 2,” “Counter-Strike: Global Offensive” and “Hearthstone” have gone from being fun hobbies too arena-filling, seven-figure prize pool events.

A U.S. national study, done by Frank N. Magid Associates, shows the massive uptick in eSports interest in the last few years. The study found that nearly 70% of Americans, from 8 to 64 years old, play some type of game, and of that group 18% have watched eSports online or attended an event. The year before that only 12% had watched or attended an eSports event and in 2013 it was only 9%. That is a growth rate of 100% in the last two years alone.

“I have watched eSports gamers grow from unknown kids with no money to their names, to a big business with paid teams and leagues, record-breaking stream numbers, 7-figure sponsorships, million-dollar prize winnings, and global media exposure,” Stan Press, managing director at Magid, said. “The eSports industry is primed to grow at an incredible pace over the next few years.”

eSports is being viewed as much more than just a fad that could blow away at any time. Companies and news outlets are both creating new ways to focus on the growing eSports community. ESPN recently launched a new vertical for its website and magazine specifically devoted to competitive-gaming coverage, while “Call of Duty” developer Activision hired Steve Bornstein, former CEO of ESPN and NFL Network, to be the chairman of its new eSports division.

“To me the storytelling was so compelling and so powerful,” Chad Millman, editor-in-chief of ESPN.com and ESPN The Magazine, said. “People were so engaged with the coverage. It felt like we were doing a disservice to ourselves and a disservice to the audience if we didn’t take this as serious as everything else.”

Popular on Variety

More Digital

  • 20190702_788LCDP_S4_tamaraarranz_DSC_9303.nef

    Spanish TV Industry Adjusts to Harsh Realities of the Coronavirus Crisis

    The Spanish TV industry has been shaken by the dramatic impact of the coronavirus crisis, but it is fighting back. Industry players have reacted fast, pushing forward with development, post-production and other business activities using online tools, and with the expectation of supporting funds from both public and private initiatives that will mitigate the effects [...]

  • Tiger King

    Global Content Trends Reveal Unscripted Boom, Surge in Female-Led Dramas

    Against the backdrop of a global pandemic, during which millions of self-isolating individuals are tuning into home entertainment, the trends shaping global content have never been more evident. Recent findings by London-based media research firm Ampere Analysis, which delivered a presentation as part of virtual event MIPTV Plus, reveals an unscripted boom among streamers (best [...]

  • Elton John's ‘Living Room Concert for

    Elton John's 'Living Room Concert for America' Now Streaming on YouTube

    YouTube is now streaming the benefit special “Fox Presents the iHeart Living Room Concert for America” through Wednesday at 10 p.m. ET on iHeartRadio’s YouTube Channel. The one-hour event, which debuted on Fox Sunday night, March 29, was created to help fight the spread of the coronavirus and to “celebrate the resilience and strength of [...]

  • MIDEM 2020 Conference Cancelled, Reboots as

    MIDEM 2020 Conference Cancelled, Reboots as Digital Edition

    Reed MIDEM announces that Midem 2020, which was due to take place June 2-5 in Cannes, is cancelled due to concerns about the coronavirus. The next edition of Midem will take place June 1-4, 2021, in Cannes, the organization said. “The situation related to the coronavirus is changing daily, as are government announcements and restrictions. [...]

  • Facebook

    Facebook Invests Additional $100 Million to Support News Industry During Coronavirus

    Social media giant Facebook is investing $100 million to support local news organizations during the coronavirus pandemic, in addition to its previous commitment to spend $300 million over a three-year period. Around $25 million of the new package will be emergency grant funding for local news via the Facebook Journalism Project. A further $75 million is [...]

  • Tiger King

    'Tiger King' Ranks as TV's Most Popular Show Right Now, According to Rotten Tomatoes

    Netflix has a tiger tale that has punched into the zeitgeist with “Tiger King,” stocked with a cast of real-life bizarre personalities and sinister plot twists. “Tiger Tale,” a true-crime-style docuseries that debuted March 20 on Netflix, ranks as the most popular current TV show, according to Rotten Tomatoes. It has a 97% critic’s rating [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content