Nielsen is officially climbing into the competitive-gaming arena.
The research and measurement firm announced the launch of Nielsen Esports, a new business unit within Nielsen Entertainment focused on the rapidly growing sector. Nielsen Esports will deliver global research on sponsorship valuation and eSports audiences, as well as consulting services.
For the new unit Nielsen has created an eSports advisory board with reps from ESL, ESPN, Facebook, FIFA, Major League Gaming and Activision Blizzard, NBA 2K League, the Next Level, Sony PlayStation, Turner, Twitch, Twitter, Unilever, and YouTube.
Nielsen Esports will be led by two execs who are expanding their roles within the Nielsen Entertainment group: Stephen Master, managing director of Nielsen Sports North America, and Nicole Pike, VP of Nielsen Games.
ESports is hot — and growing on a hockey-stick trajectory. In 2017, sector revenue is expected to increase 41%, to $696 million, hitting $1.5 billion by 2020, according to estimates by Amsterdam-based research firm Newzoo. The global audience of core eSports fans will hit 191 million in 2017, growing 50% by 2020 to 286 million, Netzoo predicts.
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According to Nielsen Esports research, nearly one in three eSports fans today say they began following competitive gaming in the past year.
“There’s a high demand for reliable, independent measurement of value in esports,” said Nielsen Entertainment president Howard Appelbaum.
Products in the Nielsen Esports portfolio include Esport24, a syndicated sponsorship-tracking service for eSports tournaments. Playoff rounds of major tournaments this year have yielded anywhere from $75,000 to almost $17 million in sponsorship value, according to the company’s analysis. Nielsen Esports also will release research on the global fanbase throughout the year, spanning the U.S., U.K., Germany, France, Japan, South Korea and China in 2017.
(Pictured above: ESL’s Intel Extreme Masters tournament in Katowice, Poland.)