Is eSports the answer to attracting Millennials?

By Elise Tam | Consultant

Web-image_Is-eSports-the-answer-to-attracting-MillennialsMillennials are the most elusive generation for venues and as time goes on we will no longer be able to solely rely on the patronage of the older generations. As a result, attracting Millennials is more important than ever before – so what can be done to appeal to this generation?

eSports or electronic sports is a rising global phenomenon, particularly popular amongst Millennials. In fact, it was recently announced that eSports has been added to the official program as a medal winning event in the 2022 Asian Games in Hangzhou. Las Vegas has also recently built a 15,000 square foot eSports stadium, which opened on March 3rd 2017, with the capacity to host 200 people in the main seating area overlooking the stage and hundreds more in another area fitted with screens. The fan base is growing fast – in 2016 14% of Americans over the age of 13 were fans of eSports, which has grown from 8% in 2015. With an international major event attracting 40,000 viewers, and the global audience expected to reach 385.5 million people in 2017, could eSports be the key to connect venues with Millennials?

eSports is a multiplayer video game played by competitive professional gamers. Athletes are professional gamers or teams of professional gamers who play a particular video game, such as League of Legends, Halo, or FIFA, in a tournament or competition for a prize. Although, there are less major tournaments than traditional sports, a major event can attract 40,000 spectators and millions, or even billions more, online.

In Australia, there have been a few eSports tournaments, namely, the Oceanic Pro League (OPL) and Intel’s Extreme Masters (IEM). The 2015 OPL in Sydney attracted over 10,000 attendees (1,300 ticketed seats and live viewing locations), while the 2016 OPL in Brisbane held 2,000 people in the small arena. In Victoria, Crown Casino has also held two eSports event since October 2015, Crown’s  Counter-Strike Invitational and Call of Duty World League Division ANZ. The most recent eSports tournament, IEM, held the 6th and 7th of May at the Sydney’s Olympic Park, was packed with 10,000 spectators to watch professional Counter-Strike players. The prize pool was $260,000, with first prize of $100,000. This was a major step in the Australian eSports industry as previously, prize pools ranged from $10,000 to $60,000.

Although Australia has a strong gamer market, the eSport market is still in the beginning stages, with potential growth of the industry, which was worth almost $3 billion in 2016.

So, who is actually watching eSports?

Neilson research has shown that in the United States, 71% spectators viewed eSports online, 40% viewed on TV and 23% have attended an event in person. Most research has been conducted in the United States and many researchers (Deliotte, Neilson, newzoo) have identified Millennials as the main spectators of eSports, with emphasis on those aged between 18 and 35. Deliotte reports that 75% of the spectators are Millennials and 82% are male. Perhaps their interest in eSports stems from their childhood (often High School) when they would play in the games after school and watch other players on YouTube channels? eSports engagement seems to also be replacing hours spent on viewing other traditional sports with fans spending approximately four hours per week on eSport related activity or entertainment.

Australia has 1.5 million followers of eSports, which is a third of the followers of cricket (the most followed sport in the nation) and similar number of followers with golf, netball, horseracing and cycling.

With the growth of eSports, eSport betting is also becoming more popular and its popularity is growing among betters between 21 and 35 years old. Nielsen reports show that 61% of eSport betters are Millennials. Various channels in Australia are providing eSports wagering, including sportsbet.com.au, ladsbrokes, and bet365.

eSports seems to attract younger audiences, which is a challenge for many venues. Will providing services and facilities that engage with eSports attract younger audiences to venues? And will that encourage them to utilise the facilities currently on offer at the venue? There is only one way to find out. For more information about how you can incorporate eSports into your venue, contact us on (07) 3878 9355 or at info@dws.net.au.

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