The Rise of eSports

Last updated on July 4th, 2024 at 09:36 pm

Video games have enjoyed popularity for decades, but lately, professional gamers have been cashing in on their skills by playing the games professionally. Data researcher Mike Brown discusses these trends and how they may affect real-world sports in the future.

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With the eSports industry projected to reach $1.25 billion in revenue by 2020, professional players like Tyler “Ninja” Blevins, who makes more than $500,000 a month, are already bringing in big paydays.

When it comes to revenue and popularity, eSports is nearing well-established leagues like the NFL and MLB. Media companies are claiming some of this market share, for example with Disney’s ESPN inking a deal with a major eSports league for the rights to air live coverage of gaming competitions.

With this burgeoning industry showing no signs of slowing, LendEDU conducted a survey of 1,000 self-identified eSport enthusiasts to learn more about what’s driving this market.

How Much Money Are Fans Spending on eSports?

Of those surveyed, 62 percent said they have spent money on eSports, whether it was through Twitch subscriptions or donations, tickets for events, merchandise, or gambling. About one-third, or 33 percent, said they had never spent money on eSports, and the remaining 5 percent said they’d rather not say if they had.

A follow-up question was asked of those who said they spent money on eSports to gauge how much they were spending. LendEDU learned $566 was the average annual amount spent on eSports, and $200 was the median annual amount.

Biggest eSport Expenditures: Tickets, Gambling, and Twitch Donations

Those who said they spent money on eSports were also asked how much they estimate they spend or will spend every year on eSport event tickets. The average annual amount spent was $440, and the median annual amount spent was $200. Of those surveyed, 21 percent said they don’t spend any money on eSport event tickets.

Those that said they buy tickets for eSport events were also asked if they’d rather spend money on tickets for eSports or major events like NFL or NBA games or big concerts. Almost half, at 49 percent, said they’d rather buy eSport tickets. Another 39 percent said they’d go with the sporting or concert tickets, and the remaining 12 percent said they weren’t sure.

Close Up Of Person With Addiction To Online Gambling Or Shopping Using Credit Card And Mobile Phone

Looking at gambling specifically, the survey showed the average annual spent was $607 on eSports and the median annual amount spent was $200. But 25 percent of the people who spend money on eSports don’t spend any on eSport gambling, according to the survey.

Those who do gamble on eSports were asked if they’d rather gamble on an eSport competition or a big sporting event like the Kentucky Derby or the Super Bowl. More than half, or 51 percent, picked gambling on the eSport competition, while 39 percent opted for the major sporting event. The rest of the respondents, or 10 percent, said they weren’t sure.

Half of those surveyed said they have made donations to their favorite eSport professional gamers who stream through a service like Twitch, while 47 percent said they haven’t. The remaining 3 percent said they didn’t want to say if they did.

Those surveyed by LendEDU made average annual donations of $465 to their favorite eSport gamers, while the median annual donation was $100.

Many Expect Revenue From eSports to Overtake Traditional Sports

As the popularity of eSports continues to climb, people have taken notice. When asked if they expect eSports will eclipse the revenue and popularity of other major league sports, 49 percent said yes, while 23 percent said no. The rest of the 28 respondents said they weren’t sure.

Those who said yes were asked how long they think it will be before eSports surpasses the revenue and popularity of major league sports. A whopping 72 percent said it would be within the next 10 years, while 21 percent said they expect eSports to dominate in 11 years to 30 years. Smaller percentages thought it would take longer than that, with 5 percent expecting 31 to 50 years, 1 percent saying 51 to 70 years, and 1 percent saying more than 70 years.

Parents Are More Than Willing to Pay For Video Game Lessons

Some questions in the survey were directed to parents. One of those questions asked whether they would pay for one-on-one video game lessons for their child from a professional gamer. About 70 percent said they would, while another 14 percent said they would not, even if their child wanted the lessons. The remaining 16 percent weren’t sure if they would.

A follow-up question asked parents if they could only afford one type of lesson, would they rather have it be for video games or more traditional lessons like sports or academics. The answers were split, with 45 percent choosing the one-on-one video game lessons and 44 percent picking the sports or academic lessons. The remaining 11 percent said they weren’t sure whether they’d rather pay for traditional lessons or video game lessons.

Analyst at 

In his role at LendEDU, Mike uses data, usually from surveys and publicly-available resources, to identify emerging personal finance trends and tell unique stories. Mike's work, featured in major outlets like The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post, provides consumers with a personal finance measuring stick and can help them make informed finance decisions.

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