The Rise of Esports Betting

It is no secret that the COVID-19 pandemic was responsible for one of history’s biggest disruptions to global sports leagues. Today, while most major sports leagues are back to business as usual, an unsuspecting competitor has risen to capture viewership, sponsorship dollars, and audience share from traditional sports. Accelerated by the pandemic, Esports has thrived. And the rising popularity of Esports has also resulted in rising popularity of Esports betting.

What are Esports?

The term Esports is typically used to mean electronic sports. Esports are competitive video game tournaments where players and teams compete for cash prizes. The tournaments are viewable from anywhere in the world on mobile or desktop devices and are typically free to watch. In the same way that professional sports have leagues, corporate sponsorships, passionate fans, teams, and superstars, and championships, Esports also boasts leagues for different video games, fans for different games and teams, and superstars that have millions of followers or subscribers.

Esports fans not only watch professional video game tournaments, but also watch live streams from video game personalities on live streaming platforms like Twitch. As of July 2023, Ninja, one of the world’s most popular video game streamers has almost 24 million subscribers on YouTube and more than 18 million on his Twitch channel. He’s so popular that he’s even partnered with celebrities outside of the video game world including global music superstars Drake and Travis Scott and NFL stars like JuJu Smith-Schuster.

Who is the typical Esports fan right now?

Esports truly does cater to a diverse audience since there are countless different genres and subgenres of games. But approximately 71% of Esports fans are male, and 73% are between the ages of 16-34. It’s estimated that there are around 20 million Esports fans in the United States alone.

Esports fans also grew up with the Internet. One report from Goldman Sachs found that 80% of Esports are watched on digital platforms online. That’s a stark contrast compared to traditional sports, where digital viewership only accounts for 20% of total professional sports viewership. Plus, the popularity of Esports rivals that of some traditional sports for some demographics. A Newzoo report found that Esports is just as popular among American men aged 21-34 as baseball.

Furthermore, Esports fans are disproportionately affluent, more employed and are more likely to spend on entertainment. Roughly 15% of all internet users are Esports fans, and Esports audiences are most prevalent in South and East Asian countries.

Why are Esports important to iGaming?

Operators should pay close attention to Esports because Esports are projected to have a global audience of over 577 million people by the year 2024. Unlike traditional sports where viewership can be limited due to geographical restrictions, pay-per-view access, or lack of mobile-friendly viewing options, Esports have no such restrictions – in fact operators can even offer livestreams for many Esports tournaments directly on their platform to boost customer engagement. Despite Esports betting still being in its infancy, Esports betting is expected to generate $18.5bn USD in GGR by 2026.

Esports offerings included sports betting software also help operators attract a new audience of bettors. In the United States, over 50% of Esports fans don’t watch the NFL or the NBA. It can be inferred that these people are unlikely to wager on traditional sporting events. By incorporating an Esports betting solution to your online sportsbook, operators have the ability to attract players that would otherwise have never placed a bet on a traditional sporting event.

Another thing that operators need to consider are the high expectations that Esports fans have when it comes to their digital experiences. Since they are used to experiences that include exceptional technological development, operators who want to offer Esports betting solutions need to make sure that their websites and platforms are built for the excellent experience that Esports fans are used to.

Are Esports and Esports betting really that big?

Yes. Even pre-pandemic when Esports were in more direct competition for viewership against traditional sports, over 100 million fans tuned into the 2019 League of Legends World Championship through streaming services such as Twitch and YouTube. The 2020 League of Legends World Championship Final, hosted in Shanghai in Fall 2020, had over 3 million fans apply for seats even though the venue could only seat 6,000. Operators who do not offer Esports wagering not only risk leaving money on the table from bets placed on Esports events, but more importantly risk losing the ability to attract Millennial and Gen Z bettors due to the popularity of Esports in those generations.

What if my provider does not support Esports betting?

If your sportsbook software provider does not support Esports betting, you should strongly consider migrating to a different provider. Millennial and Gen Z bettors are rapidly gaining share of the customer base for iGaming, and in the coming years will be the primary customer base. Esports is a crucial draw for those groups. Operators who wait to court those customers will face an uphill battle against brands that have already established a relationship with that demographic.

Our white label sportsbook solutions are fully equipped with odds feeds for major Esports events thanks to our integration with Oddin.gg. Contact [email protected] to add sports betting software with Esports betting capabilities to your platform today.

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