New research from Ampere Analysis has uncovered that a whopping 26% of Chinese internet users watch esports at least once a month. Contrastingly, Western markets lag well behind China, with Denmark and Sweden leading the pack in European viewers. 8-9% of Danish and Swedish internet users watch esports on a monthly basis. The largest demographic tuning in seems to be made up predominantly of men, from the age of 18 to 34, but the audience seems to be moving away from classic stereotypes. As of Q3 of 2019, 35% of those engaging with esports were women. Still, let’s take a look at how China dominates esports globally. 

China is dominating the esports environment 

Let’s take a look at how China dominates esports globally: 

China currently tops the charts in esports viewers, with 26% of internet users tuning into esports events at least once a month in 2019. The League of Legends World Championship had a concurrent audience of 203 million in China alone, as opposed to just 2 million in the rest of the world. 5 to 9% of the rest of the world reportedly watches esports on a monthly basis which, when compared to China, is hardly substantial at all. Interest in esports is so strong in Scandinavia, that Modern Times Group (MTG), a regional entertainment group, has made a number of investments in the esports and gaming industries. MTG currently runs multiple competitions and leagues, like ESL and DreamHack. 

High profile tournaments like the 2019 Fortnite World Cup and the FIFA 19 eWorld Cup reached 20 million global viewers, and 50 million viewers respectively. International interest in esports is growing – it was only a matter of time. 

Demographics 

Currently, esports viewer demographics are dominated by men aged 18 to 34, who are generally tech savvy, and into gaming. They’re also much more likely to subscribe to a subscription video on demand platform (25% to be exact), and less likely to view content on broadcast TV channels. However, 35% of audience members are now female. 40% are also over 35, and 33% have (or live with) young children. Interestingly enough, in China the demographics are a lot more balanced – 43% of esports viewers are female. 

According to Hazel Ford, an analyst at Ampere Analysis, “The rise of esports viewing on a global scale presents a potentially lucrative opportunity for new and existing players. Platforms such as Twitch and YouTube are currently market leaders but face growing competition from a number of newcomers, including the developers themselves. As with the traditional sports world, exclusive rights deals will become crucial for platforms looking to control high growth esports audiences.”

A summary 

Now that we’ve taken a look at how China dominates esports globally, it’s pretty clear that they’ve really got the edge. A whopping 26% of Chinese internet users tune into esports events on a monthly basis, compared to only 5 to 9% of internet users internationally. Denmark and Sweden lead the West in viewing, maxing out at 9% of all of their internet users. However, esports events are growing in popularity in both China and the rest of the world, and it’s likely that these figures will increase on both ends. Will China remain dominant? They’ve certainly got the upper hand at the moment, but anything is possible. Still, it would have to take a lot to surpass China in viewership at this point, so we won’t be holding our breath. 

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