Global e-sports revenues to top $1.5b this year

NEW YORK Global e-sports revenues will hit US$1.1 billion (S$1.5 billion) this year, up 27 per cent since last year amid ballooning revenues from advertising, sponsorship and media rights to competitive video gaming, a report said on Tuesday.

Brand investments through those three avenues will make up 82 per cent - or US$897 million - of total revenues. In all, brand support will have nearly tripled since 2015, according to data from Newzoo, a gaming industry analytics firm.

E-sports is a form of competitive video gaming with multiple players battling against each other, usually in teams and often in matches that are streamed live to throngs of young fans.

E-sports has burst into the mainstream, with its own superstars and leagues, celebrity athlete owners and tournaments that sell out stadiums and award prizes worth millions of dollars. League of Legends, Dota 2 and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive are some of the most popular e-sports.

Early investments by big brands are now taking root, Newzoo CEO Peter Warman said.

"This is for the long term, and it's good amounts of money," he said. "It's what the ecosystem needed and what investors wanted to see."

For instance, Activision Blizzard Inc's Overwatch League named Coca-Cola as its official global beverage sponsor for non-alcoholic drinks on Friday.

The game developer, which runs the professional e-sports league, also inked sponsorship deals with carmaker Toyota, wireless provider T-Mobile US and computing companies HP and Intel.

North America will generate US$409 million of e-sports revenues this year, the most of any region, Newzoo's report found.

China will generate 19 per cent and South Korea 6 per cent, with the rest of the world comprising the remaining 38 percent.

While advertising is the bulk of revenue, merchandise and ticket sales are also expected to grow 22 per cent to nearly US$104 million, though game publisher fees will likely drop 3 percent to US$95 million, the report showed.- REUTERS