The growing UK eSports sector is a huge opportunity for brands with 1.2m Brits watching eSports content this year and most open to sponsored content, according to new research.
New data released by Kantar emphasises the huge untapped opportunity for brands in the burgeoning eSports market.
Figures from Kantar’s TGI consumer data reveal that interest in eSports continues to grow rapidly. Whilst 815,000 adults in Britain claimed to watch eSports and other competitive events/gameplays in 2017, this number has increased to 1.2 million today.
eSports is also expanding its reach on social channels far beyond conventional demographics: Data from Kantar’s social listening service reveals followers of this year’s Fortnite World Cup winner are primarily made up of executives (28%) and creatives (26%), with IT professionals making up 8% of the total.
This growth is reflected in insights from key eSports streaming platform Twitch, which reported an increase from 292bn minutes of total viewing time in 2016 to 560bn in 2018. In 2019, that number had reached 451bn by September.
Kantar’s own research also shows that the eSports community is a particularly engaged one, with 8 out of 10 Twitch users claiming to watch livestreams as part of their interaction with the platform.
This active engagement extends to advertising, with almost all (92%) eSports consumers positively inclined to brand involvement and two-thirds (67%) reporting that they appreciate ads for the legitimacy they bring to what is still a relatively niche platform. Moreover, 77% of eSports fans don’t pay to remove ads from game-related content and more than half (55%) are more willing to buy from brands which sponsor this type of content.
Mark Inskip, CEO UK & Ireland of Kantar’s Media Division, commented: “Over recent years, the eSports market has rapidly grown, almost beyond recognition. Today it presents a huge opportunity for brands ready and willing to step into the gaming ring. The great news for marketers is that eSports fans are overwhelmingly positive in their sentiment towards advertising. Nonetheless, it remains imperative for brands to respect their audience. Those who come out on top will be the ones who fit seamlessly into the interactions their audiences are already enjoying and accurately measure their engagement, tailoring content to match their needs and interests.”
Further insights from Kantar’s TGI consumer data survey reveal 46% of eSports viewers agree advertising helps them choose what to buy – and 58% expect this advertising to be entertaining. Brands are already starting to capitalise on the opportunities offered by eSports. Kantar data reveals that the winner of the ‘Super Smash Bros’ eSports tournament, sponsored by Red Bull, saw a single mention of Red Bull in one of his Twitter posts result in a 169% increase in traffic for the brand, with an additional 1,399 individual shares of the Red Bull homepage.
Kantar ran an online survey among adults in Britain aged 16+ (1,000 nationally representative sample, plus boost of esports/gaming viewers, run in Aug 2019). This element leverages Kantar’s pioneering Advanced Profiling solution linking the survey findings with TGI data for deeper profiling of our audiences. The research also encompasses social media analysis profiling gaming viewers and measuring impact of brand sponsorship around gaming events. The research is supplemented with desk research exploring the development of the eSports market and the major ‘players’ involved.