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eSports Idea Proposal

eSports Idea Proposal

Where are the best moneymaking opportunities in the thriving eSports ecosystem over the next 12-18 months?

Report Available: April 17, 2020


Blueshift’s initial research found excitement around competitive gaming continuing to reach new levels. Viewership numbers for eSports tournaments are rising, top players are gaining celebrity-like status and the world’s biggest brands are clamoring to invest with sponsorship deals. It is not clear yet, though, whether eSports will be profitable for game publishers, streaming platforms or others in the ecosystem, such as apparel merchandisers or energy drink makers. The coronavirus pandemic has shut down some major eSports events but school closings and the disruption of other major sports leagues could offer a chance for eSports to gain more attention.



  1. Competitive gaming has exploded into a billion-dollar industry, with money flowing through video game licensing fees, sponsorships, streaming TV rights, ticket sales and merchandising. In one sign of eSports’ growing popularity, the most recent League of Legends World Championship, a months-long event hosted in three different European cities, amassed 137 million viewing hours, up 66% from the prior year. The total eSports audience could approach 650 million viewers by 2023, according to market researcher Newzoo. Top players are reaching levels of popularity on par with major sports stars. Tyler Blevins, a Fortnite star who goes by the user name Ninja, has amassed more than 22 million YouTube subscribers and 15 million Instagram followers.
  2. Among those trying to cash in on eSports’ skyrocketing popularity are game publishers like EA and ATVI, who operate their own leagues or extract licensing fees from organizers of tournaments around popular games, such as Madden NFL and Overwatch. TTWO is 50% owner of the NBA 2K League, which has distribution agreements with streaming platforms like TCEHY. With so much interest in competitive gaming, major brands like KO and NKE are pouring money into sponsoring teams and events. Sponsorship revenue for eSports will top $600 million this year, while digital ad revenue is forecast to pass $200 million in the U. S. DIS’s ESPN, GOOG/GOOGL’s YouTube and AMZN’s streaming platform Twitch are among the biggest broadcasters of live eSports tournaments.
  3. Even with all the money pouring into competitive gaming, few if any eSports organizations themselves are profitable. Some of the key opportunities in eSports may be around peripheral businesses like apparel and merchandising. Nutrition for eSports has become a cottage industry itself with various supplements, energy drinks and meal replacements geared toward gamers popping up. G Fuel calls itself the official energy drink of eSports, with numerous sponsorship deals and even custom flavors for top players. MNST has similarly invested in various eSports players, teams, leagues and tournaments.
  4. The coronavirus adds a potential wrinkle to eSports’ growth trajectory. School cancellations, college campus shutdowns and quarantines could leave many younger people with a lot of time on their hands for gaming and watching eSports. Competitive gaming could also fill a huge void for sports fans with the disruption of major leagues like the NBA, NHL and MLB. For example, the NBA’s Phoenix Suns are planning to play at least some of the suspended real-world schedule through NBA 2K League – the first such game attracted more than 12,000 viewers on Twitch at one point. On the other hand, many premier eSports events are also being canceled, such as EA’s Madden and FIFA live events, and the League of Legends Championship Series, though some tournaments are continuing in online-only formats rather than in-person events.


What is the best path for game publishers to profit from eSports? How are advertisers and agencies leveraging eSports’ popularity? What do the opportunities look like in the eSports nutrition sector? What other parts of the ecosystem are ripe for profits? To answer these and other questions, Blueshift will gather data and issue a market research report from independent sources in the following areas: Game publishers, eSports advertisers and agencies, Team and league executives, Peripheral business executives, and Industry specialists.  


Companies: Activision Blizzard Inc. (ATVI), Alphabet Inc. (GOOG/GOOGL), Inc. (AMZN), Electronic Arts Inc. (EA), Monster Beverage Corp. (MNST), Take-Two Interactive Software Inc. (TTWO), Tencent Holdings Ltd. (TCEHY), The Walt Disney Co. (DIS)


Research Begins: March 30, 2020



To see other ideas Blueshift Research is currently working on, please click here.



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