Esports ad industry makes $280m in 2016, but set to topple $1b by 2021

Esports ad industry makes $280m in 2016, but set to topple $1b by 2021
Jake Tucker

Esports in 2016 snagged $280m in ad spend from advertisers, with most of the money going towards influencer marketing, sponsorship and video.

According to advertising mag The Drum, by 2021 this figure could end up exceeding $1bn in ad revenue as brands try to engage with the nascent industry, and appeal to relevant audiences through the medium.

Many broadcasters too are starting to tie down rights to the bigger esports events, meaning that advertisers can now bid for ad space during big event broadcasts in a variety of ways. On demand video is another big driver, with 57% of esports video being watched in China.

China are watching over half of a not insignificant amount of video, with around 6bn hours of esports watched in 2016, a 19% increase on 2015.

Ted Hall, IHS Markit’s research director, said in a statement: “The rapid growth of esports audiences has attracted some the industry’s largest media and technology companies to the genre, with the likes of Amazon and MTG acquiring key assets.

“Some of these acquisitions are initiating shifts in eSports business dynamics, with players such as China’s Tencent seeking to control assets across the value chain, and publishers moving into league operation.”

“Investment in eSports will pay off for its big-name backers, as the genre expands both within its target demographic and outside it, with increasing exposure on linear TV set to bring in casual and new fans.”

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