Ever since the pandemic, esports has been on the rise in India and worldwide. It has witnessed astronomical popularity among the country’s burgeoning millennial and gen Z population, especially during the lockdowns of 2020 and 2021. Ubiquitous access to mobile and the internet has largely been responsible for the growth of esports in India. Within a short span of time, esports has evolved from a hobby to an alternate source of income.
According to a report by KPMG, the Indian esports industry is projected to grow from 1.7 billion in 2021 to 5.7 billion by FY25. But it has a much more significant role to play in the economy and can generate a much greater economic value in the coming years. As esports gains popularity among the youth, online streaming platforms are expected to capitalise on the esports tournament viewership to elevate reach and engagement with the audience.
Esports signifies the world of competitive, organised video gaming. Players from across the globe compete in esports tournaments and leagues, practice religiously and display and hone their skills in these games. The winner takes home large and lucrative monetary rewards. Over the years, esports has garnered a loyal fan base among players and viewers. Additionally, the industry is creating a more accessible profession for many people. With sky-rocketing prize pools, diverse games, the growth of smartphones and the internet and global recognition, esports has become more than just a mode of entertainment.
As esports shifts from a gaming activity to a widely consumed form of entertainment, several entities from players to streamers are cashing in on its popularity. With the introduction of live and multiplayer streaming in the esports industry, the gaming experience and pay-outs have changed significantly. As the esports industry matures in scope and size, it opens a world of opportunities for broadcasters and streamers, including live streaming, sponsorship, subscription, etc. Eyeing the multibillion-dollar opportunity, many broadcasters and streamers are increasingly exploring revenue options in the esports industry.
Although still at a nascent stage, the esports industry has already amassed a global audience. The effects are seen to be taking place in India as well, where more than 85 million viewers are expected to watch esports tournaments by FY2025 as per a report by EY India. This viewership is further expected to increase as more streaming platforms venture into esports live streaming. Considering the preference of Indian audiences to watch esports tournaments in regional languages, several platforms are looking to offer more language support to their esports streams.
As streamers and broadcasters take to esports streaming, they are exploring additional sources of revenue. Besides drawing the attention of streaming platforms, esports tournaments have attracted brands and broadcasters who are venturing into tournament sponsorship and syndication. Media broadcasting rights and advertisement sponsorship will further add to the revenue. This will inevitably reflect in the growth of the prize money pool and the diversification of games and gamers. Ultimately, the esports industry will act as a magnet for large broadcasters and brands looking to attract young audiences to their platforms and generate subscription revenues.
The influence of esports can clearly be seen beyond the global millennial and gen Z population as streamers, broadcasters, brands and sports events and organisations recognise the potential of esports. Perhaps, the impact of esports can best be measured in the fact that esports will be a medal event at the upcoming Asian Games 2022. Additionally, the esports category will also be included in a few other Asian Championship events and Olympics. As esports becomes a medal category at global sporting events, streamers and broadcasters will soon be warring for media rights.
As esports refuses to slow in its exponential growth trajectory, it is a golden opportunity for Indian esports- streamers, broadcasters and platforms to break away from conventional sports and capitalise on the momentum esports has garnered. Besides a slew of monetising opportunities, esports offers the streaming industry a chance to enhance offerings to the audience and elevate their customer reach. The esports industry is not only influencing a new beginning in the online streaming industry but also a new paradigm in the sports and entertainment world.
Article written by Satyam Rastogi, Founder & CEO, Khiladi Adda