The business of Esports is booming. Prior to Covid-19 changing the sports world as we know it, Newzoo predicted that esports revenue would grow by over 15% to reach $1.1 billion in 2020.
Of that, up to 75% of the total market – over $800 million – is expected to come from media rights and sponsorship. Driving this increased revenue is a global esports audience that is expected to reach nearly 500 million.
The esports explosion appears to have been compounded by the current worldwide pandemic, with industry leaders predicting audience and revenue metrics to increase while traditional live sports are sidelined for the foreseeable future.
Without standard programming to sell, traditional sports rights holders are looking to esports to reach audiences with live content.
Formula 1, NASCAR, NBA, and various soccer clubs have each turned to esports operations to keep their fans engaged. By many measures, it’s working for these properties and traditional esports powerhouses like Overwatch and League of Legends. According to a recent report in SportsProMedia, Twitter saw a 71% increase in competitive gaming conversations during the final two weeks of March compared to the two weeks prior.
The Influence of Esports Athletes
As the games go global, it’s not just teams and streaming services that are cashing in. The esports athletes themselves are becoming big business.
The potential power of gamers entered the public consciousness in 2018 when Tyler “Ninja” Blevins overtook Cristiano Ronaldo as the most engaging athlete on social media. Since taking the social media crown, Ninja has become a business unto himself. He has signed exclusive agreements with Adidas and Microsoft’s streaming platform, Mixer. The mixer deal has been rumored to be valued at $20-to-$30 million.
Esports stars like Ninja and fellow streamer PewDiePie are outliers in esports and beyond in terms of social media influence and earning power. However, thousands of esports athletes are building personal brands that rival traditional athletes and are often monetized across their personal social media channels.
For sponsors and advertisers, esports athletes offer channels to reach an audience that traditional sports may not, all while offering the ease of working with true digital natives. Because they live online and are generally apt at creating their own content, crafting authentic, engaging esports influencer campaigns can be seamless for interested brands.
While many of the streamers select YouTube as their primary monetization platform, we chose to look at Twitter and Instagram earning power to understand how they stack up to the most influential stars in traditional sports.
Value Per Post Calculation:
Estimated Value per Post is calculated using the cost per thousand followers (CPR), cost per engagement (CPE), and cost per thousand impressions (CPM) from thousands of paid posts published via Opendorse since 2012.
The calculation factors in the athlete’s sport, status, current follower count, average engagement rate per post, and impressions per post to provide an estimate of the dollar amount the athlete could command from sponsors in exchange for publishing one branded content post on their own social media channels.