Vertical enjoying increased popularity among younger players and spectators
The respected independent research group Neilsen's latest study on eSports shows that the vertical continues to grow in popularity in the United States, with an impressive 14 percent of the 13-years-or-more population keenly interested in competitive video gaming… up 8 percent year-on-year.
"While eSports may not rival the size of many traditional sports fan bases just yet, it's gaining the attention of many sports leagues, teams, owners and even players — both as a formidable threat and a potentially lucrative complement to the sports status quo," the report observes.
NFL and NCAA football fans are a particularly enthusiastic component in the rising vertical, the study found, with respectively 52 percent and 45 percent also following or playing eSports. The NBA is also a source of support, and NBA teams, owners and players have recently been making major investments in the vertical.
Neilsen researchers say that the eSports population is three times as likely to be an avid fan of combat/fighting sports, racing, and U.S./European soccer, which is noteworthy given that these parallel three of the most popular genres of eSports video games.
The eSports audience was found to be mostly male (77 percent), millennial (with 61 percent aged 18-34), and more likely to stream a traditional sport event online than the typical U.S. sport fan.
"This is wholly consistent with their eSports viewing habits, as streaming is by far the most popular way to consume eSports content, with 71 percent of fans viewing eSports events online," the report reveals.
The research suggests that direct involvement in eSports can elevate fans' opinion of a brand in addition to traditional sports involvement (+12 percent), while eSports integrations also offer the prospect of growing purchase intent (+7 percent) and brand loyalty (+8 percent) beyond what sports activations generate.
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