Oct 15 2018
With the NRL and AFL Grand Finals done and dusted for the year, IBISWorld explores another kind of sport that has begun to emerge in Australia: competitive video gaming – also known as eSports.
Just as football players play football together, eSports players play computer games against each other. These games have been gaining popularity since the late 2000s, and had an estimated global audience of more than 143 million in 2017.
The slow but steady rise of eSports in Australia and abroad has not gone unnoticed, and its rising popularity has shifted the views of many who were once sceptical of its potential.
“With a successful first season of Australia’s first ever city-based eSports league, the Gfinity Elite Series, Australia has made its largest investment into eSports yet. However, this is not the first large investment into eSports in Australia, as both the Adelaide Crows and Essendon Bombers have bought existing League of Legends eSports teams, acquiring teams Legacy eSports and Abyss respectively,” said IBISWorld Senior Industry Analyst, Liam Harrison.
Australia’s place on the eSports map is forecast to continue growing. Melbourne has quickly caught on to the increasing popularity of eSports, with the Victorian Government hosting the inaugural Melbourne eSports Open in September.
“Rumours have circulated the internet for months that a Melbourne team would be joining BIizzard-Activision’s Overwatch League, a first-person action game global eSports league, highlighting Australia’s growing importance in the eSports scene,” said Mr. Harrison.
Competitive gaming can be a lucrative career, with Australian eSports player Anatham Pham collecting more than $3 million in prize money at the International Dota 2 Championship in Canada, earning him more than most AFL players earn in a year.
“As more games enter the eSports ecosystem, salaries and prizes will likely increase to attract the limited talent pool of top-tier players,” said Mr. Harrison.
With significant competition over broadcasting rights to traditional sports, IBISWorld anticipates that purchasing the rights to broadcast eSports could become the next source of revenue for traditional television in Australia.
“While most eSports are livestreamed through internet services, traditional broadcasting may still have its place. Over half a million viewers from around the world tuned in to the Overwatch League inaugural season Grand Final, which was broadcast both online through Amazon-owned online streaming service Twitch and through traditional broadcasters ESPN and DisneyXD,” said Mr. Harrison.
Competitive gaming was broadcast on a commercial free-to-air network live in Australia for the first time in 2017, showcasing Australia vs Sweden in the Overwatch World Cup on 7mate. Channel Ten then partnered earlier this year with the Gfinity Elite series, broadcasting live Rocket League matches throughout its first season.
“With revenue for the Free-to-Air Television Broadcasting industry currently forecast to decline at an annualised 2.9% over the five years through 2023-24, to $3.8 billion, eSports broadcasting could be the breath of fresh air needed to help reinvigorate the industry,” said Mr. Harrison.
IBISWorld Industry Reports used in this release:
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