2.4bn hours of e-sports viewing in 2013, says report

4 Jun 2014

Esprts event image via Wikimedia Commons.

A new report from IHS has shown that aside from playing games, gamers love watching other people play games, to the tune of 2.4bn hours online in 2013.

Known as e-sports, the pastime of watching competitive gaming or livestreams of popular players playing their favourite games has gained a following numbering the millions, but this latest report shows that the number of hours viewed has actually more than doubled on 2012 which saw 1.2bn hours viewed in total.

Arguably, this rise can be attributed to the expansion of hosting sites like Twitch and Ustream who have expanded their reach out from just viewing through a desktop PC or laptop and into a range of other devices including mobile phones, tablets and even through gaming consoles themselves.

Earlier this year, Twitch released their end of year report for 2013 showing that in 2013 the site had 45m unique viewers to the service putting themselves as the most-watched medium for e-sports viewing and was also the subject of a rumoured US$1bn takeover by the world’s largest video streaming site, YouTube.

In terms of what proved to be the most popular title worldwide, once again League of Legends, produced by Rage Games, reigns supreme Valve’s Dota 2 and Activision Blizzard’s StarCraft II.

Growth of Chinese market

Interestingly, despite South Korea and the US traditionally having the largest share of viewership, China has asserted itself as the largest viewer-base for e-sports in 2013 and has surpassed TV viewing figures in each of these countries on a number of occasions.

By 2018, IHS Technology expect to see further growth in viewer numbers, perhaps as high as 6.6bn and worth US$300 million in online advertising revenue per year, globally.

Dan Cryan, senior director, digital media research for HIS said of the findings: “E-sports videos have rapidly transformed from a niche activity into a widely-watched, global, cross-platform entertainment category. Several factors are contributing to the surge in e-sports viewing.

“These include the fact that key game titles have reached maturity and game publishers are taking a major role in promoting e-sports competitions. Furthermore, e-sports viewing has been boosted by the emergence of online video platforms that are capable of handling large-scale live audiences.”

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic