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The billion dollar game – why big brands are putting brand dollars into esports

Major companies such as Airbus, Audi, Coca-Cola and DHL are putting brand dollars into esports – here’s why.

Video game tournaments have come a long way since they first appeared in arcades in the 1980s. Now, online spectatorship is booming and tournaments have become increasingly large-scale events. Gamers are considered professional athletes, and just like with major league basketball or football games, thousands of esports fans flock to sold-out arenas to watch teams compete.

Tournaments are streamed to a huge global online audience – some 385 million people in 2017 alone. This massive reach has attracted the attention of major companies, including PepsiCo, Bud Light and Red Bull, who invest in sponsorships to target the sport’s main demographic: young men between the ages of 21 and 25, a group that traditional advertising struggles to reach.

The leading authority on the video gaming market, Newzoo, predicts a promising future for esports, calculating that the global esports economy – including advertising, sponsorships, merchandising and ticket sales – will reach $1.4 billion by 2020.

In the longer term, esports will potentially reach a broader audience, as the International Olympic Committee is considering adding esports to the Games – meaning tournaments could be aired on television networks worldwide as early as 2024. — Giorgia Rose

Find out more about esports in our interview with ESL founder Ralf Reichert

Published: November 2018


$905 Million

The projected global esports economy in 2018, with the majority generated through investments by brands

1 Minute

The time it took for tickets to the 2017 League of Legends World Championships to sell out, despite the Beijing National Stadium‘s 80,000-person capacity

$24.6 Million

The largest prize pool in esports history – for the Dota 2 Championship in 2017

427 Million

The estimated number of spectators that will watch tournaments in 2019


Images: Bart Oerbekke/ESL