The NPD Group's latest report, eSports and Streaming Gameplay, has some interesting data on the viewing habits of the eSports audience. The research group found that 44 percent of US gamers have watched either formal eSports competitions or informal video streaming of gameplay in the past six months. Additionally, viewers are averaging almost three hours per session; 18 percent are watching on a daily basis, and another 46 percent said they watch weekly.
Importantly, when looking at competitive eSports, it's the game itself that's attracting viewers, not so much the prize pool or tournament size. "It's the game being played that consistently attracts viewers. Watchers are most influenced by the game, followed by the quality of the commentators and the team/players," NPD said.
That's good news for marketers looking to gain additional exposure for their titles, as 69 percent of viewers have purchased either a full game or downloadable content because they saw someone playing it online, NPD noted. Many viewers (two-thirds) indicated that they're already playing the game that they watch the most online and they often watch to learn new things about a game by seeing others play.
"eSports may have seemed like a niche phenomenon in the past, but it has clearly taken off with strong activity and engagement with consumers," said Liam Callahan, industry analyst, The NPD Group. "This is positive for the gaming industry on multiple levels, not only bringing excitement from the events themselves, but also from a marketing standpoint as consumers learn and can then potentially spend on games featured at eSports events."