The annual Deloitte study, “Let’s Play! 2022” on awareness, consumption, market trends, and the economy of European esports is published today, revealing a young, diverse, well-educated fan base, increased sector awareness, an increase in viewing figures and an increase in markets and acquisitions since 2020.
Deloitte publishes “Let’s Play! 2022” – the annual report on Europe’s esports market
Deloitte surveyed 53 esports market experts and 14,000 Europeans aged 16 to 65.
- During the COVID-19 pandemic, the general public in Europe became more aware of esports, user numbers increased. Regular viewer numbers in Europe nearly halved after lockdown restrictions were relaxed, but they remain higher than pre-pandemic levels.
- 41% of Europeans surveyed could define esports in 2022, a 10% increase from 2020.
- The esports fan base is young, diverse, value-conscious, digitally native and increasingly rare on traditional channels. This implies opportunities for interactions on topics that distinguish esports spectators from the general population.
- Esports spectators have an above-average education and above-average income and they are from the millennial and generation Z age groups.
- Consumers’ reasons for tuning into esports and making content selection are highly diverse, with no clear top motivation emerging.
- Mergers and Acquisition activities in the sector have increased since late 2020. Esports companies’ assessments suggest that investment activity will remain high.
- Hardcore esports consumers spend €29/month, compared to regular users who spend €14 and occasional users who spend €7. The majority of spending is related to events.
- Poland and Spain are the most developed esports markets in Europe; they also have the highest number of consumers who pay for their esports content.
Head of ISFE Esports, Sergi Mesonero, said “Esports is still a young sector in comparison to other economic areas, driven by a young, diverse, value-conscious, digitally native and above-average education and income audience. As such, it has considerable potential to evolve and transform other sectors at the EU and national levels, but it is developing differently across the continent, as shown in the report.”
Head of Deloitte’s German Sport Business Group, Stefan Ludwig said: “The withdrawal of the lockdown measures understandably resulted in many people turning to other leisure activities again. In 2020 and 2021, 15 percent of those surveyed in Europe answered that they had watched esports at least once a week in the past six months. This number dropped to 8 percent in 2022 in the current survey. Nonetheless, the survey results show that the viewing figures are still above the pre-pandemic level. Hence, esports has developed in terms of viewers.”
Opportunities to monetise esports
Senior Manager at Deloitte’s Sport Business Group, Kim Lachmann, said: “For many professional esports teams, the expenses for players and employees make up about 45 percent of the costs – a similar value as we see in football, for example. With traditional sources of income such as sponsorship, the sale of tickets from organised events and prize money won in competitions, esports teams are still rather unprofitable. Therefore, the companies are increasingly evolving by putting a stronger focus on marketing as well as media and entertainment. Overall, in terms of revenue contribution, the share of traditional streams is decreasing relative to new revenue streams.”
Companies are placing a strategic focus on building a stronger foundation in terms of factors such as total revenue, reach, number of fans and overall appeal of their product. Teams stated revenue growth (80%) as the most important business goal, followed by growing fan and viewer numbers (70%), success in competitions, achieving profitability and attracting financial investors (50% each). In fact, with rising awareness and solid growth prospects, the attractiveness of the esports sector for investors has recently increased sharply. Since 2019, there have been 51 acquisitions of esports teams and event and league organisers worldwide. Since the end of 2020, the sector has seen even stronger M&A activity, with an average of four to five deals per quarter. Investment activity is expected to remain at a high level in the future.
1 Hardcore viewers include esports consumers who have watched at least one hour of esports per day in the past six months.
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