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Esports, an exploding movement that features competitive video game play, is gaining a greater—and more respected—foothold at the university level. The phenomenon is a growing industry with huge spectatorship numbers, and with expectations that the global esports economy will soon reach nearly £900 million, universities and brands alike are figuring out how to access this heretofore unfamiliar talent pool.


Just how big is esports in the UK?

  • One in 10 Brits follow esports overall.
  • There are currently over 36 million gamers in the UK, 3 million of whom are esports enthusiasts, frequently watching the games.
  • An additional 3 million plus people watch esports less than once a month.

While most mainly follow the big global tournaments, local tournaments like the ESL UK Premiership, UK Masters, and Multiplay Insomnia events are popular and have zealous fans that watch every play.

A growing area is University esports play where some exciting UK varsity rivalries including Brighton and Sussex, Oxford and Cambridge, and York and Lancaster are creating a new generation. (National Student Esports) is committed to working with students of all abilities and experience to give them opportunities to participate and contribute to the esports scene.  This is bringing a new level of professionalism and organisation to UK esports and the sector is ready to grow as a result of it.

The New Digital Athlete

Generation Z—those born after 2000—are often referred to as the first fully-digital generation. Nearly three-quarters of them have video game consoles and many spend hours a week playing popular games like League of Legends and Fortnite. It’s no coincidence that the rise of esports is in sync with their entering university.

Just a few years ago that idea that someone could earn a living by “sitting around and playing video games” was considered a gamer’s fantasy. But for the first time, students can now explore career paths in game design and development and the possibility of living their dream and doing something they love is a reality.

Esports isn’t a traditional physical sport, but it still involves some of the same aspects: strategising, practicing to hone skills, dedication, teamwork, entertainment, and leadership.

Esports Marketing Opportunities

Global brands are discovering that the loyal fanbase for esports is an exciting, potentially lucrative new realm of opportunity and they’re putting their marketing dollars into esports to reach esport’s important demographic: young people between 21 to 35 years old who have become increasingly difficult to reach via traditional advertising platforms.

Need big-money proof that esports is only going to get bigger as time goes on? Look to Amazon, which purchased the social video platform Twitch back in 2014. Today, the site has more than 2 million unique monthly gaming streamers and draws nearly 10 million active daily viewers who average over an hour and a half of watching the games. The site also streams many of the biggest esports global competitions, drawing enormous audiences.  On top of Twitch we also have MIXER (purchased by Microsoft) and the new and exciting kid on the block:

The bottomline? Brands that are ready to embrace digital sporting—and marketing—and who understand how to engage esports’ hyper-social fanbase have a lot to look forward to.

Let’s grab a coffee and discuss how we can build, manage and run your esports platform.

About the author

Mark McKeever

Mark McKeever

I've been living and breathing digital for the last 20 years: helping clients, partners and brands move from traditional media to electronic mediums and working to aid digital transformation.

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