eSports is now the second most popular sport for boys to watch on screen – behind only football, and ahead of boxing, rugby and tennis.
A study of 5,000 under-18s found that one in five male respondents said they regularly tune in to watch eSports, which the IOC has confirmed could feature as a ‘demonstration event’ in the 2024 Paris Olympics.
The emergence of UFC athletes into mainstream media has seen UFC/Mixed Martial Arts become the fourth most watched sport on screen among teenagers.
The research, which is part of Kids Insights’ quarterly Q1 report, also found that one in five boys – and one in ten girls – expect eSports to be bigger than more traditional sports in the future.
Kids Insights’ lead future analyst Nick Richardson said the rise of eSports presents opportunities for those brands willing to take risks and embrace innovation.
He said: “The latest research in our Q1 report shows the rise of eSports gathering some real momentum. And as the popularity for eSports continues to grow, we are seeing brands adopt these new digital spaces by investing large sums into sponsorship and endorsements. In fact, many physical sports teams are beginning to get involved in the eSports arena.
“The IOC officially recognised eSports as a sport in November and this could pave the way for both physical and virtual competitions to exist alongside each other.
“The growing popularity of eSports provides many exciting opportunities for brands who are willing to be brave and bold enough to not only understand young people’s behaviours but act on them.”
Kids Insights’ experts expect to see the rise of eSports continue in 2018 and beyond – and this could lead to an increase in the popularity of Twitch (the live streaming platform owned by Amazon), which, according to the latest data, is now watched by 17 per cent of 16-18-year olds, making the platform more popular than several more traditional platforms such as All 4, Sky Go, My5 and Now TV.
Nick said: “As well as Twitch, more mainstream broadcasters such as BBC Three and Sky Sports are dedicating more screen time to cover eSports and properties, such as Formula 1, are investing heavily in their official eSports offering.
“It’s predicted that eSports could be a £1bn global industry by 2020 and, with an audience of 600 million – many of these teens, that’s a prediction that we would agree with. As eSports become more main stream and integrated into traditional sports, the opportunities for properties, broadcasters and the licensing industry will become even more exciting.”
When it comes to live sports, over the last nine months, the numbers of young people watching has remained fairly constant, with half of all children in the UK not attending any events. Attendance is lowest in the youngest group of children, aged 4-6.
Attendance peaks in boys at age 13-15 and with girls aged 10-12, following a very similar pattern to the market for sports watched on screen.
Overall however, watching live sport is a very small part of the overall ecosystem, as children are more likely to have visited the park, cinema, leisure centre, zoo, bowling, museums and theme parks above live sporting events.
Football is the most popular sport amongst boys, with 42% saying they attend live games.
Using its groundbreaking “AQuA” (All Questions Answered) technology and real-time online platform, Manchester-based Kids Insights surveys 400 different kids, tweens and teens every single week (more than 20,000 every year).
By collecting data continuously (more than 150,000 data points are added every single week), Kids Insights are able to uncover entrenched, emerging and flash trends – as well as better understanding the behaviours and consumption – of children. The results are presented every 12 weeks in a series of reports.
You can download a free, sample version of Kids Insights’ Q1 report here: www.kidsinsights.co.uk/Q12018.