People watching other people play video games online wasn’t something I knew existed until recently, and I surely didn’t think it was popular. But I was wrong. Electronic sports, or eSports, has become a multibillion dollar industry and popularity in the U.S. has been growing substantially. Top professional players can earn millions of dollars in sponsorships, streaming deals, and prize money. Twitch, a live streaming video game platform, attracts more than 100 million unique views each month. YouTube Gaming just officially launched in August 2015, but YouTube has one billion users. And the eSports fan base is very loyal, so it seems this video gaming phenomenon is here to stay.
Since we didn’t know much about this trend or who takes part in this spectator sport, we decided to find out more. In June 2015, we started tracking this gaming occurrence using the following question:
After collecting over 10,000 responses, we found that 12% of people 13 and older very closely or somewhat closely follow live or recorded videos of people playing video games or computer games. That’s a lot of people in the U.S. taking part in this new gaming experience. We will call these individuals “video game spectators.”
So who are these individuals and what brands do they like? This information could be very valuable for those in the industry as well as for brands looking for new advertising avenues or potential sponsorship deals, but first let’s take a look at video game spectators’ gaming habits.
Video Game Spectators’ Gaming Habits:
- 66% often watch YouTube video game commentators like PewDiePie, Markiplier, or others.
- 61% play video games daily and 17% play weekly.
- 53% of the video game spectators play first-person shooter or other multi-player video games daily or weekly.
- 40% say their favorite hobby or interest is playing computer or video games.
- 34% are likely to purchase a virtual reality (“VR”) headset.
- 51% prefer to play games on a PC, whereas 44% prefer to play on a gaming console, as shown in the graphic below:
As you can see, they are pretty passionate about gaming.
Next, we will compare spectators to the general population on a number of different attributes, such as demographics, psychographics, and social media habits.
We found that many of the attribute differences between gaming spectators and the general population could be due largely to their younger age.
Entertainment / Media Consumption:
- They are more than 2X as likely as the general population to primarily watch TV via online streaming services, which could explain why they are 52% more likely to love Netflix.
- They are 34% more likely to closely follow trends and current events in electronics and technology.
- They are 33% more likely to listen to Pandora.
Not only do they watch people play video games via online streaming channels, but they also watch the majority or their TV through streaming services and listen to music via platforms like Pandora.
Video game spectators visit social media sites much more frequently and spend more time on the sites than average.
- They are 2.5X as likely as the general population to spend 4 or more hours on social media on an average day.
- They are 2X more likely to visit YouTube daily. 77% of video game spectators are on YouTube daily.
- They are 2X more likely to share entertainment news on social media each day.
- They are 70% more likely to say texting and social networking are important or a passion of theirs.
- Also, video game spectators are 50% more likely to use Twitter daily.
- They exhibit Market Maven behaviors. They are slightly more likely (6%) to tell others about new brands or technology and are slightly more likely (14%) to try new products before others.
- They are 26% more likely to not be brand loyal.
- They are 59% more likely to be most influenced by comments on social media rather than TV or internet ads when it comes to their purchases.
- They are 39% more likely to write negative reviews online.
This group on whole tends to be more experimental with brands and products, and certainly social media and online commentary remain influential forces for them when it comes to purchase decisions.
Video game spectators have a higher favorability of a variety of food brands than the general population. Brands, products, and retailers that they favor at a higher rate include: Chex cereal snacks; Honey Bunches of Oats; Buffalo Wild Wings; Fiber One cereals; Target; and Lean Cuisine.
These brands may see success by advertising on sites such as Twitch or YouTube Gaming or sponsoring video gaming events.
Many of the attribute differences we’ve highlighted between video game spectators and the general population could be largely due to the age difference of the two segments. So in an effort to make more of an apples to apples comparison, we also compared video game spectators under age 30 vs. non-spectators who are also under 30.
So among the under 30 set, video game spectators are:
- 32% more likely to have a household income under $25K.
- 59% less likely to be parents.
- 41% less likely to be employed.
Shopping Habits and Economic Outlook:
- 2X as likely to say brand is very important when shopping.
- 54% more likely to believe their personal financial situation will get better over the next 6 months.
- More than 2X as likely to spend 4+ hours on social media each day.
- 37% more likely to closely follow trends in electronics and technology.
- 13% more likely to enjoy interacting with people whose opinions are different from their own.
- 15% less likely to own a tablet computer.
Even among their under-30 peers, video game spectators overall seem to have more free time – fewer of them are parents and hold jobs, however they are optimistic about their financial future.
For brands seeking to reach young males who have a passion for digital entertainment and tech, the world of video game spectatorship and eSports seems to offer an opportune channel to reach them.